By Ruth Cuevas
Marleen Williams from the Counseling and Career Center spoke at a lecture on abuse and its effects on people. The lecture was part of a series sponsored by Women”s Services and Resources at BYU.
Williams began her lecture with a quote by Robert Fulhum, who inspired the title of her lecture.
“Yelling at living things does tend to kill the spirit in them,” Williams said. “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words will break our hearts.”
The main reason for her lecture was to help students learn how to have better relationships with those they love, Williams said.
“I loved to read the story of Nephi,” Williams said. “Although he personally experienced considerable abuse from his brothers, he learned how to have loving relationships with others, and he also taught his people how to love one another so they could live after the manner of happiness.”
Just as Nephi”s people learned to love one another, Williams” hope is that students will do the same in their relationships.
“The wish that I have is that each of you will live after the manner of happiness,” Williams said.
Williams stressed that a constant lack of validation by a loved one can lead to insecurities and a loss of one”s self without the person even realizing it is happening. This she believes is due to the media and its messages.
“I think often people don”t recognize abusive behavior,” Williams said. “We see it so much in the media that we come to accept it as normal. But it does hurt people, and it does hurt relationships.”
Although many believe that most abuse comes from men, studies show that verbal abuse can occur with either gender.
Williams believes that abuse can be avoided by talking about it.
“We often think of abuse as male perpetrators and female victims,” Williams said. “But women can also be verbally and emotionally abusive.”
Williams suggested that in an unhealthy marital relationship, the person at fault should be allowed to repent.
“Marriage is a tool to refine us,” Williams said. “It is a tool to prepare us for the celestial kingdom”
Although some marriages have difficulties, she suggested that they are not lost marriages, and emphasized that even healthy marriages struggle at times.
“Sometimes even good marriages encounter difficulties,” Williams said. “It is a process to learn how to love and care for another. When couples do experience problems often their first conclusion is, that they must have married the wrong person.”
“But with help and a willingness to work on the problem, couples can learn to change behaviors and attitudes and learn new skills that can help them have the kind of marriage that they want,” she said.
She accounts most abuse in society is because of a lack of knowledge and skill on the part of those who are the perpetrators.
“Because we see so much of this as commonplace in our culture sometimes people grow up learning that that”s just how people interact,” Williams said. “They may not have learned the skills of having more loving and caring relationships that are not based on abuse, so they may not know the difference.”