“He said I needed him, that I would never be successful. I believed him for so many years, it took a long time to rebuild who I am and become the woman I am today.” – Samantha, Verbal Abuse Survivor
Samantha, along with many other brave survivors, shared her story of verbal abuse with us during 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence 2021. This 16 Days, we teamed up with beauty company Avon for a campaign to help everyone recognize verbal abuse and its role in coercive control, domestic abuse, and intimate partner violence.
When most people think of domestic abuse, they think of physical violence—the punching, slapping, shoving that we see in movies and television. Those behaviors, to be sure, do constitute domestic violence, but they don’t paint a full picture of abuse. The most common form of domestic violence isn’t physical. Research from Avon and NO MORE shows that one in five women are subjected to constant verbal abuse by a partner.
What do we mean by verbal abuse? The term “verbal abuse” refers to the ways in which a person uses their words to cause harm. It is one tactic in a range of deliberate behaviors that a person may use to gain and maintain power and control over another in an intimate relationship.
Verbal abuse is one aspect of psychological abuse. It’s characterized by repeated insults, name-calling, put-downs, criticizing, and other demeaning language designed to bully, intimidate, frighten, humiliate, degrade, and diminish the victim’s self-worth and sense of safety.
The #NOMOREVerbalAbuse campaign aims to increase understanding and awareness of verbal abuse. What does it look and sound like? Who can survivors reach out to for help?
Together, with Avon, we added critical resources and information to NOMOREVerbalAbuse.org, a website originally developed in partnership with the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence in 2019. Now, visitors can find toolkits containing resources that will help them recognize the signs of verbal abuse, talk to their children about verbal abuse and healthy relationships, and help a loved one who is experiencing violence. They can also speak out against verbal abuse with the #NOMOREVerbalAbuse pledge, by either signing online or simply saying “Alexa, open NO MORE” to any Amazon Alexa-enabled device.
Beyond 16 Days, we are proud to continue working with Avon to prevent verbal abuse and spread the critical message: Verbal abuse IS domestic abuse. NO MORE’s Global Director Pamela Zaballa says, “Verbal abuse is a serious, prevalent issue that takes a huge and often long-lasting toll on the self-esteem and confidence of those who experience it. It also can be a precursor and escalate to physical violence. Therefore, it is critical to increase awareness and ensure that verbal abuse is not overlooked, trivialized nor tolerated.”