Verbal abusers, manipulators, those with strong narcissistic tendencies, and otherwise toxic people use language to hurt and exploit others. Sometimes it is because they feel insecure and want to attack others to feel better about themselves. Other times they just want something from you and say false and hurtful things to get it. Or sometimes they want to justify their abusive behavior or flip responsibility. Here are some healthy ways to respond to his toxic and manipulative words .

It is worth noting that “responding” does not necessarily mean that you actually tell the person, as the best strategy for dealing with verbal abusers, as with any other abuser, is often to ignore them or not complete the contact.

However, the people who are most affected are often the ones with severe guilt and doubts, so they tend to doubt and give weight to words that should not even be seriously considered. For such a person, the battle happens internally, or they cannot stop thinking about it, or they sink into a deep depression or experience uncontrollable outbursts of anger.

Healthy ways to react to manipulative and toxic words

So let’s take a look at some more common things toxic people say and how you can view the situation and examine the words without feeling too overwhelmed, confused, or manipulated by them.

“It’s for your own good”

Other examples of toxic words with this meaning : you will thank me / I did it for you / you are ungrateful / you know I love you


Here, the person has hurt you and is now justifying it, saying that you should be grateful, not upset, because that will lead to something positive. It is exceptionally common in a parent-child relationship where the child is neglected or physically abused or forced to do something or hurt in some other way and then told not to bother because “it is for his own good.”

Now, whether or not there can be positive results, the ends do not justify the means. Abuse is abuse. To hurt is to hurt. It’s unfair to hurt someone and then pat them on the back saying it’s okay because you might one day experience something positive as a result of it.

Because of teachings like this, people grow up justifying and normalizing their traumatic childhood by saying that they are grateful for all the painful things because it strengthened them. How many of us have heard people say, “My parents beat me and I came out okay,” without realizing that the fact that they are saying something like this indicates that something here is not right at all.

And sadly, then such a person traumatizes their own children in a similar way. This is called intergenerational abuse or cycle of violence.

Healthy way to respond

One of the healthy ways to react to someone who says “it’s for your own good” after hurting you is by not having to accept it. You can say (to them or to yourself): “No! I do not like it. I didn’t ask for this. I don’t deserve it. This is not loving or affectionate behavior, and I don’t accept it. “

“It’s your fault”

Similar examples of these toxic words : You made me do it / Things just happened / You provoked me / You deserve it


Here, the person clearly did something wrong, but is trying to justify it by saying that it was your fault that he acted that way. His hurtful action was simply a response to your behavior and he has no responsibility; all the responsibility is on you.

For example, you put a glass on the table and the other person yelled at you for it.

Now, by their own logic, if they are not responsible for yelling at you, then you are not responsible for putting the glass on the table, and no one is responsible for anything. But that is not how it works. They want you to accept responsibility for putting the glass on the table and also to take responsibility for their reaction.

The truth is that an adult is responsible for their actions, and yelling at someone is not a mature reaction to such a situation. A more mature and healthy reaction would be to express a request not to leave things on the table after you have finished eating.

Healthy way to respond

“You are an adult who is responsible for your actions. If you don’t like something I’m doing, you can bring it up and we can talk about it. It is not fair or healthy to react in this way in this situation. I do not accept yelling or intimidation in my relationships, and it doesn’t matter if you are my boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, father or member of my family ”.

“Don’t play the victim”

Similar toxic words: you are too sensitive / you are hurting me / you are exaggerating / why are you punishing me?


Here, the person who hurt you is trying to turn it around and make it look like you were the one who hurt them. It’s called a narcissistic projection. It often involves gaslighting , too.

The mechanism here is to try to convince him that he should feel guilty or ashamed for feeling angry or upset about his hurtful actions.

This happens when a person learns more about healthier boundaries and tries to assert themselves or defend themselves. The other person is used to getting more out of you and walking away with more unhealthy behavior, so in his mind now he refuses to submit, to sacrifice and give in to you.

This reaction is quite common among narcissistic people because they feel empowered and special. As a reaction to that, they will project themselves and say that they are the victims here, that you are being unfair and ungrateful, that you are exaggerating, that you are cold, mean, unfair, selfish or heartless, all while they themselves have been acting cold, cruel, unfair, selfish and heartless.

Sometimes these epithets are pure insult attempts and use manipulative toxic words : you are crazy / you are so manipulative / you are an abuser. Or threats: I will destroy you / I will give you something to cry about / I am in charge here / I will turn people against you / You will feel my revenge.

Healthy response for a narcissist who projects victimization

“The way you’re describing me doesn’t fit very well, but it actually describes you quite accurately. I refuse to accept that description because it is not true. I don’t feel guilty or ashamed because I didn’t do anything wrong. I do not owe you anything. You are not entitled to my time, money, work or attention. I recognize your behavior as toxic and abusive and I refuse to tolerate it. “

Summary and final words

When people treat us unfairly, it is sometimes difficult to assess the situation accurately. And even if we do, sometimes we still feel unpleasant emotions, although objectively we shouldn’t.

In situations where we clearly did nothing wrong and were mistreated, it is important to remember that there is never an excuse for abusive and toxic behavior. Viewing the situation objectively is important. We do not have to tolerate or accept destructive or immature behaviors. Maybe as children we could not do that, but as adults we can impose ourselves, set healthier limits or leave the situation unhealthy because we love and respect ourselves, even if the other person does not.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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