Today I found Leslie Vernick’s website through a suggestion from April Cassidy (aka The Peaceful Wife), and I was pleasantly surprised to find a concise yet thorough explanation of what emotional and verbal abuse entail. I experienced constant verbal abuse growing up, but I have also experienced it as an adult. During the second occurrence I didn’t realize what was happening, but looking back I can see that all of these things happened to me. This is one of the things God revealed to me during my journey to walk alongside those who have been abused, and it is important for everyone to know.
Take it away Leslie…
Proverbs says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18), and “Wise words bring many benefits” (Proverbs 12:14). “Gentle words are a tree of life, a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). “Kind words are like honey – sweet to the soul and healthy for the body” (Proverbs 16:24).
Most often we think of name calling, cursing, profanity and mocking when we think of verbal abuse. However, verbal abuse can also be more subtle or covert. Constant criticism, blaming, discounting the feelings, thoughts and opinions of another, as well as manipulating words to deceive, mislead or confuse someone are also abusive. Proverbs warns us, “The words of the wicked conceal violent intentions” (Proverbs 10:6b).
Emotional abuse can also be characterized by degrading, embarrassing publicly, or humiliating someone in front of family, friends or work associates.
Nonphysical abuse is more than using words to hurt another. Emotional abusers systematically undermine their victim in order to gain control. Abusers weaken others in order to strengthen themselves. They know what matters most to their target (for example, her children, his work, her appearance, her family, his pet, her friends) and they seek to destroy it.
Realizing that I was abused verbally has helped me to cope with an extremely painful situation that has haunted me for years. Just finding the words to articulate that it was abuse, and not something I imagined, has made such a huge impact on my emotional state.
Thank you for your continued prayers as I read my way through different books and articles. I believe God is doing a work, and He is showing me how to help people that have been abused. I know your prayers have kept me from nightmares and panic attacks after hours of reading horrendous testimonies. Please keep praying!