What is Verbal Abuse and why No one really Talks about it
Sticks and Stones may break my bones but WORDS will never hurt me. How many of us grew up believing that lie? How many parents have passed those same “words of wisdom” on to their own children? I remember as a young girl sharing with my mom how a boy in my class kept bothering me. He would say things to provoke a response even go as far as getting really close to my face to see if perhaps I would push him or something. He was a sad kid but a bully at the same time so no one really felt sorry for him, they sort of feared him instead. My mother would say “as long as he doesn’t touch you things are fine.” But they weren’t fine and one day I just lost it and pushed him to the ground. The teacher came over and sent me to the principal’s office. When my mom arrived I told her what happened and we left. She said she didn’t send me to school to fight but we never spoke about MY feelings or her take on what I may have been going through.
Looking back at it now I understand she didn’t have the tools to help me at that time. She never had anyone validate her own feelings that was not how she grew up. During her childhood and teen years no one told her it was ok to FEEL hurt and express her emotions. Speaking about your feelings was not a thing. Even today with all the information we have, with studies showing the long term effects of different levels of abuse you come across many people who find it difficult to discuss their emotions.
Here is where Verbal Abuse grows, where years of stuffing things down present themselves in many toxic ways. We all know what physical abuse looks like because we can see it. You can’t hide a black eye or a split lip but the words that came before hand many times no one gets to hear. This is what is so dangerous and damaging because you can live years in that cycle without anyone offering to help.
And Verbal Abuse can really come from anyone, friends, family, coworkers, even total strangers. Sometimes it can be disguised as a “friendly” suggestion. Someone makes a comment about what you do or who you are in gist but the words they use are meant to cut you down. They are said so that slowly your confidence begins to disappear and seeds of self doubt begin to grow. The saying “hurt people hurt people” is very true. Hurt people become bullies, they carry an aggression that they dispense in words every time you begin to shine “too” bright next to them.
Unfortunately I grew up watching levels of that in my household as a young child and teenager. I heard many ugly exchanges between my mother and her husband. I saw my mother go from a beautiful social butterfly to a woman who barely left her home by the time my two sisters were in their own teens. I saw the sadness in my sister’s eyes and how those words chipped away at their light. I saw the potential of living their greatness dissipate into thin air. They never felt good enough, never felt strong or worthy. All those things became a part of them and how they viewed and dealt with life. I left home at the age of eighteen and made different choices to not repeat that cycle but it doesn’t mean I still didn’t make a few mistakes.
I still ended up in a long term relationship that had many issues of disrespect. I invested countless hours making excuses for someone else’s actions. I placed my value in the back burner fighting for a connection I had no business fighting for. Once it was over I had to face that I hadn’t walked away from my upbringing unscathed after all. Once I knew better, I did better and made many attempts to now help my sisters and my mother find their way back. But you can’t help anyone that doesn’t want to help themselves. You can’t force someone to see something they don’t believe is there. I have since given up trying and have removed myself from the line of Verbal Abuse fire that they dish out every time we get around one another.
My mother has been divorced for over twenty years but no real healing has occurred. When I find myself today speaking with any young women or men for that matter about relationships the main thing I stress is value. I share with them how important it is that they never accept anyone speaking to them poorly. Never allow anyone to dim their light or project their fears onto them. I share that love and respect come hand in hand. You can’t say you love and care about someone and then turn around and disrespect them. You can’t question who they are or half support and try to present it as love.
I share my journey into Becoming my authentic self and how it takes daily practice getting comfortable stopping anyone in their tracks when they use words to hurt you. I share how comfortable I have become saying NO and how walking away is also a sign of love. I love you enough to know this is not good for me so I will love you from a distance. Bad habits are quick to add and slow to remove so my perspectives didn’t change from one day to the next. Practice is key! No one wants to believe that someone they care about is actually hurting them but it happens every day. The signs are always there but our emotions cloud our judgment. Learning how to value ourselves means digging deep and listening closely to our spirit. Looking in the mirror and saying I have value.
Verbal abuse exists bosses do it, friends do it, family and loved ones do it. Notice it and stop it immediately. Practice honoring your feelings, allowing things to pass and process them instead of stuffing them away. Words hurt and damage just as any physical abuse does. And if you need help, get some.
Have you ever experienced verbal abuse from a loved one? Has your boss ever made you feel small? Did you ever tell your son/daughter that words are only words? Share your experience with me, let’s chat.
Always stress-free xo,