II Timothy 1:7
For God
not given us the spirit of fear;
but of
power, and
of love,
and of a sound mind.

Emotional Abuse

One of the unseen abuses many women face is the incidence of emotional abuse. For many victims they do not see or identify emotional abuse as a social crime against them. Instead, they face each day as is, with no effort of changing their situation. It is as if they accept the status quo, or maybe they think that since the abuser does not hit them, the behaviour is not abuse. This is a fallacy and a naïve way of accepting this behaviour, which is destructive to their self-confidence, personal development, and mental and spiritual growth.

What is Emotional Abuse?

When we think of emotional abuse, it may seem unimportant to matter to anyone. The reason is that the behaviour cannot be seen, but those who are victims will tell of the various ways in which the abuser attacks and instill non-physical behaviours to make them feel shame and embarrassment. The intensity of the behaviour can and usually proceeds to physical abuse.

We can define emotional abuse as any non-physical behaviour one individual consistently, purposefully, and cruelly inflicts on another to cause emotional pain.
Keep in mind that emotional abuse, although it can be by itself, yet it is really the result of other forms of abuses. It is sometimes ignored because the abuser may not strike his victim, but will use various forms of negative behaviours to control and overcome the victim. The aim is to subdue the victim, so that the abuser gains complete control. The abuser’s determination is to humiliate and suppress self-esteem, preventing the victim from helping herself. Therefore, the victim no longer thinks independently, but learns to rely on the abuser for everything.

The extent to which the abuser will go to carry out his malicious demands often isolates the woman, and keeps her from her own family and friends. The degree to which he will execute his vindictiveness, and the methods he uses, often makes the woman cower so that even hearing his voice evokes fear.

Methods of Control

There are many ways in which the emotional abuser can hurt his victim, and they include, but not limited to the following:


This is about the first stage of emotional abuse a victim will encounter. The abuser will use hurtful language to make the individual become self-conscious believing the negatives he speaks about her. Similar to a parent who will tell a child, “You will not amount to anything,” there is no difference with the husband who tells his wife she is fat, ugly, and no man will ever want her.


Anger is one method the abuse uses to obtain compliance from his victim. His anger will become intense with rage over the least offense, even when he is the one at fault.


The abuser belittles the victim and tells her she is not worth anything. He might even say that she should be glad that he married her because no one else would have her. He will use debasing words to make her feel that she is nothing and should feel obliged to obey him because he is the only one who loves her.


It does not matter what the woman does, the abuser will crush her efforts by telling her she cannot do anything right. He tells her she is dumb and stupid and will disgrace her in the presence of her children, and others. Sometimes, he only looks at her with disapproval so that she knows how he feels about her efforts. In those situations, he will shout and scream at the victim not caring who hears, or how she feels about his ranting. The victim no longer thinks for herself because she depends on the abuser in order to please him. Anytime that she is quiet, he wants to know what she is thinking. Is she thinking to do him some hurt? He is always on edge fearful that she might leave or harm him.


The abuser blames the victim for her hurting her. He tells her that she is the cause for the abuses and the reason why he shouts orders and screams when there are errors. He accuses her of everything that goes wrong in his life, the home, and the children. She can never do anything right to please him.

Financial Withholding

There are times when the woman works, but she has to give the earning to her abuser. He controls all purchases and keeps her almost penniless. The abuser does not allow the woman to make personal purchases, otherwise, he will scold her, and she may have to return the article to the store with him being present. The woman has no monies of her own because the abuser controls and directs all finances.


Once the abuser gains power over the victim, he then uses various forms of threats to keep the woman in subjection so that she obeys him, or else. One of the things he threatens her with is the loss of her children if she dares to want to leave his cruelty. He will tell her that if she takes the children, he will find her and kill her. Therefore, she stays with him and does not tell anyone about the treatment. There are times when an observer will notice bags under her eyes, evidence of lack of sleep, irritation, and nervousness about the woman who will pass it off nonchalantly as nothing or just tiredness. Still, most people can sense when someone is undergoing undue pressures in a relationship.
Another way in which the abuser uses threats is with pets and personal belongings the victim has. He will tell her that if she leaves him or reports him, he will kill those pets. For these reasons and more, the woman will comply for her personal safety and those whom she loves.


The abuser will coerce the woman to give up a job so that he can control her actions. If she goes to work, he is afraid someone might see her and entice her away from him, so he keeps her at home. He will also prevent her from any personal aspirations she might have to better herself.


The victim will be isolated from her family and cannot visit them, nor does he allow them to visit her. If anyone calls her on the phone, the abuser listens in. He tells her what to say, and when to end the call if he does not take the phone from her. One could say that the abuser imprisons the victim by isolating her.


Emotional abuse is a form of witchcraft because it has the same components of manipulation, domination, and control.

Manipulation: the abuser uses any kinds of influence to get someone to comply with another person’s desires. The abuser may use gifts, word-baits, or anger if any of these will move the victim to accept. He will exploit the individual to gain his way once she comes under his influence. Eventually, the abuser learns the ways of the victim and knows how to persuade that person to his own will and desires.

Domination: the abuser gains power to dominate with his own subjective authority. The victim becomes a robot and moves under the command of the abuser.

Control: after the abuser gained the trust of the victim, he is now able to regulate what she does, when she does it, and under his command. He controls everything she does and seemingly, she has no mind of her own. The abuser has gained charge of her life.

Describing Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is not easily identifiable as physical abuse, which reflects bruising, and wounds, rape, hitting, and so on. In order to describe emotional abuse, the woman must be able to express her feelings with intense language that will explain the abuse. To say that she was hurt is not enough if she felt pain and anguish. For example, to understand what she felt concerning an event, she would have to use language such as “I was very hurt…” This makes it easier for the listener to understand the intensity of her feelings. Saying “I was hurt” does not explain exactly the intense of the feeling.

Effects of Emotional Abuse

The outcome of emotional abuse appears to be similar to any other types of abuses. The reason is that the victim reports the same mental, psychological, physiological, and spiritual experiences. Those situations include the following:


This is a feeling of helplessness, and sometimes causes despair. It is when someone feels unhappy and unloved resulting from emotional pain, sadness, misery, and dejection. There is treatment for depression, and the individual should seek help since it can escalate and become clinical when intervention will be required to bring relief. Untreated depression may lead to destructive outcomes. Therefore, anyone who feels constant sadness, gloom, hopelessness, and despondency, that person should immediately seek help. There is no need to live in that place of melancholy or sadness because God did not intend that any person should be unhappy. Despite what we each face in life, there is hope if we seek help and get the support we need.


When someone feels confusion, there are underlying problems, which occupy the mind and the person is unable to think clearly. The situation may result in mistakes on the job, in the home and in other situations because the individual is not present, but somewhere else in the mind. There is inattentiveness, disorder in the life and mind, chaos and perplexity.


The victim will suffer from constant frustration because there is interruption of the plans, which she had for her life. The circumstances in her life, over which she has no control, or thinks she does not prevent her from reaching her goal. She knows that her abuser hinders her from self-expression, but dares not attempt to remedy the situation. She feels defeated, and this is why she gets frustrated and irritable over the least situation outside of the home.

Healing From Emotional Abuse

No one wants to remain in pain whether it is physical or emotional. We all seek for relief in order to restore balance to our lives. Therefore, the one suffering from emotional abuse must seek help immediately so that depression and other situations do not take over the life. Although the abuses may cease, there is the residue of emotional pain that will keep the individual in bondage for a long time unless there is healing.

  1. Acknowledge where you are, what you have done, and your own weaknesses and faults [James 5:16];
  2. Make your confession to the Lord. Do not hold back anything, even if you are angry. He wants to know from YOU [Psalm 51, James 5:16];
  3. Decide in your heart that you will do whatsoever the Lord bids you to do [I Peter 5:6-7];
  4. Invite the Holy Spirit in your life to take control [Galatians 5:16, 22-25];
  5. Humble yourself to the will of God and do not hold back. He can take care of all your needs [I Peter 5:6-7; James 4:7];
  6. Decide in your heart to set boundaries – get rid of people who cannot contribute to your relationship with the Lord [Proverbs 1:10-16];
  7. Search your life for any habits or behaviours you know will hamper your walk with the Lord or prevent you from having that intimate relationship with Him [Colossians 3:5-20];
  8. Ask the Lord to point you to true Christian people who are sincere in following the Lord, and who can improve on your walk with Him [Colossians 3:16];
  9. Control your thoughts and meditate on Philippians 4:6-8, especially verse 8; Isaiah 26:3;
  10. Know that with God’s intervention you can be healed [Philippians 4:13]. You can do it.
  11. Be good to yourself. It is up to the abuse concerning how she wants to life her life. Protection should be most important.

© 2022 Shekinah Theological College
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