Heart Piercing Wounds

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 19-20 NIV

All of us have from time to time said things that we later regret. Emotions run high and anger comes to the surface. There are, though, individuals who consistently remain in a pattern of behavior using words to destroy others out of a sense of entitlement, superiority, and power. In James 3:6 we find, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”

These abusive people can even profess to be “Christians” using this mask to cover up what is really in their heart. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness.  Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” James 3:9-10 NIV

When confronted with a verbally abusive person, we have a tendency to explain or defend ourselves over and over again hoping to prove that their statements are false. This only gives the abusive person more ammunition to use against the victim.

In Patricia Evans’ book, The Verbally Abusive Relationships,  she states, “If you are encountering abuse and feel that if you could explain things, he’d understand, remember this: If someone started throwing rocks through your windows, you would be more inclined to tell him to stop than you would be to explain to him why he shouldn’t throw rocks. Verbal abuse is like a rock thrown through your window.” Verbal abuse shatters the window (our spirit) of our heart into pieces. Eventually we will no longer know who we are.

Therefore it is critical to identify the categories of verbal abuse.

  • Name Calling—The abuser uses derogatory names.
  • Abusive Anger—The abuser exhibits sudden outburst of anger which are usually irrational and unexpected.
  • Threatening—The abuser knows the victim’s greatest fears and uses these to intimidate and keep control.
  • Withholding—The abuser refuses to acknowledge the victim’s thoughts and feelings while remaining aloof, silent, and emotionally distant.
  • Countering—The abuser refutes the victims perceptions, thoughts, opinions, feelings, and life experiences usually stating the opposite viewpoint. This causes the victim to not trust her own perceptions.
  • Discounting—The abuser invalidates denies, and distorts the victim’s perceptions, feelings and thoughts stating; You’re too sensitive. You make a big deal out of everything..
  • Blocking and Diverting—The abuser either refuses to communicate or controls what is to be discussed. Sometimes information is withheld or the topic of discussion is suddenly switched to a new topic other than the original. This puts the victim into a position of defending herself. You’re such a nag. You’re always trying to start something. These are common statements used to block or divert.
  • Accusing and Blaming—The abuser blames the victim for his anger and problems. He accuses the victim of doing something wrong.
  • Judging and Criticizing—The abuser consistently judges, criticizes, and negates the victim’s feelings, thoughts, opinions, and actions.
  • Trivializing—The abuser considers the accomplishments, talents, abilities, and statements as insignificant.
  • Undermining—The abuser undermines the victim’s decisions especially parental decision regarding rules and consequences given to children.
  • Ordering—The abuser demands instead of asking politely.
  • Denial—The abuser denies that he is abusive by saying statements like: I never said that. That never happened.
  • Forgetting—The abuser denies he said or did something even if it happened recently.

Responding to verbal abuse in appropriate ways is a difficult task. Our tendency is to become defensive and angry ourselves. This only adds fuel to the fire. Setting boundaries such as telling the abuser to stop, walking away or becoming emotionally distant are appropriate responses for a victim who remains in the relationship.

Paula Silva © 2009 FOCUS Ministries, Inc. www.focusministries1.org

7 comments on “Heart Piercing Wounds
  1. Kerri says:

    These words couldn’t be more true. I needed to hear these words today. I am struggling to survive in a verbally and emotionally abusive home. I often feel like I am going crazy and that I am the one with the problem.

    Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Paula says:

    In verbally and emotionally abusive relationships, there can be confusion and chaos. The person’s world consists of a roller coaster of ups and downs mixed with distrust of one’s own perceptions. The crazy making keeps the victim off balance which makes it easier for the abuser to keep control and have power over. It is critical to have outside support and individuals that understand that can keep the victim in reality and give them the tools to set boundaries. We are here to help. We have walked that journey. There is hope and healing. God cares about you and so do we. Please feel free to contact us at [email protected].

    Paula

  3. Ronda says:

    I was in a very abusive marriage for three years and got out of it. I have been remarried for nearly four. My husband now teaches Sunday school and claims to be a Godly Christian man. He is emotionally and verbally abusive. He has threatened to divorce me over and over to get his way. I finally put my foot down and told him he will not do that anymore. He ended up showing anger at me in a bible study we were in. Last night he.apologize to me in front of everyone confessing he is abusive. I would love to believe him, but part of me wonders if it.was for show? He has confessed to me at home that he is abusive, yet will turn right.around and talk down to me. He says he has anger issues and he is a recovering alcoholic six years. He also has a bad heart seems like everytime things go.wrong his warning me he might.have another heart attack. I don’t know I just don’t trust what he says

  4. Paula says:

    Your husband’s apology does not match up with a change in behavior. He had to save face since his anger came out in public. Mentioning that he could have a heart attack is a control mechanism to keep you from standing up to him. There is no evidence that you can trust him. I would suggest reading our article, Repentance…Change…Reconciliation, found under our Resources on our website. This is the link to the article. http://www.focusministries1.org/articles/RepentanceChangeReconciliation.pdf.

    If you don’t stand up for what is right, you enable his behavior to continue.

  5. Paula says:

    Your husband’s apology does not match up with a change in behavior. He had to save face since his anger came out in public. Mentioning that he could have a heart attack is a control mechanism to keep you from standing up to him. There is no evidence that you can trust him. I would suggest reading our article, Repentance…Change…Reconciliation, found under our Resources on our website. This is the link to the article. http://www.focusministries1.org/articles/RepentanceChangeReconciliation.pdf.

    If you don’t stand up for what is right, you enable his behavior to continue.

  6. Teri says:

    I wrote this yesterday
    My Pain

    You will never see a bruise on me, but I can assure you the scars run deep.

    You take my not answering the phone or returning your call to mean I am rude or unfriendly but really I know if I was to even say hi, the tears would flow and may never stop.

    I ask myself every day, what did I do? What can I do to fix this?

    Oh you will never know the heartache and humiliation, because he is good at controlling himself around others.

    He can act like he loves me and maybe in someway he does, but his love doesn’t bring security or contentment, only confusion.

    He can be loving one minute and the moment I let my guard down and start to relax, watch out. Something I said, something I did, the way I talk, the way I dress, the way I look, something will set him off.

    It may not be the moment when it happens, it could be a day, a week even a month later when I will find out what I did wrong in your eyes, how I messed up again.

    You hurt me and I cry, then you tell me I am week. How can I be strong when the one who is supposed to love me treats me so poorly?

  7. Roberta Medema says:

    All these words are so very true. I have been in a verbally abusive marriage for 10 years. My husband rages daily, is consumed by self-pity, will not communicate, ignores me for weeks at a time, does not valadate my feelings in any way, is addicted to alcohol and what makes it worse, I am in business with him and have to be with him every day. Crying is my way of life. So, thank you for this website and I fully intend to come to the closest support group!

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