When Does Yelling Become Verbal Abuse?

When Does Yelling Become Verbal Abuse? when does yelling become verbal abuse?
Photo by Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash

In our daily interactions, we all experience moments of raised voices or yelling, often seen as a part of expressing strong emotions like anger. Yelling is not, of course, the best way to communicate, but in the heat of the moment, you may find yourself raising your voice just to emphasize or strongly express something. At times, you may yell and end up being hurtful to the other party, or vice versa when you’re the recipient.

So, there’s a line where this intense communication can cross into something more harmful — verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is a form of emotional abuse characterized by the use of harsh, demeaning, or harmful language to control, manipulate, or harm another person. It may involve consistent patterns of communication that aim to belittle, humiliate, or instill fear in the recipient. So, how do you know the difference or when does your yelling cross the line and become verbally abusive?

1. Intention to harm

Verbal abuse involves using yelling as a deliberate tactic to belittle, demean, control, or intimidate another person. This form of communication is not accidental but rather a deliberate choice aimed at inflicting emotional distress or asserting power over the recipient. It involves calculated use of yelling to undermine self-esteem, instill fear, and assert dominance in the relationship, going beyond mere expressions of frustration in disagreements.

Example: Yelling insults, derogatory remarks, or personal attacks with the aim of hurting the other person’s self-esteem.

2. Frequency and intensity

While occasional raised voices may occur in heated discussions, frequent and intense yelling that becomes a pattern is verbally abusive. When every conversation involves yelling, even for small requests like ‘pass me the salt,’ then that’s probably a sign of verbal abuse. You may reach a point where you’re hesitant to communicate or make requests from them due to the fear of their yelling, knowing that any interaction might escalate into a situation where they end up yelling at you.


Example: Yelling excessively and uncontrollably during every disagreement, even over minor issues.

3. Disregard for Boundaries

Verbal abuse often involves disregarding your boundaries by persistently yelling despite requests to stop or continuing to yell after the other person has disengaged from the conversation. When you repeatedly ask them to stop yelling or lower their voice during arguments, and they show no inclination to do so, it indicates a lack of respect for your boundaries, making their yelling a form of verbal abuse.

Example: Yelling at someone who has expressed a desire for calm discussion or walking away from an argument but being followed and shouted at.

4. Lack of Accountability

Verbal abuse is frequently accompanied by a notable absence of accountability. This manifests when the person engaging in yelling avoids acknowledging or admitting to their harmful behavior. When confronted about their verbal aggression, the abuser may resort to justifying or outright denying their actions.

For instance, instead of acknowledging or apologizing for the hurtful impact of their yelling, they may dismiss the concerns by shifting blame and saying something like, “I only yell because you make me angry. It’s your fault.”

Impact of Yelling

When you’re consistently yelled at, you may find yourself internalizing those yells, and it can have a profound impact on your well-being. This internalization often leads to heightened stress levels, increased anxiety, a decrease in self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and strained relationships.

The continuous exposure to yelling not only impacts your mental health but also leaves emotional scars that may persist even long after you’ve left the relationship. It’s similar to an inner voice or critic that hinders you from truly listening to your authentic self. The lasting effects of verbal abuse can create negative beliefs deep within you, affecting your confidence and ability to trust your own instincts.


In conclusion, healthy communication revolves around mutual respect, understanding, and active listening. When disagreements arise, the emphasis should be on seeking constructive feedback rather than resorting to aggression. It’s crucial to be aware of your boundaries to prevent becoming the recipient of verbal abuse and mistakenly accepting it as a valid communication style.

Without awareness of our boundaries, there’s a risk of tolerating abusive behavior due to a lack of understanding of its harm or an inability to grasp its lasting impact on your perception and how you view yourself. While yelling may initially seem harmless, prolonged exposure can lead to a belief in its harmful messages, ultimately affecting both mental and physical health.

Note from the Author

If you’re ready and you’d like my help with healing, finding peace in life and breaking free from these toxic patterns, then you can book a FREE BREAKTHROUGH CALL with me HERE. Happy healing 💙💙. Feel free to share and comment! Use this information with caution, it comes from my own thoughts & bias, experiences and research😊.

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Edwin Bii
Edwin Bii

I'm Edwin Bii, a trained advanced conversational hypnotherapist (ACH) and Mind Shifting Coach from Kenya offering mental health support, and life coaching to help you crush your goalsand overcome your problems. Together, we'll navigate challenges, build self-awareness, and create a happier, healthier you. Let's unlock your potential.

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