“Words will never hurt me” is a concept that is wishful thinking. Words in fact have great power.
There are countless examples of the power of the spoken word, from the great oratories of political leaders like Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler who with their words inspired or incited their countrymen, to scripture about Jesus who “spoke the word and they were healed.” What have life coaches been telling us about the power of positive affirmation? What kind of self-talk to we give ourselves?
I think we can all agree that words have power.
People tend to think of domestic violence as actively hitting or beating another person, when in fact there is a class of verbal abuse that is painful as well. True, it does not bruise, break bones or cause one to bleed, but the psyche can indeed be bruised. Violent diatribes for long periods of time cause stress and a wounding of the spirit. Verbal abuse can lead to physical abuse.
This is also called bullying. It can occur at school at work or at home and in varying degrees. Whether it’s just a short phrase: “You’re stupid!” or a longer rant, it is still verbal abuse.
On the other hand, the effect of the words “I love you” or “I’m sorry” are calming to the spirit, and healing.
Reports show that in the U.S. in 1997 the emotional abuse rate was at 15 percent out of 817,665 cases stretching across 43 states (Barriere, 2008). In 1995, a study of 1,000 women, 15 years of age and up, reported that 36 percent of women were emotionally abused while growing up; they also found that 39 percent of women were emotionally abused in a relationship within the past 5 years (Barriere, 2008). Emotional abuse occurs while children are growing up, and during adulthood in various types of relationships. It affects men, women, and children, old and young.
No matter who you are, there are resources to help. If you are in need of emergency help in a domestic violence situation, dial 911. If you feel that you fall into a group of victims that have no advocate, check out SAFE: Stop Abuse for Everyone, A Human Rights Agency. Avert damage by learning techniques to deflect harsh words.
Consider your words. And the words of others.
Words CAN hurt. What impact will your words have today?
Like the saying goes, “Keep your words sweet, you never know when you may have to eat them.”