Not all verbal abuse is as loud as the rest. Sometimes people suffer silently through the words that are not spoken in painful ways.
This, for instance, might be your mom asking if you want food, and when you say no fixing something anyway and acting hurt when you didn’t eat it. Things we often overlook and don’t consider to be abuse can still have lasting effects on us into adulthood.
To be completely honest sometimes the children who suffer through quiet abuse are the ones who become more emotionally confused than the ones who are yelled at constantly. When we are treated as if we do not exist, we begin to believe that we do not matter. This is something that is actually much harder to overcome than most people would think and is painful.
No one deserves to feel invisible! Below I will go over the most common forms of “quiet” verbal abuse and how they affect those being abused.
1. Being ignored.
In a study carried out by researcher Edward Tronick called “Still-Face” they determined just how being ignored affects toddlers and infants. Before this study was done most people did not quite believe that infants five months or younger actually interacted with their mothers. This study proved that to be wrong.
Tronick videotaped mothers interacting with their infants who vocalized and waved their arms in response to their mothers smiling faces and speaking voice. He then had the mothers stop and look at their children with a cold expressionless face. Initially, the children were still cooing and such, but once they noticed her expression was not changing they looked away and began crying.
This was then done with toddlers who when their mother looked emotionless began trying to re-engage their mothers when this failed they turned their backs and began avoiding them. This shows us that the effects of being ignored can be complex and make them anxious. Could you imagine them continuing a study like this on from infancy to adulthood? The effects would be sickeningly sad.
2. Normalizing the abuse
Making them believe that the abuse they are going through is normal is also abuse. You see, most children associate their abuse to their flaws. Even when they become adults those who were quietly abused in their early years may rationalize their parent’s behaviors to others. It is hard to accept that you have been wounded by those who were supposed to take care of you.
3. The absence of praise
The things you choose not to say also have an effect on your children. If your child grows up never having been praised it can leave a void inside of them. These children will grow up wondering why they never got a ‘good job, I love you’ and it will make them feel as if they are not good enough for anyone.
Nitpicking is a huge issue in a lot of homes these days; self-serving statements are only excuses for cruel adult behavior. Even when delivered in a quiet tone these overdone criticisms make a child feel unworthy.
Shaming your children whether it be eye rolls or even laughing is not okay. You are making them feel like nothing but the butt of your jokes and it hurts. This often happens with controlling parents who feel the need to be the center of attention, they use this as a means of controlling the household. Have you ever been laughed at? It doesn’t feel too good now, does it?
Being stonewalled is very similar to being ignored. This can cause intense anger and frustration. When someone refuses to answer you it makes you feel terrible. If you have ever been in this situation then you know how shitty it feels.
Yes, parents gaslight their children all the time. This is a manipulation tool that makes the child, in this case, doubt their perceptions. This does not require yelling, it simply takes one small statement that something may have happened that didn’t or vice versa. This makes the child worry and feel awful.
Verbal abuse is super under reported and is not talked about enough. End the abuse, don’t let your children silently suffer, sometimes we don’t even realize we are doing these things because of how familiar they are to us from our experience with our parents. Pay attention to the quiet things too, just because it might not seem that big of a deal, it can be.