The Language of Abuse (2022)

If you have ever tried to learn another language, you remember the beginning phase—learning words and phrases. And you recall the intermediate phase—thinking of what you want to say in your native tongue and translating it in your mind into the language you are learning, then speaking it aloud. This is where most people stop, but for those truly devoted to fluency, after a tremendous amount of time practicing (and preferably also a stint of total immersion, where they can speak nothing but the language they are learning), they achieve the miracle of actually being able to think in the new language.

What does this have to do with abuse? Well, before we even begin learning our native tongue, we begin to learn the emotional language of our family. Think of the emotional language as how you relate to yourself and others, especially those you are most intimate with. When the family of origin is safe and healthy and loving, so is the native emotional language the child develops. A person with a loving and healthy emotional language will be more secure in who they are because they know they are loved and accepted by their family. They are more comfortable with vulnerability because they don’t fear being abandoned for being themselves and speaking their truth. They don’t lose themselves in relationships or view relationships as justifying their own existence, but rather view relationships as life-enhancing. They approach disagreements with compassion and curiosity even while still being self-assured in their point of view. To me, emotional language is everything.

I can imagine it is difficult for people who haven’t been abused to understand how one could continue to be affected long after that person is no longer in the abusive environment. This isn’t helped by pop culture—after-all at the end of Cinderella, she and the prince are whisked away in a carriage to live “happily ever after” and never give her stepmother and stepsisters another moment of thought or consideration. What the movie doesn’t show is Cinderella’s subsequent struggle with learning how to be happy and emotionally intimate in her marriage after a lifetime of being treated as an indentured servant, nor does it show Cinderella processing the anger she must feel for their treatment of her, nor does it show how things went the following Thanksgiving or other family-centric holiday, when Cinderella is sure to have felt tremendous grief for what she didn’t have growing up. The societal expectation of abuse survivors is to move on and “just be happy” once you have escaped the abusive environment, as if the effects of the abusive environment only counts in the present moment.

(Video) Josef Pieper: Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power (Narrated)

The truth that society often doesn’t understand is that when you are abused growing up, abuse is your first language. And no matter how much time goes by or therapy you do, abuse will never not be your first language. Expecting an abused person to “just move on and be happy” is like expecting an American to move to France and suddenly no longer be American, no longer think “American” thoughts, no longer speak English and to speak French flawlessly without even an accent. The truth is that it takes a lot of time and practice to learn a new language, whether spoken or emotional.

How does one learn a new healthy emotional language? Consider an analogous process to your high school <insert language> class:

Spoken LanguageEmotional Language

Milestone: Learning words and phrases

How to Get There: Learning those words and memorizing them

(Video) The Language of Abuse with Wade Mullen

Milestone: learning healing concepts such as the wounded inner child, inner critic, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, boundaries, etc. even though you may still find yourself speaking your native emotional language most of the time.

How to Get There: Therapeutic process with a licensed therapist or certified coach with a trauma specialty and supplementing with books on the healing process, etc. as desired.

Milestone: Thinking of what you want to say in your native tongue and translating it in your mind into the language you are learning, then speaking it aloud

How to Get There: Practice and gentle correction when mistakes are made

(Video) October 2022 General Conference | Saturday Sessions

Milestone: Learning tools for coping and emotional awareness and finding yourself thinking in this new, healthier way more often and for longer periods of time.

How to Get There: Practicing the concepts and communication techniques garnered from the Therapist or Coach with yourself and people in your life. Noticing when you find yourself in your “old” way of thinking, work on silencing the inner critic when their voice arises, etc.

Milestone: Ability to think in the new language

How to Get There: practice, practice, practice and preferably also a stint of total immersion where one can only speak the language they are learning

(Video) Online abuse 'the same as face-to-face': BBC News Review

Milestone: Having the new healthy emotional language be more of the default (that is not to say emotional “perfection” where no issues are ever experienced) and get surprised when sucked back into that old way of thinking when triggered by an abusive or dysfunctional stimulus.

How to Get There: First and foremost a commitment to the practice of emotional wellness. Practice wellness techniques (boundaries, self-love and compassion, etc.) so often that they are more than habits, they are ingrained into your (new) way of thinking. You may also want to take a temporary, semi-permanent or permanent break from your family of origin as well as anyone else in your life that makes you slip into your abuse native language. This is a very personal decision and it is recommended that you discuss your plans and support system with your Coach/ Therapist.

With these techniques, you can become extremely fluent in your new emotional language and become a naturalized citizen of “Emotionally Healthy Land.” But here’s the hitch: remember inI Love Lucywhen as the conversation escalated from bickering to argument, there would come a point when Ricky would seamlessly transition from English to Spanish without even realizing he was yelling in Spanish? (If you don’t, Youtube). Well, people who grew up in abusive environments often react to triggers (particularly interaction with their family of origin) and pull a Ricky Ricardo and begin speaking in the language of abuse and dysfunction. And unlike Ricky, we usually aren’t able to just say “oops, didn’t realize” and go back to speaking healthy emotional language. Personally, when I get sucked into abuse/ dysfunction thinking, it can take me days or weeks to “come down” from that experience and reintegrate into my healthy mindset and emotional language. That’s why I call these “Risky Dicardos” because these situations carry the risk of making one feel as though they have backslid and discarded any progress they have made in their healing journey. This is also why a temporary, semi-permanent or permanent break from your family of origin may be a necessary total-immersion technique to learning your new language of emotional health.

Overall, if you are a survivor of abuse/ dysfunction:

(Video) Domestic abuse & child protection: change the language, change the practice | Social Work Week 2021

  1. Be careful and judicious with your environment to avoid triggers that will suck you back into your abuse native language.
  2. Be gentle with yourself. You are trying to learn a new language after speaking abuse/dysfunction your whole life. You will find yourself speaking it from time to time. Instead of beating yourself up, just remind yourself that your only job is to be devoted to practicing your new language of health, love & compassion as much and often as you can.

I wish you the very best in your healing journey, whichever phase you find yourself today. Practice Makes Progress.

FAQs

What is the language of abuse? ›

Abusive language means the use of remarks intended to be demeaning, humiliating, mocking, insulting, or belittling that may or may not be based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity of an individual.

Which type of abuse is most common? ›

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse.

How does abuse affect a person? ›

Maltreatment can cause victims to feel isolation, fear, and distrust, which can translate into lifelong psychological consequences that can manifest as educational difficulties, low self-esteem, depression, and trouble forming and maintaining relationships.

What do you call someone who commits domestic violence? ›

Perpetrator:a person carrying out domestic violence behaviors; see also “abuser” and “batterer”.

Why do people use abusive language? ›

Swearing these days is understood generally as the strongly emotional use of taboo terms to carry out such acts as abusing, offending, letting off steam, intensifying what is being said or simply signalling displeasure.

What are the examples of offensive language? ›

So, to help you be more professional at work, here are 30 inappropriate words and phrases that should never, ever be said in the workplace.
  • “I think” ...
  • “That's not my job” ...
  • “I can't work with them” ...
  • “I need a drink!” ...
  • “Cray-cray” ...
  • “I don't know” ...
  • “It's not my fault” ...
  • “Ghetto”
9 Mar 2022

What type of abuse is the hardest to detect? ›

Emotional abuse often coexists with other forms of abuse, and it is the most difficult to identify. Many of its potential consequences, such as learning and speech problems and delays in physical development, can also occur in children who are not being emotionally abused.

Which type of abuse is the most unreported? ›

The U.S. Justice Department notes that caregiver neglect is the most unreported type of abuse, with 1 out of every 57 cases being reported. Neglect is also one of the most common types of elder abuse.

What are the 10 abuses? ›

What are the ten different types of abuse?
  • Physical abuse.
  • Domestic violence or abuse.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse.
  • Financial or material abuse.
  • Modern slavery.
  • Discriminatory abuse.
  • Organisational or institutional abuse.

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
23 May 2017

What mental illnesses are caused by abuse? ›

Experiencing abuse or other trauma puts people at risk of developing mental health conditions, such as:
  • Anxiety disorders.
  • Depression.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Misusing alcohol or drugs.
  • Borderline personality disorder.
16 Feb 2021

What mental illness do abusers have? ›

The results of this research show that do- mestic abusers tend to obtain high points for some types of personality disorders, especially narcissistic, antisocial and bor- derline disorders. They also present symptoms of depressive disorders and consumption of drugs and alcohol.

What is it called when a victim protects their abuser? ›

Stockholm syndrome is a coping mechanism to a captive or abusive situation. People develop positive feelings toward their captors or abusers over time. This condition applies to situations including child abuse, coach-athlete abuse, relationship abuse and sex trafficking.

What is double victimization? ›

Double victimization implies that victims incur costs during two distinct periods. First, they sustain a variety of losses directly from the criminal incident. Afterwards, when victims turn to the criminal justice system seeking redress, they encounter even more obstacles and must absorb additional costs.

How would you describe abuse in court? ›

The domestic violence laws say “abuse” is: Physically hurting or trying to hurt someone intentionally or recklessly; Sexual assault; Making someone reasonably afraid that he or she or someone else is about to be seriously hurt (like threats or promises to harm someone); OR.

What is offensive language? ›

Offensive language is the offence of using language in a way which could cause offence to a reasonable person in, near, or within hearing or view of a public place or school.

Is cursing abusive language? ›

Profanity is a socially offensive use of language, which may also be called cursing, cussing, swearing, obscenities or expletives. Accordingly, profanity is language use that is sometimes deemed impolite, rude, indecent, or culturally offensive; in certain religions, it constitutes sin.

How does bad language reflect on you? ›

Profane words have a direct line to our emotions. They are a spontaneous reflection of strong emotional states, like anger, fear or passion. They are also unequaled in their capacity to inflict emotional pain and incite violent disagreement.

Who invented abusive words? ›

The origin is somewhere around 1700s. Abusive words are very common in day to day language here in North. By North I mean Jammu, Punjab, Himachal, Uttrakhand, UP, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh.

What is unprofessional language? ›

Unprofessional language is using language that is not expected nor appropriate in a workplace by an employee creating an uncomfortable and sometimes hostile environment. Unprofessional language comes in many forms from bullying to gossiping and all other language of disrespect towards one another.

Is foul language harassment? ›

Cuss words based on an individual's race, sex, or other protected characteristic are a problem. Cuss words that are directed at an individual aren't good, either. And of course, obscene language that is sexual in nature can most certainly create liability for sexual harassment.

What are the characteristics of an abuser? ›

Red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:
  • Extreme jealousy.
  • Possessiveness.
  • Unpredictability.
  • A bad temper.
  • Cruelty to animals.
  • Verbal abuse.
  • Extremely controlling behavior.
  • Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships.

Why is it so hard to talk about abuse? ›

Here are some reasons why victims and survivors may feel afraid of talking about their experience with abuse: Fear of being judged or not being believed. Being a victim of abuse can leave victims feeling ashamed and less-than a person.

Why do people not realize they are being abused? ›

Many people don't realise they are in emotionally or psychologically abusive relationships. This is because they don't think their partner's behaviour is bad enough. In fact, early signs of abuse can even be misconstrued as "romantic."

Why do people hurt children? ›

Negative attitudes and lack of knowledge – negative attitudes toward child behavior (whether good behavior or bad) and lack of knowledge about child development can contribute to physical abuse of children. These parents or caregivers have unrealistic expectations of their child's development.

Who commits elder abuse the most? ›

In almost 60% of elder abuse and neglect incidents, the perpetrator is a family member. Two thirds of perpetrators are adult children or spouses.

What is the most common living situation of abused elders? ›

Elder abuse most often takes place in the home where the senior lives. It can also happen in institutional settings, especially long-term care facilities. It is estimated that more than 1 in 10 older adults experience some form of abuse.

What are the 4 main areas of abuse? ›

Child abuse is when anyone under the age of 18 is either being harmed or not properly looked after. There are four main categories of child abuse: physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Find out more about each below, as well as the warning signs that a child may be being abused.

What are the 13 types of abuse? ›

  • Bullying and cyberbullying. Find out more.
  • Child sexual exploitation. Find out more.
  • Child trafficking. Find out more.
  • Criminal exploitation and gangs. Find out more.
  • Domestic abuse. Find out more.
  • Emotional abuse. Find out more.
  • Female genital mutilation. Find out more.
  • Grooming. Find out more.

What are the 7 main categories of abuse? ›

Types of abuse include; physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional and mental, financial and spiritual.

What are signs of narcissistic abuse? ›

Symptoms of Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome
  • Always Walking On Egg Shells. As a human, you tend to avoid things that remind you of terrible things in the past. ...
  • Sense of Mistrust. ...
  • Self-Isolation. ...
  • Loss of Self Worth. ...
  • Feeling Lonely. ...
  • Freezing Up. ...
  • Trouble Making Decisions. ...
  • Feeling Like You've Done Something Wrong.
23 Dec 2020

How do emotional abuse victims act? ›

Emotional and psychological abuse can have severe short- and long-term effects. This type of abuse can affect both your physical and your mental health. You may experience feelings of confusion, anxiety, shame, guilt, frequent crying, over-compliance, powerlessness, and more.

What does emotional abuse do to a woman? ›

Staying in an emotionally or verbally abusive relationship can have long-lasting effects on your physical and mental health, including leading to chronic pain, depression, or anxiety. Read more about the effects on your health. You may also: Question your memory of events: “Did that really happen?” (See Gaslighting.)

How do you know if you are traumatized? ›

Intrusive memories

Recurrent, unwanted distressing memories of the traumatic event. Reliving the traumatic event as if it were happening again (flashbacks) Upsetting dreams or nightmares about the traumatic event. Severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds you of the traumatic event.

What types of Behaviours come from trauma? ›

Traumatic reactions can include a variety of responses, such as intense and ongoing emotional upset, depressive symptoms or anxiety, behavioral changes, difficulties with self-regulation, problems relating to others or forming attachments, regression or loss of previously acquired skills, attention and academic ...

What is the most common psychological trauma? ›

Perhaps one of the most common forms of trauma is emotional abuse. This can be a common form of trauma because emotional abuse can take many different forms. Sometimes it's easy for emotional abuse to be hidden or unrecognized.

What causes someone to be an abuser? ›

Some people witness it in their own families growing up; others learn it slowly from friends, popular culture, or structural inequities throughout our society. No matter where they develop such behaviors, those who commit abusive acts make a choice in doing so — they also could choose not to.

How do you tell if someone is lying about being abused? ›

Some common signs include: The person does not answer a question right away, but pauses or delays their answer as they try to think about what to say. The person looks away and will not make eye contact. The person instinctively touches their mouth while speaking.

Can anxiety make someone abusive? ›

Excessive aggression and violence likely develop as a consequence of generally disturbed emotional regulation, such as abnormally high or low levels of anxiety. This suggests an overlap between brain circuitries and neurochemical systems regulating aggression and anxiety.

What is offensive language? ›

Offensive language is the offence of using language in a way which could cause offence to a reasonable person in, near, or within hearing or view of a public place or school.

What is another word for abusive words? ›

abusive
  • insulting.
  • offensive.
  • rude.
  • calumniating.
  • castigating.
  • censorious.
  • contumelious.
  • defamatory.

What words are considered verbal abuse? ›

Signs of Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse involves using words to name call, bully, demean, frighten, intimidate, or control another person. This can include overt verbal abuse such as yelling, screaming, or swearing. Such behaviors are attempts to gain power, and the goal is to control and intimidate you into submission.

Is cursing abusive language? ›

Profanity is a socially offensive use of language, which may also be called cursing, cussing, swearing, obscenities or expletives. Accordingly, profanity is language use that is sometimes deemed impolite, rude, indecent, or culturally offensive; in certain religions, it constitutes sin.

What is offensive behavior? ›

offensive behaviour means aggressive, abusive, harassing, belligerent, threatening behavior, Sample 1. offensive behaviour means any remark or act: Sample 1. offensive behaviour means indecent or insulting behaviour.

Is blood a swear word yes or no? ›

Considered respectable until about 1750, it was heavily tabooed during c. 1750–1920, considered equivalent to heavily obscene or profane speech. Public use continued to be seen as controversial until the 1960s, but since then, the word has become a comparatively mild expletive or intensifier.

What is another word for verbally abusive? ›

•revilement (noun)

railing, invective, billingsgate, abuse.

What do you call a person who abuses others? ›

A person who abuses someone can be called an abuser, and such a person is said to be abusive. Abuse can also be used as a verb meaning to misuse something or as a noun meaning misuse—referring to the overuse or improper use of things.

What's another word for emotional abuse? ›

What is another word for emotional abuse?
abusemanipulation
gaslightingintimidation
psychological abusemental abuse
psychological violencepsychological warfare
head gamesmind games
1 more row

What are the 5 signs of emotional abuse? ›

5 Signs of Emotional Abuse
  • They are Hyper-Critical or Judgmental Towards You. ...
  • They Ignore Boundaries or Invade Your Privacy. ...
  • They are Possessive and/or Controlling. ...
  • They are Manipulative. ...
  • They Often Dismiss You and Your Feelings.
23 May 2017

What mental illness is caused by verbal abuse? ›

Verbal abuse, the researchers found, had as great an effect as physical or nondomestic sexual mistreatment. Verbal aggression alone turns out to be a particularly strong risk factor for depression, anger-hostility, and dissociation disorders.

What is verbal abuse in communication? ›

When someone repeatedly uses words to demean, frighten, or control someone, it's considered verbal abuse. You're likely to hear about verbal abuse in the context of a romantic relationship or a parent-child relationship. But it can also occur in other family relationships, socially, or on the job.

Who invented abusive words? ›

The origin is somewhere around 1700s. Abusive words are very common in day to day language here in North. By North I mean Jammu, Punjab, Himachal, Uttrakhand, UP, Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh.

Is it good to use abusive language? ›

Research by Keane University in New Jersey has revealed that the people who tend to use abusive language usually live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Their frustration is reduced to a great extent by cussing. Also, the mind remains healthy.

How does swearing affect the brain? ›

Swearing is one activity that engages both sides of your brain, the language center in the left brain and the emotional center in your right brain. This may be why people who have trouble speaking, such as stroke victims or stutterers, are often able to speak more easily when they curse.

Videos

1. Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power – Institute of Catholic Culture
(Gabriel Abdala)
2. The Language Of Domestic Abuse in South Asian Communities | Sangeetha Menon | TEDxCaryWomen
(TEDx Talks)
3. FAITH AND MISSION | The Word Exposed with Cardinal Tagle (October 2, 2022) with Sign Language
(JesComTV)
4. Manly P. Hall - Language the Use, Misuse and Abuse of Words
(Promienie Gwiazd)
5. A Domestic Abuse Therapist's Take On Amber Heard's Testimony
(Live Abuse Free)
6. Abuse of Language, Abuse of Power
(The Catholic Man Show)

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