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by Abigail Van Buren

Cruel Words Aimed at Kids Cut Deep and Heal Slow

DEAR ABBY: It was easy for me to rewrite "Words of Love?" by Danny Comstock, in order to describe what many young people hear when they're growing up. I speak from experience. Please print it so other unhappy kids out there will know they're not alone. Please do not identify me, Abby. Just sign me ... SURVIVOR IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR SURVIVOR: Verbal abuse is toxic and cumulative. The scars left by ugly words can take far longer to heal than those from physical abuse. The victims may become successful adults, but underneath, the wounds remain. Read on:

WORDS OF LOVE?

You're neurotic! You're immature!

You're skinny! You're ugly!

You're nothing but a slob!

Do your schoolwork! Clean your room!

Clean the house! Take care of the baby!

Can't you do anything right?

You don't have any skills!

You will never get a job!

You're lazy! You're selfish! You're spoiled!

No wonder you don't have any friends!

You embarrass me, but I'm willing to put up with you --

Because no one else will tolerate you!

You need me to take care of you --

You wouldn't last two seconds on your own!

The only reason I berate and criticize you

Is because I'm trying to build your character

And make you a better person!

If I didn't, I wouldn't love you!