VERBAL AND EMOTIONAL ABUSE

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Victory Over Verbal & Emotional Abuse

Words that Tear Down One's Character 

You know, just like a skilled lumberjack chops at a tree with repeated swings from an axe, verbal abusers use their tongues like a sharp weapon, hacking away at the spirit of another person. Chances are, you’ve experienced this kind of abuse at some point in your life.

We often need help with this. We need someone who has either been down this road, or someone who knows how to counsel us through this situation… to help us come out on the other side with a healed heart, a whole heart. This is where you come in. You see, this resource is made for two types of people, those who are hurting and those who can help them! As you use our Women of Faith resources you can become God’s instrument to share Biblical hope and practical help with those who are hurting. With these tools, you can help change minds, change hearts and change lives.

You don’t have to be a seminary graduate or work in a church; you just need a heart for God and for others! Remember the words of 2 Corinthians chapter 1, “The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”

 

What Is Emotional Abuse?

It’s usually hidden, often occurring behind closed doors. It can look like bullying, mocking, insulting, yelling, or threatening another person. It can also be seen as neglecting, deceiving, manipulating, or rejecting someone. It’s abuse. And no matter what form it takes, verbal and emotional abuse can leave wounds that last a lifetime. Whether you’ve been hurt by abuse or have yourself hurt others, God can heal and restore you to be the person He created you to be. In these Women of Faith resources, learn how to heal from past pain, establish boundaries in your relationships, and find victory over verbal and emotional abuse.

“You’re worthless!” 

“You’ll never amount to anything!”

“I wish you had never been born!”

Words like these in childhood can wound the heart for a lifetime. And further wounding takes place in adulthood when “control” is the name of the game. Threats like … “If you leave me, I’ll hurt the children!” or “I’ve taken the keys—you’re not going anywhere!”… are both emotionally and verbally abusive and are ways of maintaining control in relationships.

Emotional abuse is the unseen fallout of all other forms of abuse: physical, mental, verbal, sexual, and even spiritual abuse. People often minimize the importance of emotions. Yet with deeply wounded people, feelings can be the driving force behind their choices. At that point, for those people, their emotions become the life-sustaining element of their very beings. Emotional abuse strikes at the very core of who we are … crushing our confidence … wearing away our sense of worth.

Abuse can be perpetrated without a word − whether with degrading looks, obscene gestures or threatening behaviors. These actions inflict immense pain and impede emotional growth. You don’t have to allow an abuser to make you feel worthless. Jesus says that God knows not only each and every sparrow, but He also knows you intimately and gives you worth.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6–7

Emotional abuse is the unseen fallout of all other forms of abuse: physical, mental, verbal, sexual, and even spiritual abuse. People often minimize the importance of emotions. 

Yet with deeply wounded people, their feelings can be the driving force behind their choices … the life-sustaining element of their very beings. Emotional abuse strikes at the very core of who we are … crushing our confidence … wearing away our sense of worth … crushing our spirit. 

The Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”  Proverbs 17:22 

  • Emotional abuse is any ongoing, negative behavior used to control or hurt another person. 
  • Emotional abuse ranges from consistent indifference to continual belittling of character.
    •  All forms of abuse—emotional, verbal, mental, physical, spiritual, and sexual—damage a person’s sense of dignity and God-given worth. 
    • All forms of abuse wound the spirit and, therefore, are emotionally damaging. 
  • Emotional abuse or “psychological mistreatment” scars the spirit of the one abused.

Proverbs, the book of wisdom, poses this probing question.  “... a crushed spirit who can bear?”  (Proverbs 18:14) 

What Is Verbal Abuse? 

  • Verbal abuse is the systematic, ongoing use of harmful words or sharp tones in an attempt to control or dominate another person.
    • Abuse is mistreatment: the destructive misuse of something or someone. 
    • Verbal abuse is always harmful. 
  • Those who practice it may, sometimes unconsciously, delight in its power to destroy. 

“You love every harmful word, you deceitful tongue!” 

(Psalm 52:4) 

Verbal abuse injures the feelings of others with reviling, insulting, or contemptuous words.

“I live in disgrace all day long, and my face is covered with shame at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me, because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.”

(Psalm 44:15–16)

 

The Cost of Ongoing Abuse 

  • Loss of self-worth: Increased self-doubt 
  • Loss of self-confidence: Increased self-consciousness 
  • Loss of self-perception: Increased self-criticism 
  • Loss of happiness: Increased emotional flatness 
  • Loss of freedom: Increased vigilance 
  • Loss of self-assurance: Increased insecurity 
  • Loss of security: Increased desire to escape 
  • Loss of trust: Increased distrust 
  • Loss of sexual identity: Increased sexual confusion 
  • Loss of a clear conscience: Increased guilt or shame 
  • Loss of friendship: Increased isolation 
  • Loss of faith: Increased fear 
  • Loss of safety: Increased sense of danger 
  • Loss of self-respect: Increased self-destruction 
  • Loss of optimism: Increased pessimism 
  • Loss of pride: Increased self-hatred 
  • Loss of hope: Increased despair 
  • Loss of inner peace: Increased “peace-at-all-costs” behavior 

“Those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” 

(Romans 8:29) 

How to Change the Course of an Abusive Relationship 

After Determining Your Plan of Action... 

  1. State clearly, in a conversation or letter, what you are willing to accept and not accept from the abuser. 

“The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered” 

(Proverbs 17:27). 

2. Announce the consequence you will enforce if the abuser violates your requests. 

“A man reaps what he sows” 

(Galatians 6:7). 

3. Enforce the consequence every single time abuse occurs. 

“Let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no” 

(James 5:12). 

4. Hold your ground and absolutely do not negotiate. 

“Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues” 

(Proverbs 10:19). 

5. Respond when your boundary is violated—never react on “gut” emotion or out of anger. 

“The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools” 

(Ecclesiastes 7:8–9). 

6. Solicit the support of one or two wise, objective people to help you through this process.

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise”

(Proverbs 19:20).

7. Expect manipulative maneuvers and emotional ups and downs.

“The tongue of the wise brings healing”

(Proverbs 12:18)

How to Recover from Abuse 

  • “I recognize that I am powerless to heal my damaged emotions resulting from abuse, and I look to God for the power to make me whole.” 
  • “I acknowledge that God’s plan for my life includes victory over my experiences of abuse.” 
  • “The person who abused me is responsible for the acts committed against me and for the words spoken to me. I will not accept the guilt and the shame resulting from those acts or words.”
  •  “I am looking to God and His Word to find my identity as a worthwhile and loved human being.”
  • “I am honestly sharing my feelings with God and with at least one other person as I try to identify those areas needing cleansing and healing.” 
  • “I am accepting responsibility for my responses to being abused.” 
  • “I am willing to accept God’s help in making the decision to forgive myself and those who have offended me. I will trust Him in the process of doing so.” 
  • “I am willing to mature in my relationship with God and with others.” 
  • “I am willing to be used by God as an instrument of His healing and restoration in the lives of others.” 

By faith, claim the words of the psalmist. ...

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

(Psalm 30:11–12)

 

How to Break Free from Being Abusive 

  1. Discover your trigger points. 

“Get wisdom, get understanding ...” 

(Proverbs 4:5). 

2. Be aware of your early family background. 

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me”

 (1 Corinthians 13:11). 

3. Restrain angry thoughts and actions. 

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil” 

(Psalm 37:8). 

4. Choose the right time and the right way to express your feelings. 

“An angry person stirs up conflict, and a hot-tempered person commits many sins” 

(Proverbs 29:22). 

5. Begin absorbing truth. 

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). 

6. Come to Christ, seeking His help with a sincere heart. 

“To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” 

(John 1:12).

 

Key Verse to Learn

“Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

(Romans 13:10)

 

Key Passage to Read

Matthew 12:34–37

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God desires to give you hope as you face life challenges, problems and difficult trials. The good news for us, God specializes in redemption and transformation. He takes that which was lost and restores it. He takes that which was dead and gives it life. He takes that which had no hope and rewrites its story. This is our God! As you pray today, ask God boldly to transform the thing inside you that you want to see changed forever!

Thank you for your interest and support in Women of Faith. We pray God will encourage, equip, and empower you with His life-changing truth.

 

RELATED TOPICS

Abuse Recovery

A Spirit of Strength

Alcohol & Drug Abuse

Anger

Bullying

Forgiveness

Manipulation

 

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