Hurtful words

Violent and mean words may make you feel bad. Words can hurt.

Saying hurtful things is a way of bullying, scaring or putting someone down. So is yelling, screaming or threatening to hurt someone or do something mean to someone or to someone’s possessions or pets. These are ways that a person can abuse someone else – it’s called “emotional abuse”.

Emotional abuse can also be actions that are hurtful. It’s emotional abuse to:

  • stop someone from seeing or talking to friends or family without a good reason
  • make someone stay home all the time (this is different from being grounded for a few days)
  • ignore someone or pretend they are not there for days
  • destroying someone’s things or hurting their pets.

Emotional abuse is being mean without hitting. Words and the way someone says them can make you feel sad, angry, embarrassed, anxious, scared, helpless, alone. Emotional abuse is not a one-time thing. It can happen over and over. It continues even after you tell the person the words are hurting your feelings and ask them to stop.

Emotional abuse by a family member is family violence. Some forms of emotional abuse are crimes in Canada, such as threatening to harm or kill someone, and stalking somebody (following, telephoning, e-mailing, giving someone unwanted gifts or spying on a person in a way that scares that person).

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