Healing the Wounds of Emotional Abuse
There comes a critical time in each person’s life when the truth is accessible. Faced with it, you can either run and hide, denying it, or you can face your truth, accept it, and grow stronger,” wrote Gregory Jantz in Healing the Scars of Emotional Abuse.1
If you are reading this article, chances are you or someone you love is in an emotionally abusive relationship. Your abuser may be a spouse, a boss, a brother or a sister. You may have tried to ignore it, deny it and fix it. Perhaps you have even tried to accept it. But it hasn’t worked. This is your moment of truth. Are you willing to do what it takes to break the cycle of abuse in your life?
While the optimum situation is for both parties in an abusive situation to seek help, Dr. Tim Clinton, President of the American Association of Christian Counselors, insists one person can change the relationship.
“Change a person; change a relationship,” he says.
On the other hand, if the abuse is severe and occurring within the marriage relationship, it’s time to take bold steps and assert biblical, healthy boundaries.
Before applying these principles to your situation, it’s best to seek help from a trained professional.
- Tell yourself the truth. Denial is a hallmark of abuse. Invite the Holy Spirit to reveal the reality about a potentially abusive relationship. Admit you are being abused and recognize the damage it has done.
- Seek professional help and guidance. There is no one-size-fits-all prescription for healing. You need a trained professional to assess your situation and your safety, to help you deal with emotional baggage from the past and to help you develop a strategy for change. Healing is a lengthy and sometimes difficult journey fraught with emotional landmines. You’ll need help and professional guidance to walk through potentially explosive and destructive situations.
- Set appropriate boundaries. In the excellent book, Boundaries—When to Say Yes, When to Say No to Take Control of Your Life, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, explain how and when to set appropriate, biblical boundaries. However appropriate, set boundaries with caution; it may escalate the abuse. Experts recommend seeking professional help to guide and encourage you.
- Find and maintain healthy relationships. It is critical to seek support from friends, family, and, ideally, your church.