may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. I wonder who coined that phrase. Whomever they were, they were sure mistaken. It’s a crock of shit.
I’ve been thinking of my students lately. I know many of them have lived in situations where they have been verbally abused. It is no wonder that they act as they do. They build up their shields and everything bounces off of them. It’s a defense mechanism. And I don’t blame them.
This past week, I was the target of a verbal assault. I call it an assault because that’s what it felt like. I made a courtesy phone call to a parent to explain a situation and didn’t see the rocket fire coming. I didn’t have time to erect my puke shield. In fact, I would have never thought I needed it. This was a former colleague that I was calling. I’d known him for 15 years. Boy, was I wrong.
I won’t get into any details. But I know that the anger was a result of misinformation and directed at the wrong person.
After the call, I was literally shaking. I was stunned. I am not the kind of person that evokes that kind of anger in ANYONE. I am the queen of conflict resolution and non-confrontational situations. I have never been subjected to that kind of assault in my entire life. That evening I felt exhausted, but kept re-playing the incident over and over in my head. I didn’t sleep well. The next day, I had a dull headache the entire day. Even when a student asked me how I was, I said, “Better, now that I see your smiling face.” But I didn’t necessarily feel that way.
I didn’t actually feel better until I went over to my parents’. I don’t know if you can shoulder that kind of abuse alone. Having the unconditional support of them means everything. After all, they actually know the perp. They know and understand what I had just gone through.
The thing that I keep thinking about is, if I were physically assaulted, I could press charges. It is unacceptable to be physically assaulted. So why is it acceptable to be verbally assaulted? People verbally assault each other all the time and it is widely accepted. Free speech? That’s crap. Just because you can’t quantify how much the words hurt in relation to a punch doesn’t mean that it’s ok.
And what good did that tirade do? Maybe it made the perp feel better. It made me feel horrible for at least a day. I know the kid got what he wanted – an excuse to not do something he never wanted to do in the first place.
If I could press charges, I would. I’m a firm believer that bad behavior shouldn’t be excused no matter what your circumstances. No one has the right to inflict that kind of pain on another human being. I don’t care what your excuse is.
Sticks and stones may break my bones. But at least there’s a consequence for that kind of action.