Verbal abuse

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Reading another post (can't remember which one right now) and dealing with it so much from my difficult child I've been curious lately of what the long term effects of having to listen to so much verbal abuse from a child might be. I know we try detaching and it helps but still when it's day in and day out I wonder what, if any, the long term effects could be. Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts on this.


Well-Known Member
It really depends on how personally you take it. If you tell yourself, "My child is sick and doesn't mean it" in my opinion that helps. If you take it to heart, and don't take into consideration that he has so many problems and is probably taking his own misery out of you, then I can see the verbal stuff causing A LOT of problems along the way and also getting in the way of how you feel about the child.

He may stabilize and not do that anymore. As I tell everyone, because my son was also adopted, and was not diagnosed correctly until he was 11, if a particular professional/medications/diagnosis isn't working out for the better, I highly recommend a second opinion. I suggest a Psychiatrist or neuropsychologist for the diagnosis. Perhaps the medications are too stimulating, causing mania and more raging and unpleasant behavior--drugs act differently on everybody. I would not personally put a bipolar child on antidepressants or stimulants. I'd want the mood stabilizer and Topomax is not a first line mood stabilizer.

My son had crack in his system at birth. He is pleasant natured, but has Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified. Having no history on our kids makes it harder for doctors to diagnose. Adopted kids, more than any others, in my opinion, need top rate professionals--the Psychiatrist with the MD and the neuropsychologist who does testing and knows about brain function. The verbal abuse should be reduced once the BiPolar (BP) is treated. Of course, there may be other stuff you don't know about--alcohol effects and stuff. I was lucky that, although son's birthmother used (and I'm sure she didn't say "no" to alcohol) he just has no symptoms of alcohol affects, but the Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)-not otherwise specified will be with him all his life. (((Hugs))) and try to remember "he's not stable. It's not personal."

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I do tell myself not to take it personally (doesn't mean it always works)-I was just generally wondering not necessarily just me-but anyone who listens to it often enought if it could have any effect. I doubt there has been much research on something like this-from a parent to child probably research or from a spouse but curious when it's child to parent. I think you're right in that if we look at it as part of the illness it helps too.

(by the way-it's easy child who is on the depressant and the Adderall-you're right -difficult child can't take any stimulant or depressant-it makes him way too manic.)


Former desparate mom
<span style='font-size: 11pt'>Wiped out, I think the constant verbal abuse is devastating long term. It's like erosion by a drip,drip,drip of water. Eventually, you can't hide the hole anymore.
It's bad enough to deal with oppositional personality and all the tension but when they personally attack you and call you horrid names over and over in the course of a lifetime, there is irreparable damage done to the parent/child connection. As an adult you intellectually understand but there isn't any doubt in my mind that you have to put up a wall to protect your emotional well being. </span>

timer lady

Queen of Hearts

For me, I just cringe. It's eroded my spirit; I've not wanted to be in the same room as my children for a very long time.

Even though kt is home & doing well (in kt terms), I am having PTSD moments. At one point today during a tantrum (not a meltdown), I literally fell apart. husband needed to step in & he did.

After kt settled, I sat down crying...I told husband that I wasn't sure with all that's happened I could handle the day to day antics. I feel weak, depleted.

I'm sorry - went off on a tangent.

Protect your heart, your soul. Don't lose yourself in the constant verbal abuse that tends to be our little wonders.


Trying to save the day.
"Protect your heart, your soul."

How do we do that when that is exactly where they hit us? My difficult child isn't even 4 yet and sometimes I feel so beat down by the verbal abuse already. The more I read on here, the more terrified I am of the future. Right now the only thing that gets me through his verbal tirades is knowing that when it is over he always feels bad and appologizes and tells me how much he really loves me. The fact that he feels true remorse gives me some hope. It may be the next day and out of the blue he will appologize for his actions and for "talking ugly" to me the day before. I keep hoping that since he feels remorse for his actions it means he will outgrow the behavior, even though it has been present since birth.


Well-Known Member
I know when my little guy first came to us (he was two) and tantrummed and hit and spat at us, I really could detach and think, "I've got to get the kid help." I don't recall ever taking it personally, but maybe that's because we adopted him and knew his behavior was so difficult that nobody else would even take a chance on him. As he got interventions, he greatly improved until his behavior isn't even an issue now, so that helped a lot. If you can focus off the behavior and try to find something that works--and it can take years--then the stabilized child likely won't be so verbally abusive or hit you. You may want to learn about detachment. I know there are links, but don't know where they are. When my son would say, "Hate you!" (he has delayed speech) I would try to calmly say, "Well, I love you." (I didn't always feel like saying it). It worked for my son. I don't know if it will help yours, but, hey, you can may want to get into therapy to learn how to best deal with the situation. Take care.


Former desparate mom
<span style='font-size: 11pt'>mighty mouse, it is true that looking into the future based on today's behaviors is pretty terrifying. However how he is at 4 isn't necessarily how he will be at 7,10,15. You have to believe that you will help him gain control over his behavior and how he handles his rage. Break down your goals to something less overwhelming. Into the future is too unknown and frightening. If he can rage one time less this week than last, consider that a victory. Some weeks you win and some weeks you don't make any progress. There is no doubt that it wears you down.
Maybe others aren't affected emotionally from all the rage and chaos that a difficult child shares with the family but day after day wore me down and still does. It's a lot of energy to put out just to keep a positive attitude and be productive in the midst of storms. I was affected and it did alter my willingness to leave myself vulnerable but I still loved my son and I still wanted to be the best parent I could for my little guy. </span>

timer lady

Queen of Hearts
The "art" of detachment is a hard learned life skill for parents of difficult children. (I apologize for my whine earlier in this thread - I was physically exhausted yesterday.)

MWM, I will correct, redirect or firmly tell kt there is no argument here & then tell her I love her. Or I ask her to "redo" that with an immediate I love you. It does help. Many times I comment "thank you for sharing".

I've had to learn to put up this wall - to compartmentalize, if you will, what is screamed at me in the midst of a rage. However, I still look for an apology. kt has an apology plan - it's written on paper.

She has to state what she does wrong, why it was wrong & how she will do it differently next time. Sometimes it works, others not so much.

Sharon, verbal abuse, like any other abuse, becomes degrading to the spirit. I believe that it is much harder to take from our children (illness or not). I try to find the humor in the situation (being called son of a bit#h, brings an immediate, wrong gender comment - more or less stops kt & wm in their tracks).

Take care of yourself, lady. You are a delightful lady - don't let this drag you down.


Well-Known Member
Linda, when my kid did that, he was REALLY young, like four, and he didn't speak much--wasn't sure how much he understood (now I think it was A LOT). Sounds like you have a good system. I think if son would have gone on for years that way, it would have affected me, him, and our relationship. We just got lucky with the right interventions, but we REALIZE it was pure luck. It can take years to get it right--and some kids, especially adopted, always have issues. We really don't know how much that inUtero drugging affects them...take care.


Active Member
My difficult child has been doing comparatively pretty well for a while now, and I do remember he used to call me a freak, but I've forgotten the other names he called me so I'd have to say I don't feel it affected me too much. I do think, had my difficult child not improved and he was still spewing that kind of thing, it would be. I believe the relationship between us would never be "right". I still remember the feeling the first time he said he hated me, and when he gets angry I still get the stomach dropping "oh no" feeling and wait to see how far he'll go. Don't know if you every forget those feelings and dread having them come back.


New Member
i will put my 2 cents worth in too... James told me i wasn't worth anything this weekend, this basically p's me off anymore concidering what i put up with from him... more then anything i worry more about my 10 yr old daughter and his verbal abuse to her and i ask her not to engage him but she is stubborn and does not like to back down... i try not to take what he says to me to heart because i think he doesn't really feel that way and honestly he doesn't think or premeditate what he flys out of his mouth...i knows he loves me and i am the only one who is safe enough to vent to and i wont knock his teeth out (even though i would like to some times)he is frustrated too for being this way and does not like who he is..sad

i try to remember, be it hard, if he was down syndrome or some other birth defect what would i expect from him and would i give him grace...

take care of your self, protect your spirit, pray hard if you have faith and take it moment by moment....

Wiped Out

Well-Known Member
Staff member
I do think it has some effect when it is day in and day out. I think keeping a sense of humor and taking care of oneself is important as well. For me exercising helps. It's a great stress release and has other positives as well.

Putting up a wall is something I have to do to protect myself. Overall I think I handle it well but it does wear one down and I wonder years from now what will be the result. I appreciate everyone's replies. Hugs.

I definitely think that there are long term effects from listening to constant verbal abuse from difficult children. I really like what Fran wrote. I agree with her that you have to put up a wall to protect yourself.

I wrote about difficult child 2 not too long ago and how I have to put up with his constant verbal abuse. I thought SLSH made a great point when she said we become emotionally numb and that it can be hard to turn the numbness on and off.

I have gotten to the point where I will do whatever I can to help my difficult children, BUT, I WILL NOT let them destroy my life!!! This means that I think about what I need more than I used to. I sometimes put my needs first! Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to deal with my difficult children on a daily basis...

I also am very scared about the future because I KNOW I can't let them live with me past a certain point!!! I would lose my sanity!!!

Sharon, I agree with you that having a sense of humor helps. I also believe that exercise is a great way to relieve stress. Without exercise, I honestly don't know if I could live in the same house with my difficult children.

As far as the future, I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to feel towards my difficult children once they are grown and out of my house... I just wish it was sooner!!! Great post. WFEN


Well-Known Member
I agree, it does wear us down, but also agree that you can't judge how your child will be at 8 when s/he's only 4 now.
There is an emotional/intellectual schism with-me and I'm not sure if it's ever going to heal... but then some days everything seems so normal and that's when I'm caught off-guard by the next assault. I think I--and all of us here--have an American Tourister heart. (Remember those commercials? Marg, if they weren't on Aussie TV, they showed a piece of luggage being thrown off a cliff, jumped on, run over, whatever, by a gorilla, and a guy just picked up the luggage and kept on walking. That's us!) :wink:
I used to wonder if I was growing such a thick skin that no one could hurt me anymore. Wrong! I had the flu once, was sick in bed, and heard this horrid banging and barking... turns out one of our dogs got out and was chasing the neighbor on his motorcycle. (Border collies love to chase. Motorcycles are just as handy as sheep when you're in the city.) The neighbor was banging on my door. He was livid. I wasn't wearing my glasses, didn't recognize him, hadn't been out of bed in 2 days, and he swore a blue streak at me... "f--ing dog, we're going to kill it!" Nice guy. I got the dog in the house and then told him not to use the F-word with-me any more.
Then I went back to bed and cried for an hr.

Oh, by the way, difficult child sat and listened to the whole thing. He didn't say a word, just sat there, wide-eyed.
He is like I am... an elephant that never forgets. He always refers to that neighbor as the "Mean F-word neighbor." Score 1 for difficult child!

PTSD is a known "side effect" in parents who have suffered long-term verbal (and/or physical)abuse from their children. Why would we be exempt from the effects of long-term abuse? Though we are adults, and capable warrior moms and dads, we are also feeling, fragile and vulnerable beings. We break.

Linda, you weren't whining when you used the words "weak, depleted." I felt relieved and encouraged that you were being honest about your symptoms. I'm been having some symptoms of PTSD as well, and I'm going to try some EMDR with my therapist.

Take care everyone, we can only put up a wall for so long. The abuse does penetrate, drip drip drip, as Fran said.


New Member
I am a vetran of verbal abuse at the hands of my children. difficult child#1
began the "I hate you" garbage real early on. By the time she was in middle school she called me the B word almost every day until high school then I was a F----B----. That went on until I made her leave at age 21. difficult child#2 unfortunately witnessed this for his entire life. He was frightend by difficult child#1's outbursts and rages but he didn't start using the language on me until she was out of the house and he had reached puberty. His abuse of me wasn't often while he was in middle school.

Because of all the years of verbal abuse at the hands of my daughter I lost it the first time my son used it on me. I sort of had a flash foward of another 10 years of verbal abuse and I reacted. I am not proud of myself but I slapped him when he started screaming F----B----- at me for telling him to come in the house. It must have made an impression on him because he didn't do it again for about a year. When he started up again I always remained calm and just told him not to call me that and then grounded him if he continued. Unfortunately that calmness and grounding tactic never worked and the verbal abuse escalated until it became a daily thing. So in essence I sustained about twenty consectutive years of this verbal abuse at the hands of two of my 4 children. Eventually difficult child#2 turned to physical abuse on both my husband and I. (difficult child #1 had done this also).

Once husband tried to restrain difficult child after he punched husband and then bolted for the door. That ended up with difficult child going to his HS councillor and reporting husband. No charges filed, just a phone call but still very scary. So from that time on husband would just stand there and block difficult child's punches. difficult child began using drugs around this time (unknown to us as he didn't have a job nor an allowance still don't know where hegot the money). difficult child became increasingly more violent as he approached his 18th birthday culminating in the horrible events of last year.

I am definately battling PTSD. I think husband is also but to a lesser degree. I have nothing left as far as tolerance for abuse goes. Can't watch it on TV can't listen to it in any form.
I find that I now swear when angry or upset. That is something I almost never did before.

In addition I find I am emotionally numb towards both of my difficult child's. I love them but I do not trust them and never will. I won't be working on this have no intrest in being hurt again by either of them. I have a very emotionally superficial relationship with them now. I have no desire for it to be anything more.

As difficult as my PTSD symptoms can be at times, I consider myself lucky. Lucky because I can still enter into new friendships and relationships with an open heart. Lucky because I didn't sink back into the pit of dispair that my difficult child#1 and my cancer had lead me. I am determined to get past this PTSD anxiety and over active startle reflex. I am determined to be strong and healthy and not a victim but a vetran. -RM


Oh boy, Sharon, our minds are definitely on the same page.

I'm writing this without having read responses first, but time is limited, so....I apologize for redundancy.

I recently had allergy testing done. 5 years ago, I was allergic to 4-5 things. Now, I am allergic to over 40 things, in addition to foods. The reason for the testing is that I have had chronic sinus infections thru the winter months since difficult child 2 came along, that are requiring way-too-strong antibiotics to overcome.

I am having a root canal today (hopefully) on the second tooth that has abscessed because in the chaos of difficult child-dom, I forget to take care of myself (or have to cancel cause the sitter/school can't handle him, or I can't take any more time out of work).

Personally, as I'm sure many here do, I survive in a constant state of exhaustion. A good night's sleep is rare, and mostly just a memory. I have mild osteo-arthritis in a knee, the more tired I am, the more I feel it. For the past year, I've taken around 800mg of ibuprofen 3-4 times a day. I'm lucky in that it works and it doesn't eat my stomach.

I've spent a lot of time lately trying to figure out what I can do differently so that I don't end up killing myself; but I've also spent a lot of time realizing the cost of difficult child-dom isn't just financial. I have an in-home, respite, a sitter who's worth her weight in gold, access to services - I have a LOT that many, many people don't have, and if its wearing on me like this, what impact does difficult child-dom have on those others? On the financial world? The business world?

And as far as emptional impact? OMG, I don't think we've scratched the surface of that. I think the impact is huge. I think it changes us at the core. For me, personally, there is little in my life that my kids don't touch in some way or another...


Well-Known Member
Can you believe that here we sit talking about ABUSE of ourselves? All that we do to help our children day after day and we get abused for it! It's amazing, just amazing. I know I'm not the only one in this boat, but difficult child has done it for so long that I feel like he thinks it's the "norm" and his morning isn't complete unless he's yelled at me or called me a name. He doesn't like "change", so he doesn't "change". It's a very vicious circle, isn't it?