Verbal abuse occurs when “one person uses words and body language to inappropriately criticize another person,” says Patricelli. Verbal abuse is characterized as a mental abuse because the abuser will taunt the abused, making her feel unloved and unworthy of respect. This type of abuse prevents healthy lifestyles and activities because the abused feels she is unable to reach goals or participate in healthy behaviors.
Psychological abuse is a means for altering the abused person’s sense of reality, often in a manipulative way. Patricelli says that psychological abuse can occur in a pedophilic relationship in which the abuser tells the abused child that he caused the abuse himself by tempting the abuser. Psychological abuse also can happen in groups, such as in cults.