Verbal & Emotional Abuse: “Putting Away Past Pain” — by June Hunt
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June Hunt on Verbal & Emotional Abuse: “Putting Away Past Pain”

April 2016June Hunt

When callous words pierce your heart, they can leave scars that last a lifetime … cruel words like, “You idiot!” “You’re hopeless!” “You’ll never amount to anything!” … caustic words causing you to feel powerless—for years. If you’re a victim of ongoing verbal and emotional abuse, then you’ve felt ongoing pain. I know, because I have.

I grew up in a home where my dad was like a dictator—no other opinion allowed; no other view valued. My father’s belittling behavior—especially toward my mother—felt excruciating to me.

My most loyal friend—my only confidant—was Bambi, our silver-haired poodle. One day I walked to a nearby lake to write an English paper. Heading back home after about an hour, my eyes fixated on something gray in the middle of the road. As I got closer, I realized (to my horror) it was precious Bambi. Escaping through an open door, she scampered to meet me … but was hit by a car and killed.

Sobbing, I scooped her up in my arms and as I approached our house, I saw my father arriving home from work. Oh how I longed for words of comfort. But when he saw Bambi’s lifeless body, my already broken heart was further cut to the core.

How could you be so stupid? It’s all your fault. Bambi is dead because of you!

I was stunned. Yet more daggers were to come. As tears streamed down my face, my father’s verbal assaults only intensified.

Crying is a sign of mental illness! Stop crying!” he demanded. He actually believed this. My father repeatedly threatened to institutionalize Mother if she cried, so I learned very early:  Never shed a tear. Consequently, for many years I was emotionally shut down—I couldn’t cry.

At that point, I was powerless to change the situation, but I’m not powerless now. I learned firsthand how God gives us His supernatural power to overcome the pain of our past. We can heal from our deepest hurts because “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life” (2 Peter 1:3).

If years ago you were repeatedly verbally attacked, you may still struggle with the lingering fallout of verbal and emotional abuse. You may even continue to be in bondage to the pain of your past—unable to experience complete victory over the “victim mentality” (feeling powerless with a “once-a-victim, always-a-victim” mind-set).

Overcoming Verbal & Emotional Abuse

But success is assured when you choose to live in the light of God’s truth, found in God’s Word. God can restore any hurting heart and renew anyone longing to find peace that passes understanding … and power to rise above all past abuse.

The healing process takes time. But you will find victory when you grow in intimacy with the Lord and trust Him to heal your wounded heart.

  1. Give your heart completely to God.
    Let Him be your Deliverer. Ask Him to heal your past pain and soothe your soul as you take refuge in Him and draw on His strength. “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer” (Psalm 18:2).
  2. Search for the truth.
    Seek truths from biblical principles and the wise counsel of trustworthy people to help you understand and address your situation. “Walk with the wise and become wise” (Proverbs 13:20).
  3. Pay attention to your feelings and perceptions.
    See the abuse for what it is—actual abuse. “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long” (Psalm 25:5).
  4. Clear your mind of confusion.
    Refuse to be confused if your abuser tries to shift blame back onto you. Remember: “God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33 ESV).
  5. Acknowledge your destructive feelings.
    Make a list of any of your destructive thoughts and emotions (for example, bitterness, hatred, revenge). Be honest with God about them. “Cleanse me … and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7).
  6. Forgive your abuser.
    Choose to release each abuser to God. “Forgive one another if any of you  has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
  7. Realize that healing is a process, not a single event.
    Refuse to settle for quick fixes and painless solutions. Embrace the journey of the healing process. “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity … a time to heal” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3).
  8. Reach out and minister to others.
    Ask God to fill you with a passionate desire to comfort others and share your emotional healing with them. “The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort … comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4).

I have seen God change the lives of countless victims of verbal and emotional abuse—those who now walk in victory. If you still struggle from past verbal and emotional abuse, I pray that today you will take these steps toward healing, learn to free yourself from a victim mentality, and start living in freedom.

“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” (Psalm 119:45 NLT)

Yours in the Lord’s hope,

June Hunt

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Content adapted in part from June Hunt, How to Forgive . . . When You Don’t Feel Like It (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2007), 20–21; June Hunt, How to Rise Above Abuse (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2010), 203–207.
Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®) Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. ESV Text Edition: 2007.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. New Living, NLT, and the New Living Translation logo are registered trademarks of Tyndale House Publishers.