Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is a form of overt, emotional abuse. A skilled woodsman uses his weapon carefully, chopping repeatedly on a precise spot until the targeted tree falls. This lumberjack takes pride in controlling himself and his weapon, never striking a careless blow. Likewise, a verbal abuser uses his tongue as a weapon to hack away at another person. This abuser is skilled in his ability to strike a blow and uses words that sarcastically cut heart and soul. “You love every harmful word, O you deceitful tongue!” (Psalm 52:4)

Verbal abuse is the systematic, ongoing use of harmful words or a sharp tone in an attempt to control or dominate another person. Abuse means mistreatment: the destructive misuse of something or someone. Verbal abuse is always destructive. “Your tongue plots destruction; it is like a sharpened razor, you who practice deceit.” (Psalm 52:2)

Verbal abuse injures the feelings of others with condemning, insulting, or condescending words. The Hebrew word for revile is “gadaph,” from a root word that means “cut” or “wound.” Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” (Matthew 5:11)

Verbal abuse often seeks to injure the reputation of others … using tactics such as backbiting, gossip, barbs, or belittling talk … using strategies such as slander, slurs, and lies. “You love evil rather than good, falsehood rather than speaking the truth.” (Psalm 52:3)

The Bible details numerous attitudes and actions we should have toward each other. If we follow these guidelines, we will never be abusive toward anyone … “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3–4)