Words Hurt

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
Verbal abuse and effect on children

Submitted: November 05, 2016

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Submitted: November 05, 2016

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"i was pressured into adopting her"
"you're the reason i drink"
"she's only their half sister"
"since you don't like boys yet, are you gay?"
"you're a liar"
"you should put some makeup on"
"why are you hurting yourself just to get attention?"
"this is why you don't have any friends"
"i'm sending you to boarding school until you're 18"
"don't bother me until tomorrow"
"your mom is such a"
"your dad is such a"
"don't talk during dinner"
"you're lucky i don't beat you like i got beaten"
"i'll tell the rest of the family what you've done"
"you're about the dumbest person i've ever met"
"i'm tired of my life, i don't have anything to live for"

I experienced verbal abuse from age 5 (the first time i can actually remember) until the age of 18. At 5 years old I was simply called a "liar" for the first time by a grown man who was my "dad." Though that was small incident, I never forgot this because I was not lying about what he was accusing me of lying about. This situation ended with cops at my house and my mom telling my dad to never speak to me like that again, but he did. They both did. And the police were at my house a lot. Every single day there was yelling and screaming, door slamming, unnecessary name-calling and belittling, and criticism in ways you couldn't think imaginable. For a very long time I thought every child was talked to in the same way my siblings and I were until I realized I liked spending time at my grandparents or my friends homes a lot more than my own, mainly because I felt safer, there was hardly any yelling and was always a lot less anxious. A weird feeling would happen to me when I got home after school, or being away for the night or weekend, and I didn't know it then but from a young age I was experiencing anxiety. Every time I walked in the door. I was walking on egg shells in my own home, wondering what "stupid" mistake I would make to upset someone. My friends would come over sometimes and instantly ask me if we should play outside or at their house because they could feel tension and the air and often had the unpleasantry of seeing my parents fight and also verbally abuse one another. My close friends didn't care though because that's just how it was at my house.

Many random phrases have stuck with me all of this time not because I remember each instance specifically but because I remember how I felt when I heard my own parents say these things to me. Your parents are supposed to love you unconditionally, they are supposed to protect you from people and life and bad decision-making, they are supposed to put you before anything else ESPECIALLY themselves, they are supposed to make sacrifices so that you will eventually see how much they believed in you and your future, they are supposed to be your safe haven and your guide, they are who are supposed to lift you higher than they were lifted. They are not supposed to talk to you like you're a nuisance and irritant in their day, they are not supposed to call you names and be sarcastic, they are not supposed to force time away from you so they can "relax", they're not supposed to punish you so harshly and indefinitely that you don't even learn your lesson, they are not supposed to make you feel as small as possible by airing your laundry to family members or friends or even threatening to do so, they are not supposed to talk so badly about their spouse to you or in front of you, they are not supposed to teach you that demeaning people is ok and that their behavior is normal, and they are certainly not supposed to tell you they have nothing left to live for.

Due to lack of confidence given to me or taught to me, I have always been the shyest person I know. I was able to make many good girl friends through church and girls blessed with assertive personalities (they have no idea how much their friendships really meant/mean to me) I wasn't the easiest to get along with and sometimes I was the instigator or troublemaker but I have friends today that never held any of that against me, and I love their parents for teaching them that. At the age of 14 and a freshman in high school my parents questioned my sexuality. I was told "most girls already like boys by now, so if you're gay it's ok." Ok, just a side note, I was raised in a white community christian church my whole life and at this point I had never known a thing about homosexuality other than it was a "sin" and "unheard of." (*please do not take offense as this was long ago and I accept anyone and everyone no matter what, period) So I was in complete shock and more embarrassed than I had ever been in my life. I thought something was wrong with me. Thanks to the internet and Tom the Myspace creator, I looked to social media to find friends, eventually friending mainly boys..And that's just the small beginning of how I later attached myself to guys that would boost my ego or make me feel pretty. Unfortunately, girls (and boys) do not understand that at such a young age, emotions are uncontrollable, behavior is erratic, and children behave like CHILDREN, so let's just say I don't encourage young love. (*another side note though, i ended up finding the love of my life at 19 years old and he saved me, so i'm glad i attached myself to him) During a very emotional low I had in high school stemming from stress over boys, school, and home life, i began to scratch my skin as hard as I could for no reason, just to let out some crazy emotion. I would pull out my hair and cut up my clothes, I would get online and say absolute nonsense about wanting to psychically hurt everyone I knew, and I would often cry myself to sleep. Only to get up the following days and repeat it all and pretend I was fine. Eventually all this behavior behind my bedroom door led to my first full blown anxiety attack, several therapists, truly threatened with boarding school, and my door taken off my hinges to take away my privacy. I was questioned why I needed attention so badly and if "this was all because of a boy" (which it hardly ever was, it was because of them) I grew out of that stage though and decided to be a different person. When I was disciplined, I was often disciplined by humility. And by that I mean my "dad" would show up at my school and tell our liaison private home business and tell him to keep an eye on me (by the way i hardly got in trouble for anything at school and our liaison was and still is a good friend to me) or show up to my classmates houses, and my parents even removed me from my Girls Devotional Group (that i was in for many years) and told my leader about my behavior (to embarrass me) whom never contacted me or spoke to me again like several of the girls I had been close to for a decade.. which is a whole other story in itself, just know ladies, it wasn't very christian like to turn your back on your friend of 10 years, but hey I guess I was just a terrible sinner. Oh well, i'm not TOO bitter lol, fortunately I have grown as a person since then and am not the same hot mess from high school. *change your circumstances, change yourself*

My sister has probably experienced more verbal abuse than I have, as self absorbed as this post may sound, because she is several years younger than I am and couldn't always leave like I could. She was still living at home when things escalated even further between my parents and they eventually divorced. The saddest part for her is that she has been completely abandoned by her parents and she's not even out of high school yet. That's probably the worst kind of abuse you can get, being talked down to over and over and over again, then left (actually literally left on the road) and told to leave her own home. However, her story is her story to tell and I don't want to veer away from my point too far... 
I never really knew that my sister (and we have a super young brother) was my "half-sibling." That had never been talked about at my house before. I knew that my "dad" was not actually my dad since I was very little and it didn't bother me because he legally adopted me at the age of six and changed my last name to his, so I knew that to be my family and his family was also my family, my cousins and aunt and uncle and grandparents. But one day I overheard my "dads" family talking to friends they had over and they explicitly told them I was only my brother and sisters half sibling and that only my sister and infant brother at the time were my dads. I was standing 5 feet away and they're talking and looking at me like this conversation was normal. I remember feeling sick to stomach and getting nervous that they weren't my family anymore. A younger cousin of ours later whispered to my sister, loud enough that i could hear, and asked her "is lauren not really your sister?" and my sister said "i don't know." Honestly, this might sound tedious read in your mind but this broke my heart and I was only 12 years old. 10 years later though, my sister is one of the biggest blessings I have in my life and we don't know what "half-siblings" are, we are sisters, we are family and we are friends no matter how much dna we share. The same goes for my brother, who will appreciate me a little more when he is older lol.

Not every cringe-worthy phrase spoken to me is quoted or talked about in this article, but the point i'm trying to make is that the simplest thing can be said to a child, most importantly by their parents/parental figure, that completely changes them and not necessarily for the better. Quick tongues, short tempers, and negative attitudes are a small recipe for a huge disaster. Words stay in your mind until you find away to forget them and sometimes you never can. Yelling at your kids, yelling at your spouse is emotionally and physically draining for everyone involved and everyone witnessing it. It takes a toll on your mind and your energy, it causes distractions at school or sports, it causes mental and social anxiety and depression, it causes loss of interest in friends and activities, and it causes your child to grow up thinking it's ok to treat people like that."Yelling isn't hurting anyone" is bullshit. (*sorry for the language but not really) Does anyone want to be yelled at? Or criticized? Or belittled? Or abandoned? It's abuse. It's not ok.
Parents, love your kids more than you love yourself, it's that simple. 


© Copyright 2017 lauren miles. All rights reserved.

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