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What’s the Difference Between Abuse and Normal Behavior?

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What is verbal abuse?  The idea itself seems pretty straight-forward. Yet everyone has said things in anger they regret. Everyone has also had their feelings hurt by the words of others. 

But are those words abusive? How can we tell the difference?  

I would argue that there is an intention behind abuse that differentiates it from other non-abusive words or behavior that may otherwise offend or hurt. 

With this in mind, verbal abuse can be described as the use of any form of communication to intentionally inflict psychological or emotional harm on someone, to manipulate his or her behavior, or influence that person’s emotions in a negative way.

False Equivalencies: Verbal Abuse vs. Normal Behavior

Here are a few scenarios where two types of behavior in a relationship may look equivalent but are not. The first behavior described is verbally abusive and the second is not.


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Kristen Milstead

Kristen Milstead is a narcissistic abuse survivor who has become a strong advocate for finding your unique voice and using it to help others find theirs.

One Comment

  1. Kristen, you will never know the positive healthy impact your blog has made in my life. My narcissist left in May 2017 after 4 years. I identify with everything you are doing to help those of us who have experienced what you have also. Just sending out a huge THANK YOU for all your help. Please don’t stop. YOU have made a much needed difference in my life. ❤

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