Can language be violent?
Words can be as violent as actions, it's called verbal abuse.
It is expressed by words that are insulting, hurtful, inferior, contemptuous, degrading and that affect the person who is subjected to them and that may harm his or her psychological integrity and moral well-being.
Do not underestimate the power of words because verbal violence is the most harmful, words have the power to leave a mark and cause repercussions that remain ingrained for years. Often internalized, some people tend to minimize it because it is not as visible as physical violence and therefore it is more difficult to act against it.
As we saw in one of our previous articles, language is often confusing and ill-intentioned people plead this lack of understanding as a reason for not taking responsibility for the verbal abuse they have shown. It is true that words often overtake thought when anger comes into play, but we must not let it control us, we are in control of our emotions and there are many ways to not let ourselves be overwhelmed by the situation.
There comes a time when there is no turning back, you can apologise, you can say that the words have gone beyond your thoughts but you will have crossed the line, you will have uttered one word too many that will make any relationship impossible to repair.
It is said that violent words are the blows we take to the soul, it is a beautiful picture of the feeling we can have when someone hurts us.
Certain words and phrases have become commonplace and almost harmless in categorizing people by replacing them with animals. Someone fat will be a pig, if we work hard we will say we work like dogs, if a girl is trying to seduce a man in an ambiguous way it will sound like a dog etc.
So many aggressive expressions that have become so banal, yet they deprive the person of all humanity, turning him or her into a beast. People only find them mean when they are repetitive and accompanied by other inappropriate behaviours, the truth is that sometimes we even use them with our friends to make humour so when we mix humour, cynicism and verbal violence we no longer know how to dissociate them from each other. The fact is that when it hurts a person it is called verbal abuse.
It is common that when someone annoys or hurts you, you exaggerate how their behaviour has affected you. If someone has hurt you deeply you try to make them understand by exaggerating the situation to make them feel guilty and pathetic for what they have done to you. This is an understandable human vengeful reaction, but when you do this you lower yourself to his level, which he does not deserve, plus if that person did not do these things or say these things to hurt you why would you do it in full knowledge of the facts.
Think that if you may have been hurt by someone then you may in turn hurt someone by using the exaggeration of the situation and your feelings to make the person feel guilty and demeaned. Also, if you spend your time exaggerating people around you will no longer trust the intensity of what you say and when something is really serious and you need them they will not believe you.
VIOLENCE AND LANGUAGE ARE INSEPARABLE
You don't decide to use physical violence for no reason. Physical violence starts with language, with verbal abuse before things get worse.
Language is the starting point for all violence, words when they are heavy with meaning tend to create situations that create tension and individuals whether they are prone to violence or not are influenced and affected by it.
Some words about some people result in hurting them, offending them, hurting their feelings and emotions, but in other people it leads to anger, sadness, disappointment and these kinds of emotions can lead to physical violence if the person or people are overwhelmed by such emotions.
For example, in times of war some people used to torture hostages to get information, dialogue or the other way around, they knew that the person knew nothing and was innocent, but used this as an opportunity to vent their anger and hatred using interrogations as a pretext for cruelty. Proof that violence and language are indeed linked.
WHY WORDS HURT
The real question is why we are so affected by these words, why they resonate in our minds years after they are spoken.
The fact is that when a person you love, whom you value, sends an image of you that is unpleasant to you through words, it is all the more hurtful because you know that person, you know their values and you respect them. This is not always the case in every moment of a relationship, but the person certainly did not mean to hurt you. It is understandable that we want to be seen as we see ourselves in the eyes of the people we love.
We want to be loved, we want them to understand who we are and we want them to "see" us. If they point out something that they don't like about us, it will reason with us for a long time and we will question ourselves, doubt ourselves, question ourselves and start to think that maybe they are right that we may not be as good as we thought we were.
If it comes from people we don't know or who are not close to us the words have less impact but we are still confronted with misunderstanding and indignation about that person's values. Taking the step of being verbally aggressive with someone sometimes appears to be a way of feeling superior, which is easy to understand but not always very noble.
If you have been confronted with verbal violence and you want to talk about it, do it with your loved ones and if you want to talk about it with a neutral person you can find people to talk with while learning languages in the language exchange section of our site. Remember that you are not alone.
Written by: Lisa Lambert, Staff Writer
- Learning Languages
- 27 Feb, 2020
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