What Does the Bible Say About Emotional Abuse? 18 Verses About Domestic Violence


“I knew that God loved me, but I couldn’t figure out why those I sought help from didn’t treat me as He did. They told me God had called me, as a wife, to suffer, and it was my job to suffer well. It was confusing because the character of God isn’t that of a cruel, heartless punisher.”

“One hard question I really struggle with is how do I really believe God loves me? I grew up in an abusive home and ended up with an emotionally abusive husband. I feel like I was set up to fail, like I never even had a chance. I have such a hard time reconciling God’s love with putting so many of us wives in these situations pretty much from day one. We are primed to be abused by abusive husbands. It doesn’t feel like love to me.”

~Quotes from Emotional Abuse Survivors

18 Bible Verses About God’s Reaction to Emotionally & Physically Abusive Husbands

Many Christians believe God condones some kinds of abuse in a husband-wife relationship. Everyone seems to have their own standards for what constitutes abuse, and they also have their own ideas about how the various types of abuse fit into their personal theology.

And every single one firmly believes his particular opinion about domestic abuse is the absolute truth, and anyone who disagrees, especially an abuse survivor, is wrong and deserves to be shunned.

Of course, most of them haven’t even studied the subject. They just buy into the propaganda fed to them by teachers who believe in a historically pagan, power-over structure of human husband/wife relationships. It’s fascinating and tragic.

An abuse victim’s pastor and Christian friends not only minimize what she is going through (as if they know), but they also callously lecture her about how God wants her to glorify Him through her suffering as a wife.

What kind of a god requires the suffering of women and children in order to be glorified?

Moloch, maybe. Baal, maybe. But not Jehovah God. He is not a sadistic, pagan god, and I believe what will glorify Him most is to expose misogynistic lies and teach the truth about abuse.

Contrary to the propaganda we’ve been taught, God doesn’t set women up to be abused as children and then as wives. God doesn’t perpetrate abuse on human beings. Human beings do that all on their own.

God also doesn’t control people. He let Adam and Eve choose, and He has let every human ever since choose. People sin, and they do horrible things to other people. We see the effects of this on a global scale.

What God promises is to love us, to be with us, to assist us in our efforts to overcome the effects of sin here on earth, and to one day set us free for all eternity.

Every effort we make to tell the truth, pray the truth, live the truth, and put our hope and trust in our Creator, advances His Kingdom a little bit further on this earth.

When we take a stand against abuse, whether it is abuse in our own life or in the lives of others, we are working on His behalf and for His glory.

Here’s what God really thinks when “Christian” husbands abuse their wives:

1. God hates abuse.

There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Interestingly enough, Christians love to say “God hates divorce,” even claiming that “a divorced woman commits adultery,” and they will forbid a domestic violence victim from getting legal protection from her abusive husband and even excommunicate her if she doesn’t obey them.

But they won’t do a thing about abuse even though God clearly hates it just as much

Here’s an idea: as long as we are getting radical about the things God hates, why not get radical about dealing with abuse? If God hates abuse, why are they not supporting the victim in helping her acquire legal protection and excommunicating her abuser?

One reason: Misogyny is an epidemic in our churches.

2. God says an abuser is a fraud, and his religion is worthless. These are wolves in sheep’s clothing, and they are dangerous.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.” (James 1:26)

I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren.” (2 Corinthians 11:26)

But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.” (Galatians 2:4)

Where you have patriarchal systems of power that support uneven power dynamics in the husband/wife relationship based on gender and also set up economic and interpersonal power and control of men over women, you will not find the love and freedom Jesus Christ came to establish in the hearts of both men and women.

I have seen false brethren at work in churches, stripping wives of their basic human rights and calling them “sinners” if they dare to protest. These are not godly Christ-followers. These are wolves.

Give them no credibility, for they have none in the eyes of God.

3. God says abusers are an abomination.

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.” Proverbs 17:15

Abusive men and churches justify the wicked and condemn the righteous when they support abusers and condemn victims. This is an abomination to God.

4. God says verbal abuse harms people and carries the power of death.

“…the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20)

Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, ‘I am only joking!’” (Proverbs 26:18)

Religious people will say it’s no big deal that a wife should have to suffer emotional abuse, gaslighting, lies, betrayal, and smear campaigns. God says it’s a matter of life and death.

What Does the Bible Say About Emotional Abuse? 18 Verses about Domestic Violence

5. God says emotional abuse is a heavy burden to bear up under.

A stone is heavy, and sand is weighty, but a fool’s provocation is heavier than both.” (Proverbs 27:3)

A man’s spirit will endure sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?” (Proverbs 18:14)

A wife may get no compassion or understanding from religious people, but her Creator and Savior sees and validates the heaviness of it and how it crushes her soul.

6. God has hard words for abusers who damage their children in different ways.

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

How many emotionally abusive fathers create a chaotic, confusing, hypocritical environment for their children to grow up in, causing those children to want nothing to do with their father’s God?

This is perhaps the most devastating result of covert abuse for the wife and mother. Especially when it is endorsed by the church. God will not be mocked.

7. God says verbal abuse (emotional abuse) is the equivalent of being gutted with a knife.

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (Proverbs 12:18)

My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords.” (Psalm 55:20-21)

Many wives are told that emotional abuse isn’t really abuse. People who haven’t experienced emotional abuse will ignorantly claim that real abuse is being beaten, and you have to beaten a lot for it to be serious enough to justify legal protection through a divorce. Even then, they encourage the wife to forgive and suffer.

But emotional abuse? No biggie to them. And it’s certainly not something to even consider leaving your husband over.

But you need to know that God doesn’t see it that way. He knows what emotional abuse does to your body, mind, and spirit, and He sees the seriousness of what you’re going through. God does not view this as “no big deal.”

Unlike those who refuse to believe you or understand what it is like to live in an abusive environment every day, the Bible tells us that Jesus understands perfectly and takes what is happening to you seriously.

Here’s just a taste of the kind of emotional abuse Jesus endured on our behalf, and I hope this helps you realize how much compassion Jesus has for you:

☑️ Pious Jews and Pharisees accused Jesus of working for the devil.

The Jews answered him, ‘Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?’” (John 8:48)

But some of them said, ‘He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,’” (Luke 11:15)

Have you been told you aren’t a Christian? Or that you are on the side of the devil? Or that you will go to hell unless you submit and obey your authorities?

Jesus can relate.

☑️ They mocked Jesus when He told the Pharisees they couldn’t serve two masters.

The Pharisees, who were lovers of money…ridiculed him.” (Luke 16:14)

Has your husband made fun of you when you’ve confronted him about his abusive behavior? Have you elders or church friends laughed behind your back when you have stood up for yourself in any way?

Jesus can relate.

☑️ They tried to provoke Jesus and trip Him up.

As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.” (Luke 11:53-54)

Have you experienced interrogation at the hands of your Bible counselor, pastor’s wife, church friends, or husband when you’ve come forward to disclose abuse?

Jesus can relate.

What Does the Bible Say About Emotional Abuse? 18 Verses about Domestic Violence

☑️ They denied their abuse and shifted the blame.

Jesus said “Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” The crowd answered, ‘You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?’” (John 7:19-20)

Have you been gaslit by a crowd of self-righteous people who have no compassion or understanding?

Jesus can relate.

Valerie Jacobsen writes:

“Our lives here on earth depend on a mysterious union between our fallen souls and our fallen bodies. The old Gnostics did not see us as fallen, body and soul. They believed that we have souls, which are glorious and cannot be harmed, and bodies that are damaged, unworthy, and easily broken. Many teachers still reproduce those ideas when they teach that only physical abuse is real abuse, that only physical abuse should be escaped.

But God’s heart is always for us, whenever we are being harmed, whether spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, mentally, or physically. He sees us and knows that it is impossible for us to gauge the severity and the effects of abuse but looking over the surface of our bodies, by looking for bruises to count, or by using x-rays to check for broken bones.

He sees that our souls ache from pain. He sees that emotional abuse and psychological torture do measurable harm to our brains and endocrine systems. He knows that PTSD is more painful and harder to treat than some bruises or a broken nose. He sees true suffering wherever it is, and when He sees it in us, He views it with compassion.

Whatever his weapons, an abuser attacks the image of God and wars against the creator. An abuser cannot imagine what God sees—that we were never created chiefly to please them, to bear children and keep houses for them, or to work for their provision. God has declared that our central purpose is to be His, to be faithful to Him, and to worship Him.

When an abuser attacks the believing child of the living God, he seeks to divide us from our Savior, to cause us (as Job’s wife said) to curse God, give up hope, and die. In this, an abuser is ignoring that we are beloved by God, that we have been redeemed at great cost, and he openly wars against God, shaking his fist in God’s face, demanding to have us, use us, consume us, and destroy us.

As an abuser attacks, insults, and controls, God sees and knows that he is stealing our liberty and our peace. God sees that his sacred commitment to love, to honor, and protect us are being violated. God sees as the abuser willfully defies God as Lawgiver, seeking to become a Law unto himself.

And God sees us, His precious ones, when we suffer. God sees our abuse as it is, when our lives have become battlegrounds with real suffering and the risk of real casualties. He stands with us, and He walks with us while persecution takes its secret, underhanded forms in the most hidden places of our homes.

Make no mistake. God sees His friends who love Him and trust in Him, repenting of our sins. And He also sees our abusers (especially our religious abusers) as His enemies, as enemies of the truth, and as enemies of the Gospel. He sees the heart of malevolence that craves an innocent victim and intends to cause injury.

He knows that evil gives very little advance warning, but He taught us to identify the one who is deceitful, destructive, malicious, and malevolent, and He taught us to protect ourselves and others from harm and danger.

It is He who is calling us to see our condition, even when our hearts are aching with desire that what is true might not be true. It is He who is opening our eyes and calling us to reflect His image by speaking and living in the truth. It is He who gives us the courage to say, “Thy will be done” in the unexpected and unwanted, when we must flee from indignity and cruelty, when we must undertake an honest and biblical mission where we can find our liberty and safe place to stand firm before Him.

As the ones who will live with the consequences for ourselves and our children, we are the ones who are given wisdom and strength and called to action. Our pain and distress in abuse also causes us to work with God as He cleanses families, churches, and communities from evil and creates places of real peace and safety for us. It is He who has taught us that no wolf in sheep’s clothing must ever be tolerated or enabled, that each must be removed from any place where he is determined to cause harm.

And it is He who taught us to report criminal wolves to the police, without hesitation or pity, and to speak the whole truth about them to investigators and in court. (Leviticus 5:1)

As victims of abuse, it is easy to become entangled in a hopeless quest of trying to fix an abuser, help him, and cure him–but we could as easily raise the dead! There is only one Savior. We cannot save ourselves by our own good works, and we will never be wise or righteous enough to save our abusers.

We must submit to God who is Almighty—who is more than able both to protect us from evil and to do whatever He pleases with evildoers. We must come to Him as our good father who always has another chapter for our stories and who gives us the courage and strength to close and bar the door against evil.

While it’s true that abuse is an opportunity to love an enemy, biblical love does not collude with an evildoer or keep him comfortable while he is on a quest to harm us, to harm others, or to destroy his own soul. Biblical love for an enemy provides what enemies require most, including accountability and justice. Biblical love avoids vengeance, seeks justice, and trusts God with every outcome, whether we are taking flight or appealing to courts for justice.

As we stand firm against evil, we can pray that God will enable us to grow in grace, to see our weaknesses and errors, and to learn what it means to love others well and truly. With abuse, it is often many years that we spend trying to support the dysfunction, hoping that we can make it better or at least make it tolerable.

Our awakening is often very gradual as God teaches us to see clearly and weans us from our initial expectation, that we made our wedding vows as the beginning of healthy love and biblical marriage. In our awakening, we can continually remind ourselves that God is faithful to teach us that what we see is real, what we hear is being said, what we remember really happened, and that what we know is true.”

This article is a small section taken from my book, Is It Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage.


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    This so blessed me!!! I’ve always thought God must be ok with the verbal and emotional abuse I’ve experienced by parents and this person I married. He just took over from where my parents left off. I used to think I must need to be treated this way. God must be saying “it’s ok, you are saved and that’s all you are gonna get.” This writing has so changed my view of how God feels about what has been going on all my life. Kids are grown and on their own. I’m not sure I will ever be able to get out of this disaster of a marriage. He needed to be hero so there is still some debt and many home improvements needed on house before it could be sold. I can see him using credit for that as well.

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      I’m so sorry to hear that Robin.
      Have you ever looked for counseling yourself? We cannot change other people, but we have the right to protect ourselves and our children.

      If you ever want to talk I’m here to hear you. I have a testimony to tell.
      I’m a Pastor and God disapproves abuse and violence . He loves us and wants for us to know that we are accepted and loved.
      Nowhere in the Bible you will find God tolerating these behaviors.
      Is time for you to stand up in prayer and for these demons in your husband and home to be cast out in Jesus name.

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      I will be praying for you and for God to guide you as you seek him on what your next step should be. Something that God has really laid on my own personal heart you as I choose to stay here it is enabling him to have zero conviction or consequence for his actions of sin, when we have zero consequence from send our heart hardens more.
      I have definitely shown doubt and unfaithfulness of worrying how well, my son with special needs to be taken care of or where will I even get a job because I was never allowed to work as well as finish school after we got married. I signed an absolutely ridiculous prenup, because just like you, I was taught from day one that I had no value. If I truly trust in God, then why am I so worried about being able to provide for my son and I. It’s going to be hard I know it’s gonna be rough. Absolutely I have no doubt about that however, God will get the glory and I believe without a doubt, he will be with me, providing and what I need.
      My biggest one is for my oldest son, who I have had many conversations with in a way of being loving as well as telling him the truth about my husband’s actions. I want the cycle to break with him choosing or behaving in that manner. If I stay with my husband then I’m letting my son know it’s really not that big of a deal if he treats his wife that way or is treated that way. And these are just things I wish I would’ve allowed my heart to really see a few years ago when I had the courage to finally confront him with his abuse, but definitely did it in the wrong manner, and make things a lot harder for him to actually here.

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    I’m desperately searching for answers. Am I sinning against God if I am unable to be intimate with my emotionally abusive husband? There is nothing physically wrong with me, but I am just too emotionally broken to even have or want intimacy. The times we are I feel disgusted with myself. I was sexually abused by my father at a very young age and that has damaged my view of love and sex. My husband and I have been together for 25 years (married for 16 years). The reason we married is because I found Christ and no longer wanted to live in sin. Back to my question about sinning against God. I have been telling my husband for years now how emotionally broken I have become due to our marriage problems and something has to change in our marriage. I suffer from depression and anxiety. My anxiety is horrible most of the time when my husband is around and that’s typical of when he’s just angry with me. He will ignore me for days. He blames me for everything. He says the reason he is always angry is because of me. I question my sanity a lot of times and question whether or not I am the reason for the problems we have. My husband rarely apologizes for his behavior. He has screamed at me numerous times. Has yelled and swore at me in front of others. He gets angry if I even say no to sex and will say mean things to me then ignore me for days and then expect sex like nothing has happened. I feel like I’m not allowed to say no at all and most of the time I will be intimate just to keep the peace. He has done things to me during intimacy that I don’t like and if I tell him I don’t like it he gets angry and says I complain about everything he does. There was a time when I gave in to a request to try something new and afterwards he said “now I know you love me.” There’s just a lot of gaslighting and blame shifting, anger amongst other things. Now I am not free of any fault. I have had my share of yelling and cursing at him. Saying cruel things back. Even before our marriage there was infidelity on both sides so I am by no means innocent or free of guilt. I have asked him to go to marriage counseling and he refuses. He has drew the line in the sand with that. Although he did tell me the other day that if I do something sexual for him that he will agree to counseling. What he is asking for is something I don’t want to do. It has gotten to the point where I cry during intimacy. Bottom line is I’m just not allowed to say no to sex. Never have been without there being any consequences. I have even stopped telling my husband I love him. I do love him, but I’m just so emotionally broken and do not feel safe with telling or sharing things with him. Not due to any physical abuse. Just all emotional. We do have 4 children. Two adult children and two younger ones (one who is special needs). I have been a stay at home mom and I homeschool my two youngest. I have no money. I’m so afraid that I’m sinning against God and dishonoring Him by not wanting intimacy with my husband. I cry more than I smile and my children have seen me cry too many times. I want to be a strong Godly mother, but even feel I’m failing at that. Again my fear is that I’m sinning against God and I fear that when I finally see Jesus he will say “I do not know you.”

    • Natalie Hoffman

      The god you are describing sounds like a tyrant. An abuser. I’d be terrified of that god too! Jesus Christ is not a God that we need to be scared of. Read the gospel of John – read it several times. Right now you have a belief that God is an abuser god. And when you believe that you feel terrified. And when you feel terrified in your body you shut down, cry, second guess yourself, don’t have healthy boundaries, yell, curse, and give up. And the result is that you live in a world of abuse. When our god is an abuser, we will swim in a toxic, abusive pond and believe it is normal. Your first challenge is to make a decision about who your god is. Is your god abusive? Or is He a powerful essence of LOVE that WINS in the end? Our lives reflect who we worship. (((hugs)))

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      Praying for you, Robin! I can relate to a lot of your story. I am so sorry you are going through this.

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      I am SOOO sorry! This broke my heart and I immediately prayed asking God to move for you and your children in a mighty way! I asked God to let you give your testimony to many women who are abused mentally or physically so that you may give them strength to get out of the situation. I asked that you do it all for the glory of God giving Him ALL the praise and that your children will also worship God throughout their lives! You are going to be ok! God is faithful and is always time! I, too, was in a physically and mentally abusive marriage for 13yrs but God saved me and my children as He will you. I love you my sister in Christ. Focus on God and pray even if you have to pray silently. He hears you. He knows what you need before you even ask. I wish I could keep in contact with you somehow. I want to lift my hands praising God when you say that you smile more than you cry. I pray that God takes every tear you’ve shed and turns them into blessings for you and your children. In JesusMighty Precious Name I Pray, Amen

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        Thank you! I really needed that. I would love to somehow get in contact.

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      I understand what you mean me and u are in the same boat my husband is the same way and I also feel like I’m failing God by putting up with it I don’t know what to do or how to go about it cause I’ve always been told and have read that God doesn’t except divorce unless it’s for cheating I love my husband but I’m overwhelmed with all the mental abuse and believe me I’m not innocent by no means I’ve came at my husband the ways he’s came at me and i know it’s not right I feel like I’ve sinned against God to I don’t want this marriage anymore we been married 12 years and together almost 14 years like I said I love my husband but I just can’t take it anymore anyway I just wanted to let you know I’m here if you want to talk my name is Cindy

      • Natalie Hoffman

        Hi Cindy, be sure to jump on my mailing list, and I’ll send you a free chapter of my book, Is It Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage – along with the first chapter of the companion workbook. You can also take the emotional abuse quiz by going to emotionalabusequiz.com

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        Hi Cindy, thank you for your response and I would love to talk sometime. It helps having people who understand what your going through.

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    Thank you for your strong voice and clarity. This ministered to my heart. I lived in an abusive marriage for many years before getting free. I was raised by an abusive father. I was brought up in churches that perpetuated the ‘forgive Him’ and ‘stay at all costs.’ Such damaging advice. I want to read more.

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    It is both heartening and discouraging to read this! I am in the middle of all these realizations. Emotional and Verbal abuse is the worst, and it is compounded by an eldership that has done nothing despite my coming to them. In fact, they have started having him teach bible classes and leading the Lord’s table. People KNOW what is happening that are in authority in our congregation but they have done nothing. I feel alone and confused and anxiety ridden every day but somehow I do what I can to make money and try to go on.

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        Totally agreed

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        My name is Cindy I’m in a verbally abusive marriage like I believe Robin said I got married cause I found God an didn’t want to live in sin anymore.the first 5 yrs was gd I guess u can say but then after that I got addicted to pain pills and I’ve been doing my best to get off of them my husband says he’s trying to help me but all he does is ridicule me mentally abuse me constantly about it even before I got hooked to pain killers he was mentally abusive my husband’s father was like that with his mother his hole life and he just went with it I feel like I’m failing God by putting up with it I’ve prayed about it and prayed for him and continued to pray for him I mean I’m not innocent I’ve came back at him like he came at me and I know it’s not right I just don’t know what to do I don’t want this marriage anymore

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    There’s a way to gauge whose “side” God is on when domestic abuse is happening….picture your own earthly father (if he’s a loving father) entering your home WHILE your husband is physically beating you, or verbally assaulting you with demeaning and harmful words, and just standing there without lifting a finger to protect and defend you. A loving Dad would NEVER do that. Nor would he make you just take it. And he wouldn’t start preaching at you telling you to submit to the abuse and stay in a marriage where you get beaten up everyday by the man you’re married to. No, IF he’s a loving father, he would NOT do that, he’d help you get your things together and insist you get OUT, away from the danger, not only to your life, but also to your sanity. Now picture it’s not your Dad, but your Savior and Heavenly Father standing there watching you getting abused, and the only thing He tells you is to stay and keep getting abused, since your husband is the head, after all, you must submit even when he uses that authority for evil. If you feel that way you are accusing God of being LESS loving and concerned than your earthly Dad, who is only human no matter how loving he is. Sure, God hates divorce. In a perfect world there would be no divorce, no war, no trouble. But this is not a perfect world. Do we think God hates divorce MORE than he hates abuse, especially if it’s ongoing? Since when does God say it’s alright for someone to bully another person? He says those in any position of authority should not lord it over those under his command. He also says if a man (or woman) commits adultery that’s justifiable grounds for divorce. That’s because the adulterous spouse broke the marriage vows so you are no longer obligated to remain in the marriage. If counseling can help then by all means get it, and forgive the offense if the offender truly repents, but if they say they’re sorry and keep doing it anyway LET THEM GO! Abuse in a marriage is breaking marriage vows also, whether or not infidelity is committed through adultery. Read the traditional marriage vows and see for yourself. Women, obey your husbands, but God intended that to be in marriages where the husband is doing what he’s supposed to do and be what God intended. When he’s not, it’s he that broke the vows. Women loved by their husbands have no trouble submitting to them. It’s like the scripture that says “spare the rod and spoil the child “, God expects people to have enough common sense to know that DOES NOT mean abuse the child or beat them mercilessly for even the slightest infraction. A spanking done Gods way is NOT a beating. It’s done with intention of showing a child how to behave, and isn’t pleasant, but neither should it be abusive or harsh. God also said “fathers, do not exasperate your children”, which breaks their spirit, not just their will. We see the results of whole generations of children that ruled the roost, were indulged in every way, and were never spanked, OR others that were overly, harshly “spanked” (beaten) to the point of abuse, and neither one has brought good results. And neither way was GODS way OR His intentions….
    Many men are on their BEST behavior during courtship and dating, and can charm women into believing they’d make the ideal spouse. But once the honeymoon is over, that’s when they show their true colors. That’s why much prayer should go into every relationship that might lead to marriage. Only God knows a persons heart. It would be better to not be married than to be married to the wrong person, especially an abusive one. But if you find yourself in an abusive marriage, after you thought for sure you’d picked the right spouse and realize now that person is abusive, ask God what to do before taking any drastic steps. Don’t go to your pastor unless God tells you to, because many are notorious for telling women to stop complaining and go home and submit to their husbands and everything will turn out fine. The man gets off scot free, as far as the leadership of the church is concerned.…The thing is God can and often does change people but if the person is unwilling to fully submit to God they do have free will and might never change. Even many pastors wives tell abused wives that confide in them they should stay with their husband, even in an unsafe environment. If a truly loving parent wouldn’t tell his daughter that, then why do we think our Heavenly Father would tell His daughters to stay in an ongoing abusive environment, and do nothing to help her get away? And what about children that witness that every day and live in fear? They constantly worry that Mom will die at the hands of their father. They cry themselves to sleep over the constant shouting, hitting, and arguing…In some cases even divorce is healthier for the child, the lesser of two evils. God can and will help a Mom and wife forced to leave an abusive marriage. It won’t be easy but with the help of a trusted confidant, someone who helps her through consistent prayer on her behalf, it will make it easier. Ask God for someone you can trust to be your prayer partner through the whole ordeal. I’m not in an abusive marriage and never have been but I’ve had several women confide in me who were in those situations. Better to raise a child in a peaceful home where they’re not constantly on edge or fearing for their life, or their parents life, than staying together, no matter what, for the “sake of the children“…..Ask God to lead you and He will. There are plenty of bad reasons to divorce a spouse when there’s no abuse or infidelity, such as not “feeling” in love with them anymore, or just not being attracted to them anymore, those are not valid, since God can put that spark into your marriage and it can get better than ever through prayer, but there are reasons that divorce could be in order when one partner IS trying and the other continues to be unfaithful or abusive and never changes, and never bends to Gods will.

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      One thing I like about Jesus is that his tirades against the Pharisees were often over his concern and love for people. Things like:

      “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matthew 23:13) and

      “They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23:4).

      And yes, people do have free will. If God will allow people the freedom to accept or reject Him when the consequences are eternal, why would he interfere with free will to save every marriage? God can accomplish anything when someone is willing but He doesn’t force them to be willing.

      I’d also like to point out that Malachi 2 is stated to a specific audience. These men had some recourse if they were dealing with a wife who had committed adultery. Had she been caught by witnesses, she could have been stoned making him a widower. If she was suspected but not caught, her husband could choose to subject her to the trial of bitter water (Numbers 5). If she was innocent, no harm would come to her, but a guilty adulteress experienced consequences from God. In those days, men didn’t live in a culture where they feared arrest for defending themselves against physical violence by a wife. So, I doubt these men were abused. They could even take a second Jewish wife as long as they continued providing food, housing and conjugal rights to the first. They apparently did not want to provide this support so they divorced their wives when marrying pagan women. God mentions the treachery against the wife of their youth and His desire that there be godly children from the union. So, God is concerned about the wife and children who are coldly dumped here. Also, some have made arguments that the “For I hate divorce” is an inaccurate translation. Some Bible translations do not translate it that way.

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    The thing I wonder is why there’s never a sermon (in my church at least) from the pulpit about men NOT abusing their wife, in any form. You might hear it as a sentiment but not as a full sermon even though in every congregation there’s likely to be wife abusers, in large and even some small churches. They start to feel justified because, after all, if it was such a big deal, SURELY there’d be something said about it from the pulpit at least occasionally. Unfortunately that’s not true. It IS a big deal, preached or not, and I’m not sure many preachers are convinced of that, since they often counsel battered women to submit and stay, even if her life is in danger. My own husband is a wonderful man, and thank God he treats me well. He doesn’t go to church every Sunday but he DOES treat me well at home where it counts. I’d love him to come to church more often, but would I trade that for a husband who came to church every time the doors opened but was a terror at home? Not on your life!! . An acquaintance at church confided in me that her husband (they’ve divorced since then) was jealous over everything and had become more violent, even smashing to pieces the beautiful heirloom piece her Mom had left her in her will. It was the only thing her Mom had
    left her since there were 7 siblings in the family. Yet this husband was always doing favors (handyman things) for the pastor, for free, in order to make himself look good at church. He was in church every time the doors were opened. All the while mistreating his wife at home over things he imagined, that she wasn’t even doing. I even saw with my eyes the results of those tantrums when I pulled into her driveway and saw the hundreds of smashed up pieces of the beautiful cabinet and porcelain bird collection it held, at the curb waiting for the garbage truck to take it away. I’d felt something was wrong the evening before so called her to see how she was and she asked me to visit and have coffee the next morning. That’s when she confided what had happened the night before, apparently at the same time I’d started feeling something was wrong at her house. And it wasn’t the only despicable thing he’d ever done. That was her prized possession since she missed her Mom so much and it’s all she had left from her. It was intended to be passed down to her own daughter someday. He chose that piece to destroy knowing how much it meant to her. Where are the pastors who discern these things that are going on right under their noses in the congregation? In the meantime those abusive husbands think they have a “right” to mistreat their wives because after all, they’re “good men doing good things for the church” according to their pastors who say so by what they DON’T say on Sundays. Doing nice things at church doesn’t mean a thing to God…he’s not impressed like men are. What a man does at HOME behind closed doors is what He sees and cares about most. Who a man is in private is who a man TRULY is (Same for a woman) Wives get beat up or verbally assaulted on Saturday by husbands that serve at church on Sunday (usher, greeter, even pastor) and the entire congregation applauds them. If there was more preaching on the evils of domestic abuse maybe some of those abusive men would learn how NOT to treat their wives (and in some cases their children)…it seems common sense might kick in and they would know that even without a sermon, but at least they would know that if they do those things they can’t expect to come to church and be a hypocrite and get patted on the back by fellow parishioners or leaders, by living a double life. There should be men groups in EVERY church where men can be absolutely transparent and ask for prayer if they are struggling with the issue, but if they don’t change and stop abusing they should be dealt with harshly. Women (and children) suffer every day behind closed doors hoping someone will take it seriously enough to intervene; when they finally get up the nerve to tell the pastor they are belittled for not being the submissive wife who obeys her husband in everything, even being beaten or verbally abused everyday. (Or worse having to watch their child being abused but that could be at the hands of the father OR the mother, and is just as evil) No wife will falsely accuse a husband who truly loves her and treats her and the children right. If someone tells you they’re being beaten, controlled, or berated every single day by an abusive spouse, believe them. A woman who knows she’s loved by her husband will be secure in her marriage and there would be no reason to make up such an accusation. Just like a child who is loved and treasured by a parent would not falsely accuse a loving parent of abuse. If that ever happens that would be very rare and should be dealt with accordingly. But it’s time for this to be taken seriously. It’s a SIN, AND a CRIME, and needs to be taken more seriously than it has been. Once the woman is dead at the hands of her (often churchgoing) husband, it’s too late!! Same for a child being abused in any way by a parent or guardian. …We must truly LISTEN to them….

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      Emotional abuser often lack empathy and cannot put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They are so self-focused that they are constantly trying to get their internal needs met no matter the harm they cause. They emotionally cannot understand things from their victim’s point of view. And even if they are able to intellectually see it, without empathy and mature emotions, they cannot “feel” the hurt they’ve caused. They are often empty and vacant individuals who are capable of only acting like a neuro-typicals in public. (And untrained Christians who slap Bible verses onto victims who are seeking understanding are misusing God’s words. The dumping of Bible verse is a veiled attempt to show their Biblical superiority rather than doing the hard work of gaining true knowledge that would help the victim.) Abusers seldom recognize, much less agree, that their behaviors are indeed “abuse”. Even when it’s pretty clearly spelled out. Those with covert narcissistic tendencies are the worst. In fact, no matter the lessons a well-meaning but possibly misguided pastor will try to convey, abusers will either have deaf ears or will twist it and use it as an emotional noose on their victims.

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    I am beyond grateful that a quick google search led me here. I have felt crazy, alone and unloving about my situation. In my heart I knew it was abuse but never heard that from a pulpit. In fact it was so more, please him in this way. Thank you for this. I feel like I can breathe today.

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      Amen I have been dealing with this for years and this article is not exactly what I needed to read. Coming from a google search

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      Wow. This has put into words my journey for the past 6 months of God working in me to recognize and start to heal from 22 years of emotional, verbal, and deep spiritual abuse. I met my husband when I was 15 and we married when I was 22. I have lived decades and during my teenage years when I was developing my self identity at the hands of his and his familys emotional and spiritual abuse and dysfunction. And by the wonderful grace of God, He took me from a place of complete brokeness from the abuse and is bringing me out of the pit. And He led me here and is teaching me through this community and the coaches and hard work to live free in His grace and love. He is revealing the truth as He shows me a way out for me and my children. And my healing is just beginning and I thank you for allowing God to work through you and helping us overcome so much abuse that is hidden, secret, devastating and pervasive in his family for generations. I will read this again and again and soak up the Truth of Christ in these Scriptures.

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      I agree same hete.I am in a verbally abusive marriage.My husband acted like a christian until we got married.Then i became his possesion.I ask God to forgive me for marrying him.But now what do i do???

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        You start by making a plan, save money secretly until you have enough saved up for a lawyers retainer and if you can’t move in with someone then save up for renting a small place or someone who needs a room mate, this might take you months or even yrs. but once you start planning and saving, it will give you so much motivation and hope of a brighter future of living in peace on your own away from the abuse one day. You will be excited each day because you KNOW there is a light at the end of the tunnel! Gray rock and yellow rock while still living with ur abuser to stay as safe as possible and do NOT let on that you are saving money or that you are planning to leave him. Fake it, tell you make it out!

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    I am blessed to find your website. Thank you!

    I would only say that the legal system offers no protections nor relief. In fact, the courts enable and empower the abuser. In almost all cases, the abuser harnesses litigation like their most blunt instrument of complete annihilation towards their former spouse, engaging in scorched earth tactics. Malicious custody battles are launched and the narcissistic sociopathic abuser will go after destroying your kids as a means to destroy you. Their depravity knows no limits. In addition, the “professionals” that will get involved will cause more problems and gang up on the victim. It becomes a level of abuse that makes what went on in the marriage seem like it was easy, even when it was torture as well. I do not say this to discourage women leaving, nor am I against divorce. I believe that the divorce happens when the abuser breaks the marriage and the rest is just logistics. However, I would advise women to be very wise, discerning and deliberate about how to navigate the divorce process. Anything that can be done to stay far away from the cesspool known as family courts is critical.

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    Wow. This clear thinking is the balm of Gilead!!!!

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    I do wish this article had language concerning abusive wives and mothers also.
    Abusive mothers awareness is so sadly lacking.

    Thank you for this resource.
    Your words are profound.

    • Natalie Hoffman

      This blog is specifically for women of faith in destructive partner relationships. There are other resources for narcissistic abuse perpetuated by parents of both sexes. Check out Little Red Survivor. One of my favorite blogs.

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    Thank you! I agree with everything you say. Other Christians always encourage me to keep praying for and loving my abusive husband. I have done so for over 20 years. It’s the disrespect to our children that I can’t make peace with. I don’t know how I can ever really love him again. So I feel a constant sense of guilt over not wanting to try to better our marriage and I cannot imagine a future with him. So I just cope day to day waiting for God to reveal a path that’s hopeful. I’ve read a lot of books so I don’t feel crazy anymore but I definitely feel hopeless.

    • Natalie Hoffman

      My upcoming book will perhaps help you see a way out. You live with a marriage wrecker – so you are right to feel hopeless as far as fixing your marriage. It takes two to build a marriage – and you are only one person. Not possible. Ask yourself where the guilt is coming from. The voices of others? Your own inner critic? Or is it the enemy? I promise you it isn’t God. He isn’t a God of confusion or lies or magical thinking. He is a God firmly rooted in reality – and He wants to walk with you and help you make choices for yourself based on your reality. Not based on the opinions of others. Consider joining my Flying Free group. I think that would also be extremely beneficial for you. (((Hugs)))

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    One very final comment about emotional abuse.. Matthew 22:37 we most love God by our whole heart, whole mind and whole soul. Comment : how can we when it’s taken from us our soul and mind? We can not serve God in that fragile state. That’s the very reason we have the power to call it quits. Simply as that!!!

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    Thank you for speaking up about abuse. And, you are right. I have PTSD from what I have been through. Please ask your followers to pray for me for healing. My name is Mary.

    God is a healer but the abuse takes a big toll on my personhood and it’s still years after I left. I have a lot of trust issues and anxiety. I see nownthatba lot of people are phony. I don’t even go to a Christian counselor because I went to one once and she was off of her rocker. I go to a secular counselor who at least validates me and has compassion.

    The church world hides it’s head In the sand on these issues. It’s not safe to even go there. You are validation g and helping a lot of people.



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    Thank you so much for this! It is a deep, deep comfort to hear someone declare God is for me. I just want to cry, except I don’t seem to have the ability any more. Just dried up inside.

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    Thank you for writing this. I am nearly 50 years old, I have believed in God all of my life despite chlldhood abuse and terrible difficulties in my life, until about 5 years ago and to my shame I have been so angry with God, wondering where He was in my life and why He was allowing all that I am still living. I have wanted to give up for so long and think of death as a release or somewhere to get some peace . . . I’m so tired !! But I have two young children still at home, no family to support me, no friends, no money. I am trapped. But the tears have flowed as I have read this to understand that He does not agree with what my husband is doing to me. He knows, He truly knows.

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      I felt like I was reading about my own life. I’ve suffered sexual abuse from my dad(I’ve forgiven him), severe mental and physical abuse from my mom, emotional abuse up to this day, raped 4 times and blamed for it all four times which led to my daughter taken away illegally by CPS because of lies told by my neighbors, held at gunpoint for four hours, I can go on my dear sister. I have severe trust issues and depression and PTSD. I in no way blame GOD because I know my savior Jesus knows exactly what I’m going through because he suffered much worse than I do
      And I know when I get home he will embrace me extra long time and will whisper in my ear your suffering is over and GOD will wipe the many tears from my eyes. I know he walked by my side every day of my life. I love the footprints in the sand and I know all my life he carried me and by the grace of God that he sent Robert into my life but he died 8 years ago and the emotional abuse has gotten far worse.

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      Dearest Ren, I just want to say, yes, God knows, He truly knows. I have been angry with Him too, and I now know that I can bring even that to Him, and He is not angry back. He can handle it. And He truly, truly, deeply loves you and cares for you.

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    YES!!!!!!!!! What will it take to change the climate in church about emotional abuse? How long with the men inside the church and leading the church continue to empathize with the abuser or just do absolutely nothing at all? How long with this type of abuse be PROTECTED by the church? I am so confused by this and am shocked by it. It’s like the men in the church think that they can change the abuser by gently loving them through this difficult time, (divorce time) meanwhile, my kids and I are left to start over all alone and hoping he doesn’t kill us in the middle of the night. I’m sure that sounds dramatic to anyone who hasn’t been in this position, but it probably rings true for people who have.

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    This is excellent. Thank you for your ministry and shining God’s light on this issue. Thank you for speaking the truth. I really needed to hear this today . . . still working towards my own freedom.

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    OMG. This article is awesome! I can’t tell you how encouraging this is to me!!! I am currently going through what feels like a LOOOOONG process of healing. Really it has only been 1-1/2 years since my narcissistic abuser “husband” left our marriage. This article is very encouraging. You are so amazingly anointed on teaching this subject, and I eagerly look forward to the release of your book. I have my highlighting pens ready!!!
    I so appreciate you Natalie. LOVE to you!!

    • Natalie Hoffman

      Thank you, Kristine – I’m so glad it was a dose of encouragement for you today!

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    You are truly helpful in my life. I love how our loving father sends me messages through you to guide me.



  1. Five Areas of Abuse, Without Lifting a Hand - JOURNEY - […] make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among…

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