It is difficult to not personalize verbal assaults and there are reasons why that is so.
Responding to verbal abuse requires a strong self-awareness. That is why it is not easy to deal with these attacks. This is the second in a series of three posts. In this post, you are encouraged to distinguish the different reactions between one’s body, soul and spirit.
- What is the initial reaction to cursing?
- What is the initial thinking when abused?
- What is the desire when abused?
The first question is a physical reaction. The initial instinct is to use your body to stop the abuse. The victim mirrors their abuser!
The second question is the mental reaction. The initial instinct is to reason with the abuser. Fact: you cannot reason with an abuser!
The third question is the spiritual reaction. Overt aggression is often answered by passive aggression. At this stage, the victim enables their own abuse!
The Book of Proverbs in the Bible has much to say about cursing. Through the related axioms, we can formulate strategies to handle verbal abuse.
1. Cursing is like the continual, unrelenting fall of rain (Proverbs 27:14-15). The apostle Peter masked his discipleship to Jesus by cursing (Matthew 26:74). He was covering bitterness and confusion.
- Curses have causes and are not accidental outbursts (Proverbs 26:2).
- Visualize the cursing as a mask hiding the abuser’s face.
- Consider what it is the abuser is hiding.
2. Cursing is difficult NOT to personalize (Proverbs 10:19). Why? Because 90% of a person’s 40,000 – 60,000 thoughts per day are negative! Verbal abuse profanes the sanctuary of our space.
- Visualize the workspace of the abuser as your personal home.
- How does it feel to have your personal space invaded by outside influence?
- There is a natural desire to protect your family. Apply this feeling to those around you. You affect them when you are affected by verbal abuse.
3. The most effective strategy is to diffuse a negative spirit by a positive spirit (Proverbs 27:17).
- Unasked for and unwanted thoughts need to be confronted.
- Calmly and firmly respond along the lines: “Stop making me feel unworthy.” or simply just, “Stop it!”
- Visualize each unwanted thought as being written on a paper. Now mentally burn that paper in fire. As the smoke ascends, visualize the negativity disappearing. This exercise is even more powerful when performed literally.
Prayer for Healing Victims of Abuse
God of endless love,
ever caring, ever strong,
always present, always just:
You gave your only Son
to save us by the blood of his cross.
Gentle Jesus, shepherd of peace,
join to your own suffering
the pain of all who have been hurt
in body, mind, and spirit
by those who betrayed the trust placed in them.
Hear our cries as we agonize
over the harm done to our brothers and sisters.
Breathe wisdom into our prayers,
soothe restless hearts with hope,
steady shaken spirits with faith:
Show us the way to justice and wholeness,
enlightened by truth and enfolded in your mercy.
Holy Spirit, comforter of hearts,
heal your people’s wounds
and transform our brokenness.
Grant us courage and wisdom, humility and grace,
so that we may act with justice
and find peace in you.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.
(The above prayer from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
Related Post: Verbal Abuse