“You’re worthless!” … “You’ll never amount to anything!” … “I wish you had never been born!” Words like these in childhood can wound the heart for a lifetime. And further wounding takes place in adulthood through “control.” Threats like … “If you leave me, I’ll hurt the children!” or “I’ve taken the keys – you’re not going anywhere!” … are both emotionally and verbally abusive and are ways of maintaining control in relationships.
Abuse can also be perpetrated without a word – whether with degrading looks, obscene gestures, or threatening behaviours. These actions inflict immense pain and impede emotional growth. You don’t have to allow an abuser to make you feel worthless. Jesus says that God not only knows each and every sparrow, but He also knows you intimately and considers you to be of great worth. “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:6–7)
Emotional abuse is the unseen fallout of all other forms of abuse: physical, mental, verbal, sexual, and even spiritual abuse. People often minimise the importance of emotions. Yet with deeply wounded people, their feelings can be the driving force behind their choices … the life-sustaining element of their very beings. Emotional abuse strikes at the very core of whom we are … crushing our confidence … wearing away our sense of worth … crushing our spirit. The Bible says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)