Are Physical and Verbal Abuse the Same?

Are Physical and Verbal Abuse the Same?

Here is an excerpt from an excellent book written in 1990 entitled Liberated Through Submission: God’s Design for Freedom in All Relationships By P.B. Wilson.

A person asked, “My husband has never hit me, but he is verbally abusive. Don’t you think it’s the same thing?

Answer: “I have been present when husbands and wives verbally abuse one another, and some of the sharpest knives could not compete with the damage of the tongue. However, I do believe verbal and physical abuse are different. Bodily harm endangers your life; verbal abuse is damaging to your emotions and self-image.

So many times a person who is verbally abusive comes from a contemptuous background. Such destructive behavior requires prayerful, serious attention and help. In this case, you may be the help your husband needs. When a person sends out hate and it is met with love, there’s no contest. Love is the strongest force on earth:

“Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

When we go against our emotions and will and submit to God’s Word, we can trust that God will intervene with a verbally abusive person in His own time. He will make things right. What is our guarantee? Three little words: “Love never fails.”

It is impossible for God’s love to fail. Even if the immediate situation defies that Scripture. God’s promise is that His love for us will never fail. And it always accomplishes that which it set out to do. It is, however, one of the hardest attributes to exercise. God’s unconditional love boggles the human mind.

A friend of mine was in a verbally abusive situation for many years. She continued to pray for her husband and to treat him with respect, but also learned to “disconnect” herself from the unkind words which often assailed her. She did this by focusing her attention on other important matters: her children, her friends, and her care of the home. Although wounded and rejected by her spouse, she developed an inner conviction that his words were untrue and unfair and she should not take them to heart. This enabled her to receive God’s love and acceptance through the kindness of others.

My friend honestly believed that if she gave the situation to God and trusted Him, he would eventually rectify it. She spent hours in the Word and in prayer. Vital to her survival was a small circle of understanding and encouraging friends who refused to allow her to sink into self-incrimination and depression. Her friends reminded her of “who she was,” and encouraged her to be thankful for the positive things in her life.

Finally, a dramatic transformation occurred. After 14 years of cynical and bitter words, the husband was brought face-to-face with his failure. His criticism and insults were silenced within a matter of days. It was my friend’s careful and determined obedience to God’s voice that finally brought about the change.

God’s Word has called us to submit to Him in many areas that are offensive to our mind and flesh. What person in his right mind would want to love his enemies or pray for those who despitefully use him? Yet God calls His children to do just that. Verbal abuse is nothing new to God. His Word equips the believer for handling verbal assaults, with such instructions as, “Return blessing for insults,” and “A soft answer turns away wrath.”

I’m not saying that responding in this way is easy. I’m sure this is one of those instances about which Jesus promises, “They that suffer with me shall reign with me.”

To help you get through the pain, I recommend that you surround yourself with a strong group of praying Christians, and that you fortify yourself with God’s Word. Learn to see yourself as God sees you. Be sure and read Psalm 139! Once you understand who you are in Him, no one can tear you down.

And look at it this way: Missionaries depart every day for heathen nations with a mission to take these territories for Christ. You have been given the blessed privilege of being a missionary, and you don’t even have to get a passport, pack or leave home!

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.
1 Peter 3:1

11 thoughts on “Are Physical and Verbal Abuse the Same?

  1. My hubs is verbally abuseive, I have given it back to him. Which is wrong it just continues to happen. I know it’s about him. I just learn to be quiet and not respond back, I know God has a plan .

  2. A toxic marriage is not healthy at all, especially a physically or verbally abusive one! However, many couples don’t try every avenue to work through and stop the cycle of toxicity and divorce as the easy way out!

  3. From 1999 through 2010 I worked for the media ministry of the late Dr. D. James
    Kennedy. Bunny Wilson was a guest on both the radio and TV broadcasts. I was a phone representative and whenever she was onand her book was offered, the phones went crazy. The information is greatly needed.

  4. I am very familiar with “bullying” and it has taken years for me to stop believing those lies, and use the word of God to replace it with truth. I used to run away from the hurtful remarks, or believe them and self harm. What has helped me is slowing down, having a helpful heart and attitude and even using humor to diffuse painful situations. Only do the humor with caution, never to wound but to help people snap out of a destructive cycle of words. Being quick to listen and slow to speak and not taking offense is the only way I have persevered. I still feel those wounds deeply and take them to Jesus for help…and he is faithful. There is less and less conflict in our home and it has taken years. Corinthians says love bears all things, and I know He can carry all these burdens we cannot. Bless you <3

  5. I always ask myself, “Is this personal or personality?” Some folks are just grumpy or moody by nature and they lash out at others frequently. Not fun to deal with and it doesn’t encourage a close, warm relationship, but I refuse to make their bad temper or hostility my problem. Another question I ask myself is whether or not my behavior has created the hostile reaction. If the answer is yes, I apologize. If not, I don’t let it bother me. When you find yourself the target of their anger or hostility, you can also ask yourself if this is a real attempt to settle a difference of opinion and move forward or what my mom used to call “a put down party.” If it is a “put down party” your best defense is to walk away rather than stay for further abuse. I have also found that genuine laughter can stop this behavior. I am not talking about bitter, hostile laughter, but instead genuine laughter about the other person’s ridiculous behavior. This can also stop hostility in its tracks. You aren’t being defensive or trying to prove the other person wrong and the reality is that most angry people are more mortified by this reaction than by your responding to their anger with your own. You must understand that there are people in the world who relish a battle, but it is not your job to respond to every nitpicking comment or sarcastic remark. Save your big guns for the arguments you truly need to win. Advice from someone who has lived with difficult step parents and family members and learned how to manage their behavior without resorting to self-pity, self-incrimination, or angry responses of my own.

  6. Over many years, I have seen in couple after couple, the women were by far more verbally abusive than men. Yet they refuse to admit it.

    Women are also more likely to divorce and more likely to hit, more likely to falsely accuse in order to get a better divorce settlement, and for most of my friends, by far the worse divorced parent.

    Like so many men today, I have developed an extremely negative view of the feminine sex. I attribute that bad behavior to Feminist insanity that has been pumped into the minds of girls since they are young. Take any youth and tell them they can do no wrong, and show them TV shows in which their role models treat others like dirt, and they will grow into vile, vile people. Those are the women of today’s society. It might take decades to right this wrong.

  7. Whether we know it or not, we are in the cultural shadow of the “Duluth Model,” which is fundamentally a feminist construct that perceives male power over women as “abuse.”

    It is so ingrained in us that one need only say “She was escaping an abusive marriage” to obtain sympathy for a woman divorcing without Biblical cause.

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