Attitudes are one of the first things people see about us. But is what we project always honest? How often are our real attitudes hidden from the public view, yet thrown on the ones we love the most, to bear?
A friend of mine, warm, caring and upbeat has a husband who is also known by the identical attributes by their friends. Yet family must deal with bouts of explosive anger and meanness that is startling. The recipient of most of his outbursts is his wife. While verbal abuse would usually be the most accurate description from her husband, she has shared there are occasions when the situation becomes physically abusive, as well.
How do we, as a society, regard verbal abuse? Repulsive language has become the norm in most circles of young people. Even in public arenas, teenagers have no problem being very vocal with their offensive language to each other. Since this type of conversation is considered acceptable, how can we determine when verbal abuse is being displayed? Is it when the language is just considered offensive, or is it when the language is hurtful?
There is an old adage: “Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words will never harm me.” I completely disagree with this thought process. Words can be as vicious as any attack on the human body. Words can destroy the inner most place of the heart and mind, as well as peace, self-respect, confidence and a person’s perspective of themselves, their world, and leave irreparable scars.
Recently at a funeral, picketers flaunted signs saying a young soldier deserved to die because the protesters did not agree with the war. The parent’s hearts were breaking with the loss of their young son who chose to serve his country and simultaneously attacked verbally at his funeral. Freedom of speech is one of our guaranteed rights in the Constitution, but there is a thin line between freedom of speech for one and abusive behavior to another.
Just as the mourning family had the right to mourn with dignity without the stabs of verbal abuse from those who disagree with his beliefs, so in every day households a line exists between verbal abuse and sharing disgruntled feelings between spouses. No one should have to hear words deliberately hurled at them which are hurtful and mean, especially consistently from someone who is supposed to love you.
Statistics show verbal abuse is often a prelude to physical abuse. The issue, however, is defining verbal abuse. It seems everyone has their own opinion. Yet, clearly when a person is attacked verbally through put down, humiliation or through the means of making a person feel guilty, there is a problem.
Is the person hurling the angry, mean words aware of the pain they cause? Is there a way to explain to them the pain they are causing without creating other issues? To find fault is to point out a weakness. An accusation of weakness is to “hit below the belt” and could cause the person to become even angrier leaving the victim of verbal abuse afraid to respond to the attack; a problem which seems to be growing rapidly in our world.
I would suggest if this defines your world, talk with someone and seek counseling before your situation becomes a world which ultimately becomes violent. The sooner you address it, the sooner help will come.
Some signs of verbal abuse:
· Negative name calling and constant criticizing
· Sarcastic words designed to put you down making you feel worthless
· Yelling, swearing and cussing at or to you which makes you feel like you are walking on eggshells because you
can't be sure what is going to be the reason for the next outburst
· Intimidation by threats even if your spouse laughs and says it is just meant as joking
· Getting blamed for every outburst your spouse exhibits
For more information there are many sites available online. Google or use another search engine “signs of verbal abuse.”