What are the characteristics of emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is any nonphysical behavior or attitude that controls, intimidates, subjugates, demeans, punishes or isolates another person by using degradation, humiliation or fear.
  •  yelling,
  • screaming, and
  • name-calling are all forms of emotional abuse, as are more
  • subtle tactics such as: refusing to be pleased with anything,
  • isolating an individual from family and friends and
  • invalidating another’s thoughts and feelings.

 Examples of emotionally abusive behaviors include:

  • Humiliating and degrading
  • Discounting, distorting and negating
  • Accusing and blaming
  • Isolating
  • Withholding affection and emotional support
  • Withholding financial resources
  • Dismissive, disapproving, or contemptuous looks, comments or behavior
  • Threatening harm to an individual’s pets, possessions or person

The effects of emotional abuse are often debilitating the symptoms you may have are:

  • depression,
  • confusion,
  • difficulty concentrating and making decisions,
  • overwhelming feelings of worthlessness,
  • hopelessness and
  • poor physical health.
What is the difference between emotional abuse and occasional outbursts of anger?  It’s important to distinguish between emotional abuse and an occasional outburst of anger.  Because, everyone has a bad day once in a while and they may respond with a harsh or negative word on occasion.

Emotional abuse is an ongoing pattern of behavior designed to:

  • control,
  • manipulate and
  • subjugate another that usually occurs behind closed doors.
Example: When you set the table for dinner, your spouse or family member will come into the kitchen, walk around the table, and adjust the placement of the silverware, plates and glasses, saying some day you may or will get it right or maybe not ….

Why does one individual abuse another individual?

While the reasons for emotional abuse are complex, most experts believe it is rooted in unresolved childhood trauma. The individual is in as much pain as their victims, only they don’t realize it!  It takes a great deal of effort and professional guidance for an abuser to overcome his destructive patterns of behavior.

What does the Bible say?

Nowhere in scripture does God sanction any kind of abuse!  In 1 Corinthians 13, 4-7 God tells us what love is and what it is not. “It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs…It always protects

In regards to abuse within marriage, some misinterpret Ephesians 5:22 to justify abusive behavior. Scripture reveals that the marriage relationship is to reflect Christ’s relationship with his church—one of sacrificial love.  A wife is called to respond to her husband’s biblical headship, not to his destructive and sinful behavior, just as the wife’s mandate is to respect her husband. God never condones abuse!

Can survivors of emotional abuse find help and hope?

If you or someone you love is a victim of emotional abuse, there is hope! You can stop the cycle of abuse today by reaching out for help!

You were created for so much more!

You were created to have emotional freedom, inner peace, and strong self-esteem. Emotional abuse has undermined God’s plan for your life, your joy, and your peace. But what others have sabotaged, God can rebuild!”

Emotional abuse is rampant in our culture, and Christians are not immune. While all emotionally abusive relationships exact a toll on their victims, this type of domestic abuse within marriage is particularly destructive. The intimate nature of the marriage relationship presents unique challenges.

Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells?

Were you raised in a dysfunctional family?  Our childhood experiences may set us up for making poor choices later on in life.  You may need help to work through the challenges—as a couple, individually or both.

Victims

Find a safe place to talk and to someone, seek professional guidance each situation must be assessed on an individual level.

Is separation from this individual an option?

A time to heal in the life of the abuser. It forces them to face the destructive nature of their behavior and gives them an opportunity to seek help. The ultimate goal of this type of separation is healing—for the victim, the abuser and the marriage.  When a woman says, If I stay here much longer, I’m going to hurt myself or he’s going to hurt me, it’s time for them to move into a period of separation,” There are safety factors for individuals or families that need to be considered.”

During the separation, the victim, with guidance from a counselor, can begin to set appropriate boundaries and goals for the relationship. The abuser can also begin to address the issues causing their behavior. When both partners are willing to do the necessary and painful work required for healing, spouses can salvage the relationship.
Sometimes—and despite best efforts—separation and divorce are unavoidable. Other times, couples restore their relationship.  It has been a long and difficult journey, but you can find healing—individually and in their marriage. “It may seem hopeless at the time, but it’s not.
There is a way out, there is hope!

 

An emotionally abusive childhood

Your childhood may have been emotionally abusive and unpredictable. My mother, struggled from mental illness when I was a child. Not only did the incidents of violent and frightening outbursts of rage leave me feeling insecure, unloved and inherently bad, I sought out my attention by ditching school altogether or seeking affection from the opposite sex. Lonely, insecure and feeling unlovable, I grew to accept cruel and destructive behavior from friends, thinking I didn’t deserve any better.  Then I met _____,  described it as “love at first sight.” But he had a difficult home life, too. Raised by an abusive, alcoholic mother and burdened by the trauma of his past, he grew increasingly controlling and possessive.  As the abuse worsened, so did my health. I developed chronic pain. Although he was not a good fit for me I seemed to thrive for the challenge of tug of war.  I can honestly say this pattern repeated with other relationships, some with different outcomes and different forms of abuse.

Now, almost 50 years old I strive to remain healthy. I know I can heal from a lifetime of abuse. It’s taken me some time to learn to trust people and to form healthy, biblical friendships.” Despite the time it has taken to heal, I am grateful for all the love and support I have received from family and friends.

My testimony of God’s faithfulness and love. God has redeemed my pain and uses it to bring healing to others.

 

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