You can curb verbal and emotional abuse by developing a plan to prevent yourself from being controlled. You cannot change someone else, but you can change yourself so that the abusive tactics previously used on you are no longer effective. Determine appropriate boundaries and realise that these boundaries are designed to protect your heart. The Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)
Set the Boundaries:
1. State clearly, in a conversation or a letter, what you are willing to accept and not accept from the abuser.
- Communicate your position in a positive way.
- Do not justify yourself. Do not be apologetic, just state the boundary: “I want our relationship to continue, but …” “I am not willing to listen to your ‘name-calling.’ ” “I am not willing to hear your accusations concerning (name) any longer.” “I am not willing to endure the silent treatment from you.”
- Keep what you say short and succinct.
“A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered.” (Proverbs 17:27)
2. Announce the consequence you will enforce if the abuser violates your requests.
- Your response should be a matter of disengaging from the abuser.
- You cannot change the abuser’s behaviour, but you can remove yourself from frequent exposure to unacceptable behaviour. “I want to visit with you, but …” “If you call me a name again, I will leave … (specific time)” “If you persist in making that accusation, I will end our conversation.” “If you give me the silent treatment, I will go and find someone else to talk with.”
- Consequences are part of God’s divine plan that what we sow, we will reap.
“A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7)
3. Enforce the consequence every single time the abuse occurs.
- The abuser needs to know that you are going to act consistently on your words.
- Plan on being tested at least twice and maybe up to five times.
- In your mind and heart say “no” to manipulation, pressure, and control.
- Eventually, your abuser will stop an abusive tactic … but only after that tactic proves to be ineffective.
“Let your ‘Yes’ be yes, and your ‘No,’ no.” (James 5:12)