When the verbal vomit from a shouting bully has been heaved over your life, you need to recover and get smart. Empower yourself with some worded wisdom.
It wasn’t just the loudness of voice; it was also the barrage of words.
Condemning, harsh, judgemental words flowing wild and free like vomit from a firehose.
I was watching the recipient of the shouting and could see they were in shell shock.
Stunned, they weren’t there anymore. They had retreated into themselves.
A few words whispered out of them but covered in word vomit they were lost to the moment.
Have you ever been yelled at?
Perhaps being shouted at has been a regular feature in your life.
It’s not just confined to childhood either. Adults get shouted at too.
Violence can come in words as well as with fists.
You can be beaten down with a tongue as well as with a hand. You won’t see a physical scar or bruise, but the soul will be crushed and broken.
The shouting aftermath
After the word storm, you may well be saying to yourself …
- It’s all my fault
- I deserve this
- I can’t get it right
- I’m no good
When you find something you can say in response you’re dismissed, ignored, told you are ridiculous/stupid.
Autopilot shame messages slam into you and hammer away at your fragile self.
The inner critic joins in the shouting.
Brené Brown describes shame in this way.
‘The intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.’ Brené Brown, I Thought It Was Just Me (but It Isn’t)
When you’ve been shouted at, you want to hear a whisper of hope.
You want to feel held, safely.
Instead, you may feel quite bruised and like a candle of life has been blown out.
Isaiah writes about the character of Jesus.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. Isaiah 42:3
It’s been my experience that God wants to gently heal the bruises and reignite the wick.
You’re not alone
Along with the thousands of others who daily endure barrages of shouting we have someone who was shouted at, had stones of abuse hurled at him, and then murdered.
He [Jesus] was beaten, he was tortured,
but he didn’t say a word. Isaiah 53:7
In the very fact we have someone both bigger than ourselves but also intimately and minutely acquainted with all of the pain, gives me hope.
Christ is the whisper of hope you need for your bruised reed and smoldering wick.
You can come to him when you have been shouted on. He knows it well and can hold and comfort while you restore.
Who you really are
In this place of a warm embrace, we discover we are not what the abuser in their moment of shouting vomit would have us believe.
We have dignity, worth, value, significance, beauty, purpose.
We are the apple of his eye.
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 17:8
He found him out in the wilderness,
in an empty, windswept wasteland.
He threw his arms around him,
lavished attention on him,
guarding him as the apple of his eye.
Deuteronomy 32:10 The Message
What’s the origin of the phrase ‘The apple of my eye’?
Originally it meant the central aperture of the eye. Figuratively it is something, or more usually someone, cherished above others. Read more.
How about personalizing yourself into this passage.
God found [insert your name]out in the wilderness,
in an empty, windswept wasteland.
God throws his arms around ______,
lavishs attention on ______,
guarding ______ as the apple of his eye.
Run or Reply
Out of this place of delightful focus and love you have some decisions to make.
Will I get out of this place of abuse (some times the best thing to do is to run especially if physical violence is happening) or shall I grow and stand in my new dignity and respond with a new awareness.
The writer of Proverbs says this
A gentle response defuses anger,
but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.
Proverbs 15:1 The Message (MSG)
I can’t 100% guarantee that in your gentleness you won’t experience a sharply tongued backlash, but you will feel secure in knowing you have done the right thing.
Years ago I learned a little acronym from David Riddell about how to form a good response.
Make your reply short. Don’t go on and on.
G – Gentle.
Speak in a tone appropriate to the situation. You don’t need to yell, and you don’t need to be meek and whisper. Look at them and speak gently.
Give your reply as soon as you can. Don’t leave it till later unless you need to prepare your reply. You don’t want this anger to go on and on.
Make sure your reply is specific to the issue. Don’t go on to past hurts and problems. Deal only with the issue that is current.
A good reply points out the consequences of what has happened and will happen. It is important to state how you feel about what happened.
“By you doing this, it triggered off feelings of … in me. I accept my feelings are my responsibility but how you respond to me is your responsibility”.
You may also need to point out what will happen if they do that again.
”I have decided that if you behave like that again, then I will …”
I would encourage you to write your response down. Then you will have something to refer to when emotional overload might be wanting to swamp you.
I would also advise that you get the support of someone else in writing this response and maybe even when you share this response. There is safety in numbers.
If you see a child
If you know of a child being abused, then please step in and be their voice. If it’s your husband or wife that’s doing the shouting, then front up and empower the child and yourself with B.G.E.S.C.
Quotes to consider
- A good rebuke is quiet, brief, specific and warns of the consequences of further faulty choices. A bad rebuke is loud, repeated, generally condemning and relies on emotional pressure to effect change. David Riddell
- Other peoples’ reaction to you might be telling you more about themselves, than about you. Don’t take it so personally. D. Riddell
- Shame scripts are what we say to ourselves about ourselves when we experience shame, and they can become embedded. Common scripts include: I don’t matter, I’m not smart enough, I’m not attractive enough, I’m not worthy of attention/connection/love. Even though shame scripts hurt us and our relationships, sometimes they become entrenched in our interactions, and we behave in ways that perpetuate and reinforce disconnection. Steve Call – reconnect: insights and tools for cultivating meaningful connection in your marriage
- Accepting responsibility for your own attitudes and choices is the first step to a healed life. D. Riddell
- Be honest with people for their sake, not just your own and remember; their response to you remains their responsibility. D. Riddell
Questions to answer
- What is the greatest challenge in facing up to a shouting bully?
- B.G.E.S.C. is a good acronym in handling a bully. Could you add anything to it?
- When is it best to run from the bully and when is it best to make a stand? Does anyone get this perfectly right?