Patricia Jones, M.A.
Are you being Emotionally Abused?

And if you need someone to talk to and to help you to get the courage to do what you need to do in order to stop the abuse, please feel free to contact me for help and advice.
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              Are You Being Emotionally Abused? 

How would you define emotional abuse? Is it the same as verbal abuse? Or a part of the whole package? Many people feel that emotional abuse is worse than physical abuse because you cannot see it, there are no broken bones, or bruises. And because others cannot SEE any physical evidence and are seldom around to witness it, it is hard to prove, much less have others believe you.

When people are in jail, unjustly, as in prisoners of war, they often retreat into their minds to survive the experience. And while our bodies can be violated, tortured and broken, our minds on the other hand, are not seen, our thoughts are not heard, unless we voice them, and our hearts can think anything we want to think. But when someone is using words to knock down your inner spirit, your self-esteem and your self-worth, it can feel like you have been broken down physically as well. Only the scars and the bruises do not go away.
The Bible teaches that one of the smallest things that also has the capacity to destroy lives is the human tongue and what we say or don't say with it to others. The tongue can be extremely destructive.

James 3:5-8 states:                                       

5. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6. And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, [1] and set on fire by hell. [2] 7. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8. but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. And it is with the tongue, the words, that people emotionally abuse others. 
What is your relationship like?  See if you can answer the following questions:

Do you feel that something is  not quite right with your relationship, but you don't quite know how to put a name on it? 
Do you feel that your partner controls  every facet of your life?

Do you feel that your partner does not value your thoughts or feelings and agrees just to placate you?
Will your partner do anything to win an argument, such as put you down, threaten or intimidate you? 
Does your partner get angry and jealous if you talk to someone else? 

Are you accused of having affairs when nothing could be further from the truth?
Do you feel that you can never do anything right in your partner's eyes and he is always checking behind you?
Do you get mixed messages about what your partner said one day, and then he says the complete opposite the next, or actually says he never said what he really did say?
Are you told that no one else would want you, or that you are lucky your partner takes care of you?
Do you have to account for every waking moment of your time?
When you try to talk to your partner about problems, or you are looking for help and advice to you get called names such as bitch or nag? 

If you wish to spend money, does your partner make you account for every penny, or say you don't deserve anything?  Or does he say that all of the financial problems in your relationship are caused by you?
After an argument, does your partner insist that you have sex as a way to make up when that is the last thing you feel like doing ?
Does he use the children or your family against you in arguments?

Does your partner threaten that you will never see the children again if you leave?
Does your partner blame you for everything that goes wrong? 

Does your partner take the side of the other person when you tell him that that other person hurt you or offended you?
How are you affected from this abuse?

Are you unable or afraid to make decisions for yourself? 

Do you do anything you can to please your partner or not upset him and it feels like you  are always walking on egg shells when he is home?
Do you make excuses for your partner's behavior around others and to your family and friends because you are embarrassed at how he treats you? 
Are you forgetful, confused or unable to concentrate?

Have you noticed that you used to feel intelligent, smart, confident and happy but now you feel like a complete failure?
Have you noticed changes in your eating, sleeping, alcohol or drug use?
Have you lost interest or energy to do the things you used to?
Do you feel sick, anxious, tired or depressed a lot of the time?
Have you lost contact with your friends, family or neighbors?
Have you lost self-confidence and feel afraid that you could not make it alone and feel completely helpless to change your situation?
What can you do about it? 

Well, the first thing to realize is that all of these behaviors on the part of your spouse are completely and utterly offbase, wrong, and sinful. They do not denote someone who has the first idea of what love is all about.  Also realize that YOU are not the cause or the reason for his behavior, HE IS. In other words, 99% of what he says to you that is negative and demeaning is a lie and has no truth to it whatsoever.
Realize that emotional abuse is a serious problem and you can get help. Recognize that emotional abuse is as bad or worse than physical abuse. Take your own safety and the safety of your children seriously. Know that emotional abuse can lead to physical violence or death.  Emotional abuse more often than not precedes physical abuse, so it is a HUGE warning sign of things getting worse, not better.

Know that you are not to blame for your partner's abusive behavior. HE is to blame for his abusive behavior and he will one day have to answer to God for every word he has ever spoken to you in order to control you.
Rather than feeling like the leader God called them to be, men who abuse their wives often have  a deep sense of inferiority...they may feel worthless and unsuccessful, they greatly desire the approval of their peers and leaders. They may be hypersensitive to the words and actions of their wives, many times taking what their wives said the wrong way, thinking that they are being put down or being made fun of, interpreting their actions and words as disrespectful. The man who emotionally abuses his wife demands respect but feels no need to earn it. He is in denial about the fact that his behavior does nothing to foster his family to respect him. Quite the opposite occurs.  His behavior only causes his family to fear and despise him. 

Husbands are called by God to be servant leaders to their wives and children. God calls them to love sacrificially, to be kind, not harsh, to deal with their wives according to understanding and to show them consideration as equal heirs of the gracious gift of life. If husbands fail to do this, God says their relationship with the Lord is hindered (1 Peter 3:7). In fact, God says that their prayers will be hindered if they treat their wives badly.
" Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."

Sometimes they will use whatever means it takes: Fear, controlling, intimidation, aggression, violence and so on. Husbands who are abusive often have the mind set that they have a right to their own way. "After all", they rationalize, "God gave me headship over this family."   And they use that verse to control and intimidate their wives as if they were a dictator and Hitler himself.

It is my feeling that men have to "earn" the respect of their wives. And if they think that you have to do whatever they say you have to do even if it will cause you harm, then they need to think again. When God gave men the responsibility, and that is what it is, of leadership over their wives and their families, he also gave them the consequences if their families fall apart because of their cruel and abusive leadership.
Another issue, that has been misunderstood of recognizing and dealing with emotional abuse in the church, is the issue of submission. Many wives have been encouraged that they should respond to abusive husbands by simply demonstrating "a quiet and gentle spirit". Unfortunately, many women wrongly believe that if they were truly godly women according to 1 Peter 3 then their husbands would not treat them so poorly. This of course is untrue and not what God meant at all.

Ministers and churches that take that verse out of context and think it apply's in all situations are off base. The person that God was addressing in that verse is the nagging type of wife, who is not being abused by her husband but who is actually trying to "wear the pants" in the family and is verbally and emotionally slowly wearing down her husband's desire and ability to lead his family.  God was NOT telling wives who were being physically, emotionally and mentally abused to be submissive to that type of treatment.
Trust yourself and your own experiences. Believe in your own strengths and in the power of God to protect you. Remember that you and God are your own best source of knowledge and strength, and that you already have the tools you need to survive.  Also realize that you train people how to treat you by what you allow them to say and do to you.

Where can you turn to? 

Women's help lines are also for emotionally abused women as well as physically abused women. Find the number in the front of your phone book. Shelters do accept women who are emotionally abused and have not been physically abused. 

If you have been threatened with harm or death, or are being stalked (followed and harassed) by your partner or ex-partner, you can call the police. Dial 911, or if you are in a rural area, find out the emergency number.
If you are considering leaving, especially if you have children, see a lawyer. 
Abused women are at the greatest risk of being harmed or killed when they leave. Ensure that you have a safety plan in place.  
The man who emotionally abuses his wife demands respect and feels no need to earn it. This in turn, does nothing to make his spouse or his family want to respect him. On the contrary, his behavior only conditions his family to fear and despise him. 
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