When Love Turns Toxic: Finding Freedom From Emotional Abuse

Day 3 of 4 • This day’s reading


When it comes to destructive relationships, have you ever criticized yourself and thought, “I should have known better”? “Why didn’t I see that coming? Or “Why did I put up with his control, manipulation, addiction, abuse, adultery, or _______ (you fill in the blank)?”

Sometimes, our tolerance for emotional abuse or evil behavior is the result of misinterpreted scripture. When we don’t know and understand what God‘s Word says about confrontation and conflict resolution, we make ourselves vulnerable to control and manipulation. Have you trusted too soon? Failed to examine character? Did you fear that you were being judgmental so you believed his promises and ignored his performance? Did you give him chance after chance hoping he’d change this time only to discover that his apology was nothing more than smooth talk?

Scripture warns us not to let anyone deceive us with empty words. For a long time I thought that this verse only referred to deception regarding spiritual teaching, but what about the charming words manipulative men use to gain control? What about the empty words narcissistic men make hoping to convince their partner that they’re sorry for their actions and yet bear no fruit in keeping with repentance? Or how about when controlling men use scripture to manipulate or oppress?  

Paul tell us not to be partners with them...to have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Often women ignore or minimize their spouse or partner’s behavior hoping it will go away. Or they keep silent because they fear his wrath. Many of the women I coach have misunderstood the concept of submission and thought it meant they had no voice. No opinion. No right to confront. Instead, they've learned to:

• Go out of their way to make him happy

• Suppress their feelings and bury their anger

• Take the blame when something goes wrong

• Be peacekeepers instead of peacemakers

• Give up their identity for his approval

• Be overly concerned about what he thinks

• Agree with their partner (even if they don’t) as long as it keeps the peace

• Abuse mercy by overlooking too much

• Avoid confrontation

• Deny reality

• Cover up evil

Submission is a concept that has often been twisted to create control. Timothy talks about men who have a form of godliness but deny its power. He says this in chapter 3 verse 6: “They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women.” Women are trained by these manipulative partners to think that submission denies them the right to confront evil behavior.

If you’ve lost your voice, I have good news. With the help of God’s truth, you can get it back!