I studied psychology in college and had a great professor who tried to introduce us to as many real-world situations as possible. He made it a point to invite guest speakers on a regular basis that would share their experiences with a mental health disorder they had or trauma they had experienced.
A lady named Sheryl came in and spoke to us at great length about her experience with verbal and emotional abuse, and how it affected her. She said that her husband never actually harmed her physically, but said the psychological abuse she suffered was almost unbearable and added that it took her a long time to recover.
She told us that when she and her husband first met, he was charming and respectful towards her, and she thought that she was getting the perfect man. A few months into their relationship, however, she soon realized that the comments she had once taken as being sarcastic were actually belittling and degrading to her.
She said she felt like she was a victim of verbal and emotional abuse but was not completely sure, and when she told him about it, he laughed at her and told her she was being too sensitive. She said she initially just tried to let it go, but as time went by, she felt worse and worse.
This went on for years, and she gradually started to experience the symptoms of depression. She would even feel anxiety attacks when she knew that he was coming home from work. She said the verbal and emotional abuse took such a severe toll on her that she felt as if she had absolutely no self-esteem left whatsoever.
She said she finally got the courage to leave him when her brother came to visit them for a week, got to see first hand the verbal and emotional abuse to which she was being subjected, and basically insisted that she leave her husband and never return. She said her brother and now ex-husband almost came to blows over the treatment of his sister.
The years of verbal abuse took their toll on Sheryl, and she said it took a long time and lots of therapy before she got any of her self-worth back. She told us that on numerous occasions her ex-husband called trying to get her back, but after she would refuse, he would start putting her down again and telling her that she would never find anyone else.
Then, she proudly held up her left hand and revealed a wedding band on her ring finger to a loud ovation from the class. She told us that she had found a wonderful man with whom she was very happy, and finished by saying that verbal and emotional abuse is very real and quite painful. While the bumps and bruises of physical abuse show on a person, she told us, the emotional scars of verbal abuse are not always as noticeable.