How do you deal with the situation, where you feel that verbal abuse is being thrown at you within your marriage? And how do you know if this isn’t just a “normal” matter of one spouse disagreeing with the other? Plus, there is also the matter of emotional abuse. There’s no doubt that both of these are destructive for you and your marriage relationship.
One thing we do here at Marriage Missions is to hunt for information that will best help spouses to understand the different aspects of marriage. This way each marital situation can be approached prayerfully, carefully, and better educated. The goal is to be led by our Wonderful Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to do what He shows is best.
Clarification Concerning Verbal Abuse And Emotional Abuse
With that in mind, we want to first deal with the topic of emotional abuse. It’s important to clarify what it is and what can be done about it. And then we’ll go on to the topic of verbal abuse. You can have one directed at you without the other, and yet, they often overlap.
First of all, we encourage you to pray before reading —that the eyes of your heart and mind will humbly be open to comprehend what God wants for you to know.
“Good and upright is the LORD.
Therefore He instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them His way.”
Secondly, it’s important to recognize emotional abuse for what it is. Dr Barbara Shaffer asks the questions:
“Can you identify a symptom of emotional abuse? More importantly can you define emotional abuse or identify any of its forms?”
To obtain some answers, please click onto the link below to read:
More on Emotional Abuse
Next, it’s important to know even more about this type of abuse. Counselor, and author Leslie Vernick explains much more about emotional abuse in her book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope. (You can obtain it in the link provided in the title.) In the meantime, below is a video where Leslie explains some important things for you to know:
And that takes us to the issue of verbal abuse. Most often it overlaps with emotional abuse. But here’s a little peak into the way relationship expert, Leslie Vernick, explains it:
“Cursing someone out is bigger than just using four-letter words. Cursing someone is condemning him or her as if you’re their judge or even their god. When someone does that he (or she) believes they’re the superior one; and as such have the right to cast “judgment” on another’s character, personhood, or even actions in a demeaning or derogatory way. The Bible speaks to this kind of person. Jesus says, ‘If you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” (Matthew 5:22).
First, Concerning Verbal Abuse:
“It’s helpful to make a distinction between an abusive incident and an abusive relationship. Since we are all sinners, we are all capable of some verbal abuse. (James 3:2). James also cautions believers that our tongue can be misused as a weapon to hurt other people. (Yes, the Bible speaks of emotional and verbal abuse). James describes it this way. He says the tongue is ‘restless and evil full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father; and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!‘ (James 3:8-10). He also warns that if we ‘claim to be a believer and don’t control our tongue, we are lying to ourselves and to others‘ (James 1:26).
“Therefore, when someone who claims to be a Christian sins and verbally curses someone out, or just says something hurtful, he or she should immediately recognize that he has crossed a line and used his tongue as a weapon for harm. James clearly says this is not right. As does Paul in Romans 13:10 when he says, ‘Love does no harm.‘
“Once that line has been crossed, a sincere apology should be given; repentance before the Lord should occur and a strong effort to never repeat that kind of abusive speech should be made. However, when abusive behavior/speech happens again and again and again, then it’s not just simply crossing the line and being a sinner. It is being an unrepentant sinner who refuses to submit himself under the authority of God.” (From Leslie’s article, “Emotional and Verbal Abuse”)
Verbal Abuse: Intimidation and Bullying
So, what do you do when there is verbal abuse, intimidation, and bullying in your marriage? And what exactly IS bullying? Dr Juli Slattery says the following:
“Intentionally or not, a bully uses intimidation and coercion to get his or her way. Yes, women can be bullies too. A wife can skillfully use emotional coercion like humiliation and cynicism. She does this to ‘punish’ a husband who isn’t ‘behaving’ according to her desires. I’ve met powerful, competent men who panic at the thought of crossing their wives. Is this normal conflict or bullying?”
That’s an important question to consider. To help you with this issue, Dr Slattery recommends reading the following books. We also recommend them:
As far as emotional abuse (including bullying), author Mary Yerkes describes it this way:
“Emotional abuse leaves few physical scars. Its victims suffer no broken bones, torn flesh or spilled blood. Still, those wounded might describe it as the most painful and destructive form of domestic violence.”
Additional Information to Help You
To discover what Mary lived through and learned about this form of abuse, we direct you to a posted article for Focus on the Family. After reading the article, also read the additional articles they suggest in the series. We believe they will help you gain a fuller picture of this type of abuse:
Christian counselor, Dr Barbara Shaffer writes the following concerning emotional abuse. (It comes from the article, “Emotional Abuse: The Abuse Beneath Abuse.”)
Dr Shaffer writes:
“Abuse in the context of an intimate relationship involves a persistent pattern of behaviors. It is not simply a mistake. Nor is it an isolated incident or a sudden loss of control. The goal that motivates all forms of abuse is to exercise power and to control…
“Physical abuse can leave bruises, and break bones. It can cause various permanent, structurally based impairments, like hearing and memory loss. These observable signs of impact signal the need for healing, assistance, protection, and safety. In contrast, emotional abuse is characterized by invisibility and great subtlety. It leaves no obvious mark that would call attention to injury, danger or the need for intervention. Although abuse comes in varied shapes, intensities, and every forms, it has an emotional component.
Definition: What exactly is emotional abuse?
“Emotional abuse is foundationally an attitude of entitlement and profound disrespect. It discounts at every turn the inherent right of the other person to dignity, separateness and autonomy. The other person is seen as only a contemptible object. Out of entitlement and disrespect spring the various behaviors that use anger, violence and/or contempt to induce fear, guilt and shame. The other person is thereby controlled, punished, or demeaned.”
Additionally, here’s something Kerby Anderson points out that is important to note:
Verbal Abuse Doesn’t Leave Evidence
“Almost everyone knows of, someone who has been verbally abused. Perhaps you are involved in a verbally abusive relationship. It is also possible that no one even knows your circumstances. Verbal abuse is a kind of battering. It doesn’t leave evidence comparable to the bruises of physical battering. You (or your friend) may be suffering in silence and isolation. In this article, tackle this very important issue in an effort to understand this phenomenon and provide answers.”
To learn what Kerby Anderson goes on to explain, read this Probe Ministries article:
“Harsh words can destroy your marriage. Here’s how to defuse verbal abuse.”
Dealing with Verbal Abuse
If you do want to know how to deal with and defuse verbal abuse we recommend that you prayerfully read the following articles. We need to tell you that they are not Christian articles per se. But they are very good ones. So, if you read something within them that you feel God would object to, please disregard that particular piece of advice. But overall, most of the advice can be very valuable. As you will see, one article will lead to links to others to read. Please read all you can. It’s important to glean through what you read to decide what will work for you in your marriage.
The articles we recommend you read are:
Also, the ministry of All About Life Challenges can help you to better recognize verbal abuse. They also show you ways to avoid depression and find hope. This is important when you feel beaten up verbally. To learn more, please read:
Lastly, the following scripture is something you may find helpful to pray:
“Guard my life and rescue me.
Let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.
“May integrity and uprightness
because my hope is in you.”
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International compiled this article.
If you have additional tips to help others, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.
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Filed under: Abuse in Marriage