According to the University of Cincinnati, there is no universally accepted definition of emotional or verbal attack.
Verbal abuse is a pattern of behavior that can seriously interfere with one’s positive emotional development and over time, can lead to significant detriment to one’s self-esteem, emotional well-being and physical state. It has been further described as an ongoing emotional environment organized by the abuser for the purposes of control.
The underlying factor in the dynamic of abuse can be viewed as the abuser’s low regard for him or her self. As the abuser may fear not being “good enough” and/or meeting other’s expectations, the abuser may attempt to place their victim in the position to feel or believe similar things about him or her self.
Verbal and emotional abuse can occur to one of any race, culture or sex, though the vast majority of reported cases are women.
Verbal abuse typically increases in intensity over time and often escalates to physical abuse as well.
In some countries, charges can be laid for verbal abuse under certain circumstances. Verbal abuse leaves no outer mark and no proof. With couples usually during intense verbal abuse, the target of the abuse usually suffers by having lower self-worth and low self-esteem. Because of this, victims may fall into clinical depression and posttraumatic stress disorder. Verbal abuse, although not physically harmful and having no visible signs, is damaging nonetheless. Verbal abuse is arguably the most common type of abuse, and yet at the same time not looked at or taken nearly as seriously as the many other forms of abuse. In reality however, moderate to severe cases of verbal abuse in which the victim is under constant attack, especially a child, may be even more detrimental to a person or child's health than physical abuse or other forms of abuse. Verbal abuse starting from a young age may contribute to inferiority complex, machismo attitudes, and many other negative behaviors that plague so many people into adulthood. People that feel they are being attacked by a verbal abuser on a regular basis should seek professional counsel and remove themselves from the negative environment if at all possible. Staying around verbal abusers is extremely bad for a person's overall wellbeing and all steps to change the situation should be pursued.