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Victims of verbal abuse experience a special kind of agony.  Though the abuse doesn’t leave physical bruises, it can be just as painful, and recovery can take much longer.  Generally, the abuser denies the abuse or blames it on the victim.  Friends and family may see the abuser as a “really nice guy.”  Without evidence of physical battering, victims can spend years in confusion, doubt, and frustration.  Though others may not understand the pain, the Bible gives voice to the victim’s feelings and pain, and to the betrayal felt when this kind of violence breaks marriage vows to honor, protect, and cherish:

For wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues.  With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.  In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.  They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.  I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust.  I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads.   (Psalm 109:2-5, 22-23,25  NIV)

Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught at the voice of the enemy, at the stares of the wicked; for they bring down suffering upon me and revile me in their anger.  Destructive forces are at work in the city; threats and lies never leave its streets.  If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him.  But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God.  My companion attacks his friends; he violates his covenant.  His speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing than oil, yet they are drawn swords.    (Psalm 55:1-3,11-14,20-21, NIV)

Jesus underscored the seriousness of verbal abuse by comparing it to murder:

"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.”   (Matt 5:21-22, NIV)

As we can see from this scripture, verbal abuse is sin, as are all forms of domestic violence. The Bible refers to verbal abusers as “revilers” and “slanderers”:

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