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Words Can Wound

16th March 2022. Reading Time: 2 minutes 593 page views.

As a trainee facilitator with David Nugent, I’ve had cause to reflect on the many different types of family violence and how these types of behaviours present themselves.

As a trainee facilitator with David Nugent I’ve had cause to reflect on the many different types of family violence and how these types of behaviours present themselves.

It is possible for one action or one interaction to contain more than one type of abuse. I saw this played out at a recent family function. My adult daughter and her grandfather share the same birthday so held a small family party to celebrate. My daughter’s nine-year-old cousin, Tim* came along and he quickly grew bored as the only child with a bunch of adults. My daughter and a couple of other party goers agreed to take him for a walk to the local park.

While they were on the walk, Tim’s behaviour towards my daughter became increasingly aggressive. As well as hitting her several times, he made the following remark in a taunting and cruel tone of voice, “I remembered it was Granddad’s birthday, but I forgot that it was yours.”

In this single remark, Tim has been verbally and emotionally abusive and has also demonstrated gaslighting behaviour. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Verbal abuse because it was spoken
  • Emotional abuse because the intention was to hurt her feelings
  • Gaslighting as he was lying with the intention of undermining her sense of worth

So, what may seem to be a throwaway remark can impact a person in a multitude of ways. If a person is on the receiving end of this type of behaviour over a prolonged period of time, the damage caused can be enormous. It can take years to recover from and some people may never recover.

Now that I’ve watched David facilitate the men’s behaviour change program, I understand why he invites men to reflect on their style of communication with their partners, their children, and others. David gets them to think about the motivation behind their words and actions.

Asking yourself the following questions may help shift your mindset and stop your abuse:

  • What is the motivation behind my actions and words?
  • What is the underlying belief that makes me think it’s acceptable to use these actions/words to achieve my aim?
  • Is this view truly aligned with my values?  
  • What impact will this have on the people around me?


Consider how your actions may be impacting those around you. Hopefully this consideration will lead to you making a change and being kinder in your communication. Just this one small change can go a long way towards healing the damage that may have been done in the past.