• Karen Heckman Stork


Quote of the Day: Some people hit with fists, others with words. Frank Sonnenberg

I was asked by a good friend to expand upon verbal abuse which I discuss in my book “Screw the Eggshells — Finding My Self After Verbal and Emotional Abuse.”

It took me 20 years to understand just how destructive verbal abuse can be. Merriam-Webster describes verbal abuse as “harsh and insulting language directed at a person..” I would add to the definition: insulting remarks, sarcastic jokes and hurtful teasing. Most people dealing with such behavior only smile and laugh along. Those who have experienced verbal and emotional abuse know that it usually begins slowly with seemingly good-natured joking and insults. The person on the receiving end of such insults usually cannot retaliate with words for fear of escalation of the verbal abuse into physical violence or because they think they deserve it.

I was naive and innocent. when I married at age 21. As the marriage progressed, my husband and I never talked about the problems in our relationship, mainly because I didn’t insist on it. My husband’s controlling behavior and incessant questioning grew more frequent as the years passed. I had to learn to walk on eggshells and be so careful about what I said so he wouldn’t get angry. I didn’t want to do anything to disturb the calm superficial surface of our existence.

In my 30s, I still didn’t understand how relationships could be brought down by the insidious and silent destroyer that is verbal abuse. It was difficult for me to explain to others the damage that could be caused by verbal abuse. I felt like people would not understand and might think, “Well, it’s only words; it’s not physical.” As the years passed, however, I learned by living it that verbal abuse is a killer of one’s self-image, and reduces to nothingness the joy and hope that continuously try to take root in the soul.

With each incident, with each put down, with each outburst of verbal abuse, the ball of words that my husband hurled clung to me like pollen blown on the wind builds up when landing on a compliant flower. The avalanche of abuse began to take over my mind; I didn’t know how to get away from it, and I was slowly fading and sinking beneath its weight.

My book begins with what happened on one fateful night when I finally decided to “screw the eggshells.” I also share my early years of growing up as well as the adventures and realized dreams I experienced after finding my “self.” Helpful insights and resources are provided for those finding themselves in similar situations.

Action For The Week: Perform a random act of kindness for a stranger.

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