By Noni Anika
“But if thoughts corrupt language , language can also corrupt thought.” A resonating and powerful quote stated by the famous 19th century author George Orwell. Most people would not truly understand the depth of this sentence. And others instantaneously connect it to an experience by which words either hurt or healed them. It wasn’t until recently that I became aware of the power of words . I realized that the mantras of self- doubt buzzing in my brain sounded a lot like my father. My feelings of inadequacy had stemmed from the man with the most influence in my life. Even my mother’s advice of “just ignore him” did not serve as a proper therapy during my childhood. You never think it’s an issue when you are younger. Because the verbal mistreatment was coming from home, I normalized it along with my low self esteem and negative mindset. It wasn’t until I began my self love journey that I had realized what I had been a victim of this and that the perpetrator was one of my parents.
Verbal and emotional abuse are learned behaviors that plague the African American community today. Generation after generation, a black child is socialized to be disrespected by their loved ones yet demand esteem from the world they live in. For some strange reason, positive language is scarce in familial communication and words of debasement is seen as necessary mold to make the youth “prepared” for reality. This warped mindset has caused more harm than good. In fact, psychologists have found that verbal abuse causes just as much damage as a neurotoxin and actually physically stunts the development of the brain.Tests have showed significant levels of anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, dissociation and drug abuse specifically in African American communities. It has also been reported that approximately 7.6% of our youth have been verbally and psychologically abused out of the 12.4% that make up the population. These are only the known reports. There are many broken homes that are left unaccounted for.
If corrective action is not taken, the vicious lasting cycle will continue. Neither humor or emotions make verbal abuse excusable. Growth and self love is never truly attained in a toxic environment. Brothers and sisters please do not think that you are immune to the negative effects of toxic words. It does penetrate and cause damage long term. Be honest with yourself and evaluate the type of communication you have with your family and loved ones. If the conversation involves consistent positive affirmations and expressions of decent honesty then it poses no threat to your emotional health. However, if there is constant disrespect, negativity, and apprehension in your frequent conversations you have to act immediately to limit your exposure. Protect your conscience and subconscious mind. If verbal abuse happens in a space of peace be sure to confront the issue at hand and demand what you would like to hear. Be sure to filter what you hear and digest. Distinguish the constructive from the destructive. Create a list ,long or short, of affirmations you want and need to believe. Recite whenever necessary so your voice will be the utmost important and strong. In extreme situations, the best option would be to remove yourself from that environment.
It is never too late to create friction when regarding the topic of verbal abuse The cycle will not stop unless we stop accepting such behavior from our loved ones. Words hold power despite cultural and ethnic differences. It is how we are taught to deal with how words can affect us that can influence positive relationships and conversations. Today, choose to no longer be part of the problem and become a revolutionary dedicated to the solution in our community. Uplift, encourage and spread love!