Regardless of what form it takes, verbal/emotional abuse is the process of beating a person down and making a child feel bad about themselves. As stated earlier, it's all the emotional pain of a physical attack but without the bruise. In fact, this is one of verbal abuse's most insidious qualities. Even adults who have been verbally and emotionally abused all their lives have difficulty recognizing it for what it is. (Evans, 1993) Rather, they just know the feelings of being bad, worthless, depressed, and the like, while constantly embarking on a search for "what they are doing wrong."
This is even more true when it comes to children. Kids aren't able to recognize and distinguish between what is verbally abusive and what isn't. They're in even less of a position to realize that the barbs they receive aren't actually about them, but about a parent's frustration or insecurities. They are the walking wounded, living their life confused and feeling bad about themselves on a regular basis. These individual moments are bad enough by themselves, but when they are strung together and continue over time, as they often do, verbal abuse becomes the most frustrating and psychologically destructive form of abuse.
Verbally abusive people have a way of cunningly turning the tables on their victim and making their attacks all about their target. The child isn't being verbally battered, the parents imagine, they are being "put in their place." A parent isn't being unduly harsh; they're merely "stating the obvious." They're not attacking a child's self-esteem, the child is simply too sensitive. The parent isn't acting abusively or irrationally, the child is a flawed vessel who draws the parent's ire, and therefore, is deserving of such treatment. It's the child's own fault. "I wouldn't be this way if you weren't so..." is the general message. Only someone who’s endured such an environment can fully appreciate the psychology of it. It's the same psychology that has women who are beaten by their husbands believing they deserved the abuse or brought it upon themselves. It warps a person's social perspectives and redefines the individual according to what the abusive person says they are. If verbal abuse can cause such devastation to an adult's reality and core assumptions about the world, imagine how much more so they affect the inexperienced child, who has little choice but to assimilate these beliefs into their core perceptions.
No visible scars