Bullycide: Can Words Really Hurt?

  • Posted: November 15, 2009 and this post was last modified April 4, 2011.

Some people think that it is weak to not be able to handle ‘criticism’ or ‘name calling’. After all, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words could never hurt me. Some think that because they can let bad words roll off their back that others should be able to get over them too; that we should be able to distinguish between the good words and the bad. But words can do no harm, right?

The problem with taking for granted the fact that words have no physical attribute to cause visible harm is that we miss the opportunity to help and heal those who are being abused by them. Words can motivate men to do the most vile of evil acts or sway the minds of the innocent to help others. They can be helpful as much as harmful, but we sometimes forget the real power they can have.

If words had no power, there would be no reason for prose, poetry, or even speech writers. If what we said could not motivate someone to something better or break someone down, there would be no motivational speakers or need for confrontational interrogations.

We think because we have the ability to distinguish words that are being thrown at us in a mere attempt to break us down versus the truth that others can too. But what about the person who is constantly being pestered? If over and over, all they hear is what a loser they are? And it certainly doesn’t help that no one can help them, hear them, or understand their cries. What about the victim who does not know better? The child that has secluded their doubts from anyone that could reassure them that they are a better person than the bully says they are or the one who just does not have the words to voice their pain?

We can’t use ignorance though; we cannot say that we could not help because we were not told. A bully is not the best at keeping his motives a secret; he enjoys an audience just as much as he enjoys torturing his victim. And the ones that do hide in the shadows are not exactly hiding their secret well; whether it be the apparent distress of the victim or the marks he leaves behind, a bully is usually noticeable. But we can’t do anything, right? We can’t stop the bully from using his right to free speech and we certainly cannot follow him around and make sure that he doesn’t belittle anyone in his path. We can’t even always protect the victims from the actual physical violence that a bully does in fact inflict.

See a bully is not always a verbal abuser, and bullycide is not the only result of being bullied over and over. There are victims of bullies who have physical and visual wounds; there are victims of bullies who have been fatally wounded as well. A victim can be an extreme narcissist or just enjoy the thrill of seeing someone suffer at their doing. Whatever the reason, a bully can be mildly or extremely dangerous, and while we may think the extreme is the physical violence, sometimes the emotional violence can feel just as painful for the victims.

Can words really hurt? If we think that words can uplift us, motivate us, drive us, move us, and inspire us, why is it so hard of a stretch to think that they can hurt us?

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