When we think of verbal abuse, we tend to think of a man yelling at a woman: the classic picture of an abused housewife seems to come to mind. But verbal abuse goes way beyond a husband yelling at a wife.
Every day, people yell and scream at each other for asinine reasons, and it’s bordering on abuse if it hasn’t already crossed that line. As a society, we need to start paying more attention to the impacts of verbal abuse and start working toward ending it.
It has lasting effects on our lives, and the lives of our friends, families, co-workers, and even strangers. We tend to brush it under the rug because things are said in the heat of the moment, or by saying “that’s just the way she talks to him.” It’s not okay. Here are 5 reasons to stop excusing verbal abuse.
1) Verbal Abuse Changes Our Brains
The child who is told he is stupid will grow up thinking he is stupid. When we hear things enough times, we start to believe them. Our brains can be rewired to believe anything we tell it.
So, it makes sense if we grow up hearing negative things about ourselves, we will believe them. Our brains like to take the path of least resistance, so even if you recognize at a young age that you are not stupid, hearing it over and over again will eventually win over.
2) We’re Saying it’s Okay
If we don’t speak up against verbal abuse, for ourselves, and for others, it means we are saying it’s okay.
Now, you will defend yourself saying it’s not your problem, or that it doesn’t bother you, or that inaction is not the same as saying it’s okay, but the truth is that it is your problem, is should bother you, and inaction is not acceptable.
Many people spend their whole lives being a verbal punching bag for others including men, women, and children.
Some are more susceptible to this kind of verbal abuse than others, especially children who grew up in abusive homes. We often think that the things we say can’t hurt people, but every word can cut like a knife.
3) Non-Verbal Abuse is a Real Thing
Verbal abuse goes beyond the words we use: it includes the tones we take, the body language we exhibit, and the gestures we make.
If you’ve ever rolled your eyes at someone and been caught, you know the kind of impact that simple gesture can have on people.
It’s downright insulting. Non-verbal abuse can be ignoring someone or giving them the silent treatment.
Sometimes abusive men will ignore their wives or partners as a way to punish them. It’s amazing how much you can hurt a person without saying a single word.
4) You’re Reducing Someone’s Worth
When we don’t speak up against verbal abuse, we are taking away someone’s dignity and their right to be safe.
We tend to think that only physical abuse is the real danger, but psychological abuse can change a person’s life forever. If you’ve ever told yourself you look fat while looking in the mirror, it’s hard to get that thought out of your head as you walk around the rest of the day.
Now imagine that someone else told you that you looked fat – how would you feel? People walk around hiding those feelings every single day. If they don’t speak up for themselves, they will continue to reduce their own worth.
If we see verbal abuse, or if we are being verbally abusive to someone, we need to stop and check ourselves. It’s not okay to take away someone’s self-worth.
5) You’ll Take on Those Traits
If you don’t take the time to recognize that verbal abuse is destructed and psychologically damaging to people, then you might start to adopt that abusive nature yourself.
By not stepping in or not doing something about the abuse, you are tricking your brain into saying it is okay, and you may eventually become that kind of person yourself. When you condone the behavior, your brain is more likely to adopt it.
We know this is true about human behavior because of all the things we refrain from doing: if you were told not to do drugs as a kid because drugs could kill you, you likely still have that same thought process today.
So if you see verbal abuse and you don’t intervene, your brain might start to recognize that as acceptable behavior. If it’s not a threat to you, then it must be okay.