As I work through my healing journey, I've noticed some specific triggering elements that leave me feeling uncomfortable. Even as a young child growing up, I remember the emotions of mistrust and suspicion when trying to determine if someone's words and actions were genuine. My trust issues from child abuse made it almost impossible to tell the difference between a lie and a joke.
Signs and Symptoms of Abuse
Being the victim of verbal abuse can create vulnerabilities in several areas of life. I know that I still experience negative feelings of vulnerability even though I am no longer in an abusive situation. Thankfully, I am learning how to properly be vulnerable without making myself a target for further abuse.
Being the victim of verbal abuse can bring with it many dynamics. My overwhelming sense of responsibility is one contributing side effect of suffering verbal abuse through the years. This emotion includes feeling accountable for the abuse I endured, thinking that I have to be responsible to make everything better, and I am unable to trust that other people will do the right thing, so I must handle everything myself. Unfortunately, the continuous feeling of responsibility eventually leads to survivor burnout and an overwhelming sense of inadequacy.
The ongoing side effects of verbal abuse can be complex and last for years. One exceptionally painful emotion that still resonates with me, even decades after, is guilt. It can be hard to move past it, and it may also invite its close friend, shame, to the party.
When you are the victim of verbal abuse, making decisions and navigating everyday activities can be overwhelming. I have noticed that when my anxiety levels climb due to external stressors, my brain and body want to shut down. Then, I want to return to my old coping skills from when I suffered abuse by giving up, abstaining from fighting against any opposition, and retreating internally.
As a victim of verbal abuse for many years, I am no stranger to feeling like running away. This stress response will typically appear after I've hit the point of burnout and feeling that the only way to escape unfavorable circumstances is to leave physically. As a teenager, multiple times, I left my home and sought refuge with a friend, only to return again and face the consequences of my actions. Unfortunately, this pattern followed me into my adult life.
Verbal abuse can create numerous harmful outcomes during the abuse and for years afterward. Unfortunately, self-isolation is just one verbal abuse side effect. Many victims will keep themselves away from others while in an abusive situation, and some, like me, continue this behavior even after breaking free.
Facing a verbally abusive situation is emotionally and physically draining. In addition, many victims of abuse find that alcohol plays a factor in how their circumstances play out daily. As someone who lived in a relationship of verbal abuse, alcohol, and substance abuse, I found the combination of these outside elements intensified an already negative situation.
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day around the world. With the more prevalent talk of suicide, mental health, and available resources, old thoughts can be triggered, as they have for me. I believe there needs to be more education, awareness, and increased help for anyone who struggles with suicidal thoughts or ideas of inflicting harm on themselves. I wonder if maybe more accessible options may have been the help I needed when I was younger and struggling. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)
The topic of suicide is one that many people shy away from but shouldn't. The overwhelming feelings of despair and hopelessness should receive the attention they need to garner help and guidance rather than shame or humiliation. September is National Suicide Awareness Month, with World Suicide Prevention Day falling on September 10. The more information we can put out there may help people like me who face suicidal ideation. (Note: This post contains a trigger warning.)