Written by Anne L. Bicks, Editor for Dana Bicks LLC
I have a close friend who is a beautiful Christian woman—a regular participant in church activities and worship. She devoutly lives her life and is raising her children (from an earlier marriage) by the Ten Commandments. She married a Christian man twenty-two years ago. With a beautiful future ahead of her, she has relished in the joy of holy matrimony.
One day, upon visiting her home, I witnessed her husband’s verbal abuse to both her and the children. Later, I approached his anger issues with her, and she made excuses for his behavior – “he’s stressed out from work,” “he’s tired,” “I’m not perfect either,” and even, “but he’s a good man!” Finally, in a weak moment, she admitted that leaving her marriage was not what God would intend for her to do. So, she would stay with him and pray for his salvation. As you can see, abuse is often more difficult to understand because, in public, the abuser is the perfect Christian. In private, however, they are a different person.
Most of us know someone who is verbally abused or perhaps you, personally, are involved in an abusive marriage. You understand that it is NOT God’s will for this to happen as angry and critical words destroy confidence and self-esteem. Verbal abuse is about having power and control over another human being – an un-Christlike drive to meet and keep dominance. Its harmful and destructive to everyone, including any children who may be part of the picture.
So, what are the hidden signs of an abuser? Here are some true indicators:
Do they withhold information?
Do they constantly counter and correct everything you say and do?
Do they take verbal jabs in the form of humor?
Do they accuse you of doing things that could harm the relationship?
Do they judge you and become critical of expressing your point of view?
Do they take something that is said or done and make it insignificant?
Do they undermine you by withholding emotional support?
Do they threaten you? This may include threatening to leave or threatening to get a divorce.
Do they call you names?
Do they consistently forget about the promises they have made which are most important you?
Do they give orders instead of asking, treating you like a slave or subordinate?
Do they use the Bible as a weapon against you – usually taking things out of context?
Do they isolate you from family and friends and insist on knowing your every move?
Do they deny you access to financial information or accounts or prevent you from attending school or getting a job?
Do they mock you or put you down?
Do they accuse you of being controlling, disrespectful, unsubmissive, and self-important?
Are they in denial they are verbally abusive?
If two or more of these questions may be answered with a “YES,” the chances are very likely that an abusive personality is in your midst. A verbal abuser doesn’t characterize the truth that comes from God. They are being used by Satan to accomplish his evil plans. If marriage partners are truly seeking to honor Christ, they will not want to hurt each other, but instead, encourage each other. The Bible clearly warns us about the dangers of being in the presence of an angry person:
“Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man.”
“An angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.”
As is so often asked, is there hope that some abusers can change? The answer is yes, but with certain stipulations. It begins by recognizing verbal abuse for what it is and taking deliberate and immediate steps to stop it and bring healing. The abuser needs to repent!
Sadly, most Christian women are less likely to seek help, because many believe the Bible says they must submit to their husband regardless of his behavior (as in the case of my friend). Being submissive in a marriage does not mean allowing yourself to be verbally beaten by your partner! The best chance a marriage has of surviving verbal abuse is to seek professional help. God does call for us to be good stewards of our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, sexual and financial health.
Some important things to note:
#1: Know that God loves you!
#2: Understand that verbal abuse is NOT YOUR FAULT! You may be feeling that the problems in your marriage are caused by you or that you’re a bad person. Deal with the feelings of guilt and shame through a parish or a professional Christian counselor. Build a support system!
As Christians, and on behalf of the unity of the church, let us pray –
You are the God of all comfort. We pray for those who have been abused within our churches and across our nation. Have compassion upon all who suffer the injustice, humiliation and pain of abuse. During their stressful circumstances, give them courage to speak. May your perfect love drive out fear and anxiety. We humbly ask you to create opportunities for these men, women and children to share their pain, reveal their struggles and expose the hurtful actions of others. Strengthen them with Your precious love. We humbly plead these things in the name of our Lord.
I found a wonderful article written by a Christian woman who lived through an abusive marriage. I would like to share it with you –