When Anger Becomes Abuse

punch-316605_640If a person gives place to anger and goes with it wherever it takes them, and if they say and do whatever feels good at the moment as they release that anger toward their spouse, it is abuse. There is a difference between simply getting angry about something, and letting anger become a weapon that crushes a person’s heart, beats down their spirit, or hurts their physical body.

Someone who will allow their anger to go that far has a mental and emotional disorder and needs professional help. In order to be free of that kind of anger disorder and the abuse that comes as a result of it, they also need the power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse their heart and deliver them from this selfish work of the flesh.

Abusive people love their anger to the point of actually looking for ways to be angry. Anger empowers them and fuels the fire they love to fan into flame. It gives them what they perceive as control. But actually, anger illustrates their utter lack of control. Lashing out and yelling at someone God has given you to love is sin. Abuse is sin.

Any words spoken in explosive anger can be abusive. A loudly raised voice and poor choice of words can cut like a knife into a person’s soul. Angry outbursts are loveless and full of the desire to hurt. The verbal abuser doesn’t try to see it from the perspective of the person they are abusing. They don’t care to know how badly their anger makes the recipient of their anger feel because all they care about is how they feel themselves. If there have been times when your spouse’s angry outbursts have killed something in you, that’s abuse. Or if there are times when your own angry words have destroyed something in your spouse or your children, that is abuse. Abuse destroys lives.

You are in a battle for your marriage, but the battle is not with your spouse. If he [she] is the one firing the shots at you and you are being forced to defend or protect yourself, give the situation your best shot in prayer. Ask God to deliver your husband [wife] from the evil spirit troubling him [her] (1 Samuel 16:14-23). Ask God to give you the ability to stay calm in the midst of the battle. Ask Him to help you to resist striking back.

All that being said, I am definitely not saying to stop defending or protecting yourself if you are in harm’s way. I’m not telling any spouse to stay in her [or his] marriage if mental or physical health is in danger, and especially not if her [or his] life is being threatened in any way whatsoever. Abuse of any kind goes against all that God is and all that He has for you. No one is required to take it. If you are afraid of what your spouse might do to harm you or your children, make plans to get free. Find a place to go and people to help you move out. I have known of too many people who waited too long and suffered devastating consequences. Don’t be one of those statistics.

If your spouse is physically abusing you, call a domestic violence hotline. You will usually find it listed under “Community Services” or “Emergency Services” at the beginning of your phone book. They understand the situation and can help you make the right decisions as to what to do about it. If you need to leave home for your own safety or the safety of your children, they will help you do that. Even if you don’t end up leaving, it is good to have a plan. You need a safe place to go, a way to get there, someone to help, money you can have access to, and the legal papers and possessions you need to take with you.

Physical abuse doesn’t go away on its own. It only gets worse. If you don’t want to help yourself, then think about helping your spouse by leaving and not returning until he [or she] gets help and is cured. Being destroyed by someone who has an emotional disorder such as uncontrolled anger is not the kind of self-sacrifice or martyrdom God is looking for. Don’t enable your spouse to suffer the consequences of his [or her] own sin of abuse. Help him [or her] get the healing needed to become a whole person.

There is no excuse for abuse. It is never justified. A spouse who physically or emotionally abuses his [or her] marital partner is emotionally sick and has a serious problem. Of all emotional disorders, anger can be by far the most destructive. It is more destructive than depression, anxiety, or fear because it is usually directed at the spouse in some abusive and destructive way. Don’t fool around with this; it’s too dangerous. He [she] needs professional help and fast.

A man who beats his wife and children in any way should be removed from them completely [the same can be said of a wife who beats her husband and children]. Even if the abuse is only verbal, it is still extremely damaging. Scars happen internally as well as externally. Anger and abuse is the problem of the person who has it and not the fault of the one abused. No possible action or words of yours deserve violent, angry outbursts. Do not blame yourself.

…Prayer for Breakthrough in My Husband [Wife]

LORD, I DON’T WANT TO ever feel that “my soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace” (Psalm 120:6). Deliver me from anger in my husband [wife]. Your Word says, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). Where I have ever felt that an angry spirit in my husband [wife] has hurt me or broken my spirit, I pray You would heal those wounds and take away any unforgiveness I have because of it.

I pray You would set my husband [wife] free from anger. Help him [or her] to recognize a spirit of anger rising up in him [her] and reject it completely. Strengthen him [her] to be able to control his [her] mind and emotions and help him [her] to remember that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers,” and the rulers of darkness and wickedness (Ephesians 6:12).

Teach him [or her] to be slow to anger the way You are (James 1:1). Help him (her) to understand that anger never produces spiritual fruit (James 1:20). I pray that all anger in my husband [wife] will be evaporated by the power of the Holy Spirit, and that he [or she] will have a strong desire to reject his [her] carnal side and become spiritually minded. Let there be no reason to fear his [or her] anger and what my spouse might do. Help me trust that “I will both lie down in peace and sleep; for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:8).

I pray now that You, the God of all hope, will fill my spouse with faith and hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). I pray You would lift up Your countenance upon him [her] and give him [her] Your peace (Numbers 6:26). I pray You would lift up Your countenance upon him (her) and give him (her) Your peace (Numbers 6:26). I pray You would direct his [her] heart “into the love of God and into the patience of Christ” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). Help him [or her] to flee anger and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love patience, and gentleness (1 Timothy 6:11). In Jesus’ name I pray.

This article comes from the excellent book, Praying Through the Deeper Issues of Marriage: Protecting Your Relationship So It Will Last a Lifetime by Stormie Omartian, published by Harvest House Publishers. There are a lot more thoughts that comes from the chapter on “If Forgiveness Doesn’t Come Easy” that you may find helpful in reading.

In addition, you will find that there are other helpful chapters you can read on anger, rudeness, abuse, communication break downs, depression, negative emotions, having children dominate your marriage, addictions and other destructive behaviors, outside influences on your sexual relationship, hardness of heart, distance in your relationship, the “D” word, infidelity, if one decides to leave home, lost hope, and more. Each chapter also has Scripture Truths to Stand on as well as Prayers for Protection on those particular subjects and Prayer Breakthroughs for you and also for your spouse. This is an excellent book that we highly recommend!

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88 responses to “When Anger Becomes Abuse

  1. I am having a hard time praying for this deliverance. I am wondering if God wants me to stay in such a marriage where my husband alternates between angry words and then apologies. My adult son who is now 30 has learned the same and also treats me disrespectfully with many anger issues of his own. I have been afraid to leave but am wondering if or how God will help me to find the best answer.

    1. 1 Corinthians 1:27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God had chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;

      Addressing the anger in another involves addressing the hurt inside ones self. I have concluded that unexplainable anger is spiritual. It’s an attack from Satan on the mind. Pray to yourself SILENTLY: In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Satan be gone. Your influence of anger is not welcome here.

      SILENTLY praying is the key. Provoking in the name of the Lord is wrong and sinful.

      Rage, wrath, fear tactics… All of it is from Satan.

      Another verse that should be memorized and said to ones self is:

      Ephesians 6:12-13 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual host of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God that you maybe able to with stand in the evil day and having done all to stand.

  2. My husband has ADHD, and has had anger problems since we started a relationship. He is not on medication. He can blow up at little things. It is a challenge to live with. At the beginning of our relationship I went through having a lot of verbal abuse at me, banging things, threats; I was scared. I stuck it out because I could see its roots (his Father was an abusive alcoholic) and also I did not have the confidence to leave (my parents had recently separated after it came out my Dad had an affair for 16 years).

    I’ve stuck at the relationship for over 5 years; we have a 4 year old son. I have no close friends, my Mum lives abroad and the rest of my family aren’t close. I am on my own most days looking after our son. I feel isolated, under pressure, and always uncertain of whether my husband will be in an okay mood or not when he gets home. I’ve gone through my worst year, where I became angry all the time, feeling abandoned by people. That has passed, but I felt guilty for scars left, especially on our son.

    We became Christians and we’re baptised last year; this has helped a lot, although a battle leading up to it. I feel stronger, but there is a wedge between me and my husband still. I’ve asked if he would consider starting Adhd medication to see if it would help, but he seems to be putting it off. I keep faith and hope, but most days I just feel tired. I miss my Mum who he had a falling out with. He seems to fall out with people easily. He doesn’t work but still goes out all day and I get left to look after our son every day, please pray something changes. I just need to feel some close human support and not alone everyday.

  3. My Fiancé constantly says horrible things to me when he is angry, things that other ears must not listen to. I have consistently bore this with love. Well, I may have reacted sometimes but in the end we apologise to each other and just move on.

    But this is becoming the order of the day. In the bid to communicate effectively, be open to one another without fear or shame, I shared some things with him. Unfortunately, those are the things he uses now as weapon of warfare when he is angry with me. I am not perfect, I have no guarantee of not upsetting him once in a while.

    We are due to get married in few months. But, I am so scared. He has apologized again, and members of extended families have tried to placate me on this matter. Is this enough reason to break the relationship? I need help, please.

    1. Oh yes, Precious, this is more than enough to break the relationship. If you are scared at this point, when you are both on your best behavior, just wait until the newness of the relationship wears off, which it will. DON’T marry until you both are able to resolve conflicts in mature, giving ways. Of course, you are not perfect, and of course, you will upset him sometimes. That is normal. What isn’t normal is for him to act out his anger at you to such a degree that you are scared of him. Truly, you haven’t seen anything yet.

      At the very least, delay the wedding. There is no shame in delaying saying, we still have some things to work out now before moving on to marrying. You need to see that he is going to act like a marriage partner to you –giving and taking… not just taking when he is angry. We have a lot of articles posted on this web site, which can teach you both how to resolve conflict in healthy ways. I know this is not something that many men in your culture do, but truly, if he would not do this much, what will he do to work with you to bridge your differences rather than lash out? And please don’t let extended family try to convince you otherwise. They are not marrying this man. They will not have to take the abusive anger that he will lash out at you.

      Be strong enough to take a stand here, or I’m afraid you will be very, very sorry otherwise, We get emails all the time and comments posted on this web site that they wish they would have listened to their doubts and waited (eventually not getting married after seeing more of what they are now experiencing) because if they would have, they would not be in the horrible situation they are in. Please listen to the inner instincts that God is giving you and the Holy Spirit is using to warn you. I hope you will pray and listen to God on this –not other people.

  4. Thankyou for this, I am scared at home right at this moment and it really is comforting to read this. Thankyou, so, so much.

  5. I’m a pastor’s wife and don’t feel safe in my own home. I no longer care for my marriage and neither does he. I’m tired of the threats and just want to get it over with; if I’m beaten I will rise again. I can’t plan an exit since I live in my parents home. I’m afraid he will ruin their home. Just prayers are needed.

    1. Elena, God keeps putting you on my heart to pray for you and also to respond to your plea. Please know that He sees your tears and is touched. You are very loved, even though you have not sensed that for a long time. I’m so sorry that your husband doesn’t realize the blessings he has in his marriage to you –that you could be such a great partner if he will only accept and embrace you. May his eyes be opened, even though he is resistant.

      Honestly, even though it is my heart to help you, there isn’t too much more I can do, other than pray for you (which truly IS a big thing), but also to encourage you to read through the things the Lord shows you, that are posted on our web site –to glean and use what you can. Also, because you are a pastor’s wife, there is an extra dose of help available to you. Please go to the following topic we make available on this web site: http://marriagemissions.com/category/pastors-and-spouses/. Read what God shows you to read, praying that He will speak hope and show you what you need to do this day and one step at a time, as you read. Especially go into the Links part of that topic. There are many ministries that are available that can give you good counsel. Remember that the Bible tells us that “in the abundance of counsel, there is victory.” Avail yourself of what you can. I’m especially thinking of the ministry of The Thriving Pastor. Don’t let the name throw you off. They have a great outreach to Pastor’s wives, such as yourself.

      I pray a blessing upon you… “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 15:13) “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy.” (Colossians 1:11) I stand with you believing that God will help you and your son in the ways you most need them. I also pray God infuses hope into your heart that you will eventually experience better days –ones that will bring a smile to your heart.

  6. Thank you for this amazing article on anger and emotional abuse. I am now in the process of strategically planning to leave my husband of 12.5 years because of the verbal and emotional abuse. In the beginning of our marriage yes there were signs, but because of my tough skin I never associated it with abuse. Every disagreement he express anger and verbal abuse follows. We never resolved any issues; I’ve been to so many counseling sessions, at my church and was told that he must make an effort as well in order for the marriage to work. I beat myself up trying to find a solution to strengthen our marriage.

    After crying out to The Lord asking for revelation. Like they say be ready when pray. I found prescriptions for anxiety and serious depression in his file folder. Then I found medical forms about leave of absence from insurance company and doctors who diagnosed him with severe depression, flat affect. My husband is unemployed now for over one year, he is degreed and quit his last job he prayed for because he said they were going to fire him. When he gets angry he holds grudges. 2-3 weeks can go by and then he will seek revenge. While you’re totally oblivious he will get you. He has cut his wedding ring in half and left on the bed for me to see. Threw away a lot of my stuff, I’m so confused even when I can’t find something I think he threw it away, even if he didn’t.

    We are so blessed financially; bills are being paid on time. We both have excellent credit, legitimate debt. So his last anger outburst he put our home in the market for sale. Yes, I agreed walking in total faith that if God opens a pathway for me to walk through I have on my running gear. I’m totally prepared to leave, and have no plans on divorcing my husband but I must work on my wounded spirit trusting The Lord to heal the both of us. Psalms 34:18 The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Amen

  7. I’m not a quitter but have endured 33 years of lies, betrayal and dishonor; blaming me for his sins. He cheated and drinks heavily. Please pray for our marriage; we have 3 months left before divorce. We are both getting near retirement and please take my worries and please pray we return to a healthy living marriage.