Emotional Abuse

Conflict is inevitable and normal in all relationships. However, if conflict or anger is not managed effectively it can lead to abusive behaviors such as emotional abuse, also referred to as verbal abuse, psychological abuse or mental abuse. These destructive words and behaviors strike at the very heart of relationship safety and trust, fracturing its foundation and giving Satan entrance. While physical abuse may cause visible bruises, emotional abuse crushes a person’s spirit (Proverbs 18:21).

Emotional abuse is considered to be the most common form of abuse or domestic violence and the most difficult to identify. This type of domestic violence includes a chronic pattern of using words as weapons to control, hurt, dominate or to manipulate through deceit, or misleading statements. Some specific examples include: name-calling, mocking, cursing, chronic criticism, constant blaming, discounting or devaluing the feelings, thoughts, or opinions of another privately or in public. Emotional abuse can also occur when a spouse uses spiritual-sounding language to dominate, control and/or demean the other spouse. We must be clear emotional abuse is sin. It is not acceptable in any marriage and, particularly, should have no place in a Christian marriage.

For More Information

What is Emotional Abuse? When is the Line Crossed?
Emotional abuse if often difficult to identify and recognize within relationships. This 6:05 video helps viewer to understand the signs and identify emotional abuse. [Leslie Vernick]

Relationship Spectrum: Healthy – Unhealthy – Abusive 
All relationships exist on a spectrum ranging from healthy to unhealthy to abusive. Check out the Relationship Spectrum to see where your relationship falls! [Adapted by ACCFS]

Domestic Violence and Abuse: Recognizing the Signs of an Abusive Relationship and Getting Help [Helpguide.org]

The Emotionally Destructive Marriage Webinar
Our Daily Bread Ministries hosted a webinar on The Emotionally Destructive Marriage with guests Leslie Vernick & Chris Moles. This site contains videos from the webinar that answer common questions and share insights on recognizing and responding to abuse behaviors in marriage.

Support Organizations

FOCUS Ministries
Domestic Violence, Domestic Abuse and Spousal Abuse Help for Women. FOCUS Ministries is a not-for-profit organization devoted to offering hope, encouragement, education, and assistance to women who are struggling in difficult circumstances, especially dysfunctional marriages, spousal abuse, separation or divorce.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
This free service is staffed by advocates 24/7/365 and is reachable by phone 1-800-799-7233 [SAFE] or online chat. They provide support, information, and can connect individuals with local resources and shelters. Advocates are available just to talk or can help someone in need of crisis intervention.


Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, To Take Control of Your Lifewhat is emotional abuse     amazon.com
Authors: Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
This 304-page book is about developing emotional and relational boundaries. It focuses on helping you take responsibility for your own actions and to not let others run over your boundaries by using guilt, anger, or manipulation.


what is emotional abuseThe Emotionally Destructive Relationship amazon.com
Author: Leslie Vernick; 256 pages
This practical and thorough resource will help countless individuals, families, and churches view abuse from God’s perspective and understand how vital it is for victims to embrace His freedom from the physical, emotional, spiritual, and generational effects of emotionally destructive relationships. Readers will understand how to: 1) Reveal behaviors that are meant to control, punish, and hurt, 2) Confront and speak truth when the timing is right, 3) Determine when to keep trying, when to get out, 4) Get safe and stay safe, 5) Build an identity in Christ.

what is emotional abuseEmotionally Destructive Marriageamazon.com
Author: Leslie Vernick
This 240-page book helps the reader identify damaging behavior and gain skills to respond in a wise and biblically sound manner. It provides insights that promote healthy change within an abusive relationship.


Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them: Breaking the Cycle of Physical & Emotional Abusewhat is emotional abuse   amazon.com
Author: Paul Hegstrom
This 152-page book offers help for those who want to break the cycle of physical and emotional abuse. This book discusses both stopping the abuse and the process of healing and recovery and is helpful for individuals in an abusive relationship as well as for those trying to help them.