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The Crushing Consequences of Verbal Abuse

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Sometimes the words cut deep to your soul.

You hear them on the street, in your house, in your very own mind. They are the words both spoken and unspoken that always seem to justify the way others treat you so poorly and the reason you are so comfortable hurting yourself.

These words that have been seared into your brain for as long as you can remember. How your teachers called you dumb, the doctors called you crazy and your sister called you a whore.

It is the negative words that are as much a part of you as your own DNA. It is the way someone comments on the clothes that you are wearing or a decision you have made, in that tone of voice, the one that makes it obvious they do not approve. Sometimes it is even seen in a not so subtle roll of the eyes.

It is the fake smiles and awkward laughter as you self-consciously cross your arms in an attempt to guard yourself from any more unwanted attacks.

It is being told you are not good enough, by words and actions and worst of all… inaction.

These words that you have carried for oh so-long-that feel like a ton of bricks. These words you have been wanting to rid yourself of since the very first moment your innocence was shattered and you knew you weren’t good enough.

These words are the reason I am ashamed of myself.

These words are the reason I can’t stand to look at myself in the mirror and the reason I am never satisfied with my own image.

Magazines and billboards did not do this to me, no. I always knew those expectations were unrealistic.

What has hurt me the most has come directly from the mouths of people. It was feeling unwanted at home, it was the boys calling me fat and laughing at school, it was being sexually molested and harassed and not ever truly feeling like my body was my own.

These are some of the reasons I am what I am. My eating disorder, self-harm, suicide attempts and ongoing battle with mental ill health… it all comes back to the way I was made to feel by abusers and bullies with their weapon of choice: words.

Words have a lasting impact on a person’s heart, soul and mind. Words matter.

There will always be people in denial. The same people who claim we are overly sensitive, dramatic or unforgiving. These are the same people who abuse, bully, threaten and intimidate. They are unhappy and unfulfilled in their own life therefore they attack others with words to put them down.

It is unacceptable and it needs to stop. These people need to be held accountable for their behavior.

Words are powerful. They have the power to end lives just as they have the power to save lives. So take a moment and reflect on your own words, especially now. Everyone is on social media and more easily effected.

I, for one, am done being treated like this. I resent the verbal abuse I’ve experienced for years and I will no longer tolerate being disrespected, looked down upon or judged.

We are living in uncertain times, now, forever awaiting the end of this pandemic. I know people are stressed out and worried and a hundred other emotions, but we need to be aware of the impact our words have on other people.

Words matter. Remember that.

Getty image via Maria Voronovich
Originally published: May 6, 2020
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