Thursday, September 19, 2013

2 X 4

trigger warning: violence, the r word

He is standing in front of me, head wrapped in a bandage, blood peaking through the gauze. He is telling me, wanting me to really hear him, that he was hit in the head with a two by four while being called a retard. I almost, when writing this, changed what he said. I almost used 'the r word' ... but that's not what he said. He said 'retard.'

He tells me of being in fear.

He tells me how much it hurts when people assault him ... with two by fours, with words like retard.

He is there, incredibly, to give me encouragement. I am on break from a lecture I am giving on bullying and teasing. He walked up and waited, mannerly, for me to finish talking to someone else. Then, suddenly, he is in front of me. He is telling me about being hit. He is telling me about being wounded. He is telling me about being frightened. He is thanking me for telling the truth. He wants me to know how bad it can be.

I am shattered.

He leaves and I gear up for the second half of my talk. His voice rings in my head: they hit me with a two by four, they called me retard. He presented these two things as equally damaging, equally hurtful. He didn't separate one into violence and the other into simple name calling. They were the same.

He was struck.

By a two by four.

I see the blood in the bandage.

He was struck.

By a word.

I hear his voice, battered and bleeding, tell the story.

I finish the lecture. He comes and shakes my hand. I thank him for his encouragement. He thanks me for not being silent.

He doesn't understand the silence.

He doesn't understand why people don't speak up and speak out and say what needs to be said.

Hitting people with two by fours is wrong.

Hitting people with words that blister and burn and draw blood is wrong.

Those that say, "I didn't mean anything by it," "I was only joking," "It doesn't mean anything - are lying.


Because two by fours hurt.

And so do words.

My God.

When will we understand?


Just Heidi said...

It has been my experience that physical wounds from abuse do heal. Bruises fade into our flesh. Verbal abuse continues to sting, long after the words were spoken.

Once again Dave, Thank You so much for all that you do for bringing awareness to so many issues that affect our community.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Speechless. Thank you.

tekeal said...

speechless. breathless. scared. grateful. thank you.

Colleen said...

Scary! sitting here in front of my computer and I just don't know what else to say.


wendy said...


TMc said...

Ouch both body and soul are wounded. One is more visible than the other, both are (quality of) life threateneing.

Deb said...

This makes me cry.

People enjoy having the power to wound. From those who are themselves economically powerless to doctors and "social" workers to the highest levels of government, people like having the power to do violence to those who are unable to fight back.

We haven't evolved very far from prehensile toes and the law of the jungle. We just dress better.

Maggie said...


What a ghastly story.

I am so unreasonably delighted that nobody stopped him from attending your lecture. Nobody made him stay home 'because of his injury.'

I am so grateful that both of you could have this conversation.

Rickismom said...

Oh My G-d/
I feel like putting my fist through the desk.