Published On: Mon, Aug 14th, 2017

Matters of the Mind: Sticks & Stones

bullying“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me,” is an old rhyme created to persuade victims of name-calling to ignore the taunts, refrain from physical retaliation and remain calm and good-natured. I learned this rhyme in elementary school, and to this day, it is the biggest lie I’ve ever been taught. Words hurt, and if I could’ve chosen between a broken bone and being bullied, I would’ve chosen broken bones every single time. This is coming from a person who has been through both.

Psychology Today describes bullying as “a distinctive pattern of harming and humiliating others, specifically those who are in some way smaller, weaker, younger or in any way more vulnerable than the bully. Bullying is not garden-variety aggression; it is a deliberate and repeated attempt to cause harm to others of lesser power.”

It is something that is painfully repetitive. Your everyday life becomes a battlefield, and words become grenades you have to learn how to dodge or accept sudden death. You get beaten for being different, and start to forget what love is. In fact, you grow up believing that no-one will ever love you – that you’d be lonely forever, and happiness isn’t something you’re worthy of. You drown in the lies. The names they call you become the pillows you cry yourself to sleep in – or stay up all night wondering when the pain will end – when life will end. The bruises become tattoos embedded in your skin, and even when you no longer see them, the memories of them remain – haunting you forever; but you remember how you got them, more than how they actually looked. The pain never goes away, because not all wounds are healed by time.

According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), “Emotional abuse can increase the risk of a child developing mental health problems, eating disorders or can lead to them self-harming. The experiences that a child has when they’re a baby or toddler, can affect them throughout their life. Some research suggests there’s a link between emotional abuse in early years and a child developing problems with eating or language. As a child gets older, or the abuse continues, these effects can become more serious. Teenagers who have been emotionally abused over a long period of time are more likely to self-harm and experience depression than children who are not emotionally abused.

Emotional abuse can also restrict a child’s emotional development, including their ability to feel and express a full range of emotions appropriately, and to control their emotions. Children who grow up in homes where they are constantly berated and belittled may experience self-confidence and anger problems. Children who don’t get the love and care they need from their parents may find it difficult to develop and maintain healthy relationships with other people later in life. Adults who have been emotionally abused as children have a much lower satisfaction with life and higher level of depression and health problems compared to those who have experienced a different form of child abuse

And Emotional abuse can cause a child to change the way that they behave. They might not care how they act or what happens to them, this is also known as negative impulse behavior. Or they may try to make people dislike them, which is called self-isolating behavior.”

by Julie Alcin