Verbal Violence: 3 Manifestations of Violence Through Language

January 21, 2018

Verbal violence is one of the most harmful forms of aggression. On one hand, words have the power to leave a mark with repercussions lasting for many years. On the other hand, verbal violence is often buried or socially permissible.

It’s not as visible as physical violence, and because of this it’s more difficult to take action against it.

Words don’t leave physical traces either. That’s the reason there’s often a halo of impunity around them. Many people deny their own words, say they were misinterpreted or even say that words shouldn’t be taken seriously when there’s anger involved.

The truth is that violent words are like blows for the soul, sometimes very hard blows. That’s why they are not ok.

“I distrust the incommunicable. It is the source of all violence.”
-Jean Paul Sartre-

Violent language harms people and ruins relationships. A relationship will never be the same again after certain words are said. They cross the line of respect and consideration that the other person deserves.

In fact, that’s why words affect people and leave scars on them. Below, we’ll talk about three manifestations of verbal violence.

Comparing people to animals: a clear expression of verbal violence

Although the violence in this way of communicating is obvious, the truth is that it’s quite common in everyday language. Some people call another human being a pig. The pig is the animal of choice for those who are not very elegant or have a high body mass index.

A woman in a pumpkin carriage with two dalmatian dogs.

These words are so common they’ve been incorporated into our everyday speech. They are socially accepted and actually aren’t even considered all that rude. They’re considered normal unless used too often or accompanied by other signs of contempt.

People also compare themselves to animals. Maybe we don’t say we’re working very hard. Instead, we say “we’re working like a dog”.

The most toxic part of these comparisons and the like is that they deprive the person of their humanity. They are so frequently used that they validate a sort of “law of the jungle” where respect ceases to be important.

Verbal violence: the use of hyperboles for negative emotions

This is very common with people who are very anxious or easily overwhelmed by anger. They choose to express all their negative feelings and emotions in exaggerated terms.

They don’t say that another person messed up their work schedule and it bothered them. Instead, they yell about what a lack of respect this shows and how it makes them sick.

A masked woman is shooting a bird from a bow like an arrow.

They’re not angry; they’re furious. They aren’t sad; they have a dagger in their heart. This type of person always chooses the most extreme way of showing their pain or anger. The purpose is not to express themselves, but to harass the other person with those expressions.

The problem hyperboles is that eventually they cause the opposite effect. Instead of making a strong impression on others, they end up numbing them.

They may have some effect at the beginning, but if they become routine, these comments lose their apparent effectiveness. In this way, sooner rather than later, people will end up becoming deaf towards these expressions.

Eternal repetition: the same old complaint

Extreme reiterations of claims or complaints are also a form of expression which involves violent language. Insisting on the same recriminating formulas is equivalent to an attempt to mark others with words. It stigmatizes or limits them to one single meaning.

Repetitive speech is a form of unilateral communication. But beyond that, it’s an attempt to impose meaning.

The worst part is that it’s an attempt made in a most primitive way. It’s inserting words into the conscience of the other person. That’s why it invalidates the listener. It reduces them to the target or aim of a unilateral message.

A labyrinth can be found inside the mind.

Any of these three formulas — comparison to animals, hyperboles and repetition of complaints — harm communication. With them, meanings are distorted or lost. They aren’t expressions designed to foster understanding, but rather language devices for attack.

Think about whether you use any of these three ways of communicating. If so, we encourage you to put a sign that says “Do not enter”at the head of those paths. For your sake and for the sake of those around you.