Sticks, Stones, and Verbal Abuse
Browbeaters never stop following us. We’ve had them when were toddlers, we’ve had in grade school and high school. We have it in college and we’ll definitely have a lot more of it when we start working. Gossip is spread, and relationships are destroyed – all because some people can’t mind their own lives.
Our parents would always tell us to say, “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” As much as I would like to say that it’s the trick into getting rid of all negativity, it isn’t. Words can hurt even more than physical pain because physical pain can heal in time. Words, on the other hand, can scar you emotionally and psychologically. Hurtful words take years to heal. In some cases, people are bullied to the point where they lose their self-worth and eventually, the will to live.
A study conducted by Plan Philippines shows that verbal abuse is most the most predominant form of violence in the in all the school levels they studied. One of their key findings is that “children’s peers, more than adults, are the perpetrators of violence in schools. (Plan-international.org)”
A lot of us may have experienced this. Unfortunately, the practice of denigration is still carried over college, where people are supposedly capable of giving constructive criticism. Some of us experience it in a light manner; where the rumors aren’t so destructive. Some are not so lucky as to experience verbal abuse that can ruin their reputation. One thing about college is that it’s a little easier for us to bear insults because most of the time we are busy with more important things, like passing the next exam. Some are fortunate enough to have friends to protect them. That, at least, makes belittlement easier to handle.
But what of those who do not find solace in others? Those who prefer their own company? Those who look and act different? What exactly do we mean by different? Some perceive difference as a representation of what they think is bad. If one dresses differently from most, they are labeled ‘unfashionable’. If one student stutters at a recitation, he or she is labeled ‘stupid.’ This deviation from monotonycan cause a stir, and sometimes it can lead to appalling rumors. A closer look at society will reveal that our perception of normal may not be the same for others. Why then, do we brand people according to our standards?
At least once in our lives, we make assumptions about people. Sometimes, we talk about it to others just for kicks, or because we don’t like a certain person and we want to vent out our frustrations. But we should also remember the people we dislike have feelings as well, and that they have their own assumptions of us yet they choose to keep it to themselves. Maybe, they are just waiting for the right time to get to know us more before judging us.
When we see people who don’t fit our definition of ‘normal’, we immediately reject them and only interact with them when we have no choice.
Nevertheless, right or wrong, we have to learn how to keep our assumptions to ourselves because the person we are “judging” may not be what we think they are. They might be going through a great deal of pain while we add to that pain and watch them suffer. We have to be considerate as well because most of us know the pain and the struggle of wading through rumors upon rumors. We have to remember that we are not those people and that we do not know why they are the way they are. A little consideration can go a long way. It can save a life, or make a new friend, or regain an old one. Who knows? We all have to remember how to be “human”.
We all also hear new rumors about us from friends who love gossip. From friends who may not be friends. We have to remain strong as well. Sure, let it affect us for a few minutes, hours, maybe even days. But we must remember that we have friends or family members who have gone through similar experiences, that we have people who won’t leave us even if we are thought to be monsters. To be strong in the face of adversity and if we can, speak up for those who are too afraid to speak up for themselves. If we can be strong for ourselves and if we can be strong for our friends when they need us, we can be strong for a stranger who has no one: who needs somebody who will reach out and help.
We must not show how it affects us and we have to pick ourselves back up because if we stay down and if we stay broken, the haters win. Let them keep their opinions about us. About those they hate. We don’t have to stoop down to their level. We just have to be strong and move forward.
“The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief” -William Shakespeare