As I’ve discussed in several of my posts lately, my first boyfriend was abusive.
He didn’t hit me very often (in fact, I only remember him hitting me once). He didn’t need to. He could bench press 300 lbs, so I was just a rag doll to him. He pushed me around, threw me into things, or picked me up and shook me when he was angry. If I tried to run away, he would grab my arm so tightly that it would leave bruises in the shape of his hand.
Those things hurt. They hurt badly. And the bruises were ugly, purple and green.
It’s been five years. They don’t hurt anymore. And the bruises are gone.
But my first boyfriend left some bruises that haven’t faded. Bruises that can’t be seen. Bruises that still hurt.
Bruises caused by the impact of words.
I haven’t done the research, but I would guess that verbal abuse is far more widespread than physical abuse. As easy as it is to get away with physical abuse (hint: it’s pretty damn easy), getting away with verbal abuse is even easier. I would assume that this is partly because people do not take verbal abuse that seriously.
But it still hurts. The words always come back to me, always in his voice.
Whenever I firmly stand up for what I believe I hear,
Whenever I am reminded of the fact that I am not a virgin due to the sexual abuse I suffered as a child I hear,
Whenever I study for a difficult exam in college I hear,
“You’re too stupid for college.”
When my current boyfriend tells me he loves me I hear,
“You don’t deserve to be loved.”
I know they say that words can’t hurt, but to be honest, I think I’d rather take my chances with the sticks and the stones.
Physical abuse is a terrible, terrible thing. But don’t ever think that verbal abuse is not terrible as well. Don’t ever think that just because your wounds aren’t tangible the pain you suffer isn’t legitimate.
If you have suffered verbal abuse, you have been hurt and it is okay to need to heal. I belittled myself for years for letting those words bother me. I thought I was weak for that.
But the truth is, words can hurt.
So, how do we heal?
I’m still in the healing process myself, so I am not an expert. But the best advice I can give you is combat the lies by constantly filling yourself with the truth. And surround yourself with others that fill you with the truth.
God doesn’t make mistakes. You are a beautiful creation. You are significant. You are enough.