Verbal self-defense


October 17, 2021

Verbal self-defense is the art of using words to prevent, de-escalate, or end aggression, or to defend against abuse. Verbal self-defense is also used to maintain mental and emotional security. This type of conflict management also involves the use of posture and body language, tone of voice and word choice as a means of defusing a potentially volatile situation before it can erupt into physical confrontation.


Specialists in verbal self-defense give different definitions of this technique and how it is applied. Sometimes complex scripts are used to thwart attempts at manipulation and end the conversation. Verbal self-defense is often necessary to establish the boundaries of personal space. The abusive types of communication that verbal self-defense is designed to counter also vary greatly.

Main components

Most experts identify the following key elements of verbal self-defense: The ability to anticipate people, situations and behaviors that cause unpleasant feelings. Self-control in a conflict situation. The minimum set of standard expressions applicable in a conflict situation.


Authors and instructors offering workshops and training on verbal self-defense disagree on whether to convince an opponent of something, and whether the consequences for the opponent should be taken into account. Persuasion or Protection? There is controversy in the theory of verbal self-defense as to whether defense techniques involve the art of persuading the opponent. Some authors [which?] Believe that verbal self-defense is an art of persuasion, but contemporary authors [which?] Disagree. The modern definition of verbal self-defense states that verbal defense tactics should follow the concept of physical self-defense. This thought, taken from the ideologies of martial arts, is based on the fact that verbal self-defense should only serve to preserve the mental and emotional well-being of the defender. In addition, the correct technique of verbal self-defense should give the attacker a chance.

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