Sticks & Stones: Why Verbal Abuse Kills, Part II

By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved

Sticks and stones
May break my bones,
But words could even kill me…

Have you noticed that while you are accumulating birthdays the you inside doesn’t get any older? Somewhere in my late 20’s I realized I didn’t feel any different than I had when I was 18 or 22. Now I look in the mirror and think, “Who is that middle-aged woman?” I’m still the same me I was 25 years ago; I just have more experience.

This phenomenon illustrates the reality that who we are is not defined by our physical bodies. Yes, our physical appearance and health can influence who we are, but who we are is not our bodies. Because this is true, there is another reason why verbal abuse is just as powerful, and more certainly deadly, than physical abuse.

Physical wounds heal relatively quickly. Wounds to your personhood – emotions, mind, psyche – often never heal. Time certainly isn’t the healer of these wounds. When you look back at physical wounds received in the past there is no pain, the memory of what it felt like is dimmed by time. In fact, the pain you feel in retrospect is more likely be the emotional/mental pain attached to the incident, not the physical pain.

But psychological pain — pain within the you inside your skin — is just as fresh today as it was 15 years ago. And in retrospect, the pain of a physical assault is no different from the pain of a raging verbal abuse. The pain is due to the assault on your person, as I wrote in part 1.

This is also why the pain of abuse is cumulative. You don’t “get over it” so the next assault is falling on a clean slate. The next assault is falling on wounded, broken places, tearing them down further.

One Response

  1. Its so funny that you say that. I have always said that I still feel like I am 12 years old.
    Its as if I haven’t grown up since then because what happened before then began a pattern for the rest of my life.
    That little girl inside me needs to heal and grow up into the woman who is so old now on the outside.
    She needed protection, was too shy and insecure to leave the house to find it, like my sister did, by finding a compassionate
    mentor mother/ neighbour.
    I am grateful that my actual mother became a Christian when I was in my late 20’s. It became a point of healing and hope between us and in my life.
    And my faith in the word was my wellspring of courage in my terrible marriage with my husband.
    But I have so far to go.

    It all begins with accepting what is. Accepting the past
    and accepting the present. Not running away from it,
    and saying, “No, this can’t be happening to me, this
    doesn’t belong to me.”
    This has been a problem for me all along.

    Jesus gave the parable of the talents, which basically says,
    “Its not what you have, it’s what you do with what you

    He placed the responsibility for our own selves and our
    reactions to circumstances on our shoulders.

    We can’t run away from ourselves and from what is.
    It is what it is. And that’s all.

    We have to ask God to help us with his word, his spirit,
    and his love.

    Thank God that I am his Child.

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