Verbal & Emotional Abuse
I was listening to June Hunt on the radio the other evening, and what she described reminded me of Patricia Evans Book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, and together, these took me immediately to various videos of Mark’s sermons (especially the abusing abusers one) as well as to many accounts of those who write about having been directly harmed by him and the MH system.
June Hunt talked about the following:
NOTE: [my words in [brackets] ]
Abuse is basically to be mistreated.
Emotional abuse is any ongoing behavior used to control and manipulate another [or a group].
It damages the victim’s sense of dignity and wounds their spirit.
Pr 18:14, “A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness,
but a crushed spirit who can bear?
People who abuse are not healthy and whole, they are fear based.
Pr 12:18 “Reckless words pierce like a sword,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
[If Mark Driscoll is as verbally/emotionally abusive as he appears at times to be, especially in his stage presence and his alleged interactions with several members, then for those who know Mark up close and personal–perhaps the elders who were apparently unjustly fired because they dared to question him and his new By-Laws, perhaps his wife, Grace, and/or perhaps those who are his “friends” and subordinate pastors, etc… –some of this might fit when you think of Mark]:
Control, control, control. Overtly, and/or covertly. The Passive Aggressive Abuser emotionally and verbally abuses by using sarcasm, ignoring, giving the silent treatment. His tactics are invalidating, “I never said that. You’re perceptions are wrong.” He uses minimizing and countering. It doesn’t matter what the truth is. Truth is disregarded. What’s true is what he says is true, period. He gets you with the passive dagger. It’s all about his efforts to obtain and maintain control and he’ll do whatever it takes to get that. He is a master of manipulation.
June’s web site is:
[She seems to offer some good stuff. I have not yet read her books.]
The following comes from:
pulled 5/7/08, and is written by Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, www.probe.org
He acquires much of his information below from Patricia Evans book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, and from Bach and Deutsch’s, Stop! You’re Driving Me Crazy.
…Verbal abuse is a kind of battering which doesn’t leave evidence comparable to the bruises of physical battering. … Like any area of human action, [verbal/emotional abuse] begins in the mind and heart [of the abuser]. Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” What a person thinks in his mind and heart will be reflected in his words and actions.
… The victim of verbal abuse lives in a gradually more confusing realm. In public, the victim is with one person. While in private, the abuser may become a completely different person.
… A victim is often the target of angry outbursts, sarcasm, or cool indifference. The abuser’s reaction to these actions is frequently cloaked in a “What’s wrong with you?” attitude. She is accused of “making a mountain out of a molehill.” Over time she loses her balance and equilibrium and begins to wonder if she is the one who is crazy.
The key to healing is to recognize verbal abuse for what it is and to begin to take deliberate steps to stop it and bring healing. Since the abuser is usually in denial, the responsibility for recognizing verbal abuse often rests with the partner [or the parishioner].
Characteristics of Verbal Abuse
Now I would like to focus on some of the characteristics of verbal abuse as outlined in The Verbally Abusive Relationship.
1. Verbal abuse is hurtful and usually attacks the nature and abilities of the partner. Over time, the partner may begin to believe that there is something wrong with her or her abilities. She may come to feel that she is the problem, rather than her partner.
[Notice, it attacks the PERSON not their specific behavior. It is shame based. The purpose is to make you feel inferior and flawed, to increase your self-doubt. By de-stabilizing you, the abuser can more easily control you. Driscoll was attacking the people in his rant, not merely their behavior. He was shaming them.].
2. Verbal abuse may be overt (through angry outbursts and name- calling) or covert (involving very subtle comments, even something that approaches brainwashing). Overt verbal abuse is usually blaming and accusatory, and consequently confusing to the partner. Covert verbal abuse, which is hidden aggression, is even more confusing to the partner. Its aim is to control her without her knowing.
[Driscoll is becoming quite famous for his “angry outbursts and name calling.” He comes across as extremely accusatory and blaming. This is verbal/emotional abuse. Those who know him closely probably get a taste of the covert abuse.]
3. Verbal abuse is manipulative and controlling. Even disparaging comments may be voiced in an extremely sincere and concerned way. But the goal is to control and manipulate.
[In another clip, when Driscoll superficially apologizes for his pride and then quickly launches into his criticism about how proud the parishioners and “a couple of elders” in ‘his’ church are, he is being manipulative. When he squelches all dissent, he is being controlling. He apparently has no problem with tearing into his congregation, and then in the blink of an eye, going into this soft, compassionate voice and looking directly into the camera, face smoothed out of former disdainful expression, and saying something like, “It’s because I love you…”].
4. Verbal abuse is insidious. The partner’s self-esteem gradually diminishes, usually without her realizing it. She may consciously or unconsciously try to change her behavior so as not to upset the abuser.
[From the ex-Mars Hillians’ stories I have read, their self esteem seems to have been diminished by their experience at MH, and most of them seemed to have tried to alter their behavior to please and submit to Driscoll’s apparently legalistic system].
5. Verbal abuse is unpredictable. In fact, unpredictability is one of the most significant characteristics of verbal abuse. The partner is stunned, shocked, thrown off balance by her mate’s sarcasm, angry jab, put-down, or hurtful comment.
[At the beginning of the ranting clip against abusers, Driscoll was talking in a somewhat normal tone, when all of a sudden he takes in a breath, (I found myself instinctively holding mine), he then spews out in high volume, “How dare you?! Who the hell do you think you are?! …” and proceeds with what appears to be his own abusive rage (and most definitely NOT the Holy Spirit as Mark claims it to be). It was unpredictable and shocking. When he goes into his tirade of the abusers ‘out there’ not being God, not being men, etc… and calls them “little boys” who need to man up before they love a woman, he is dripping with disdain and sarcasm. Mark yells in the face of his audience, “You change now, little boy–You change right now. You shut up. You put your pants on. You get a job. You grow up.” This is simply unadulterated verbal/emotional abuse].
6. Verbal abuse is not a side issue. It is the issue in the relationship. When a couple is having an argument about a real issue, the issue can be resolved. In a verbally abusive relationship, there is no specific conflict. The issue is the abuse and this issue is not resolved. There is no closure.
[How could one ever get closure on much of anything when dealing with a verbal/emotional abuser who insists they are always right and you are always wrong, one who fights dirty and will shame, blame, block, divert, minimize, withhold, threaten, etc., at a moment’s notice in order to win, no matter what? The issue in relating with such a person is the abuse and that cannot be resolved until he comes out of his denial and seeks help. This is rarely accomplished unless the abuser’s entire world crashes through and he is bereft of subjects over whom he might exert control… but, alas, even then, change is real iffy].
7. Verbal abuse expresses a double message. There is incongruence between the way the abuser speaks and his real feelings. For example, he may sound very sincere and honest while he is telling his partner what is wrong with her.
[Driscoll appears at times to be really, sincerely preaching God’s Word, but upon closer inspection, he is mostly preaching aspects interpreted in ways he is comfortable with, the parts that allow him to tell us how bad we are, how much we fail, and how much we’d better listen to him and submit to his authority and buck up and deal with it. From my limited perspective thus far, I see much emphasis on commands, obedience to leaders and submission of women to men, where there is a lot of apparent condemnation for not doing the Christian life perfectly… I have not seen anything about a deep intimate love relationship with Christ (in fact, he generally mocks intimate loving worship as being too ‘chickified’), nor do I see much on a loving “Abba, Father” relationship with our Father in Heaven, nor do I see much if anything about the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, our “Paraclete” (Gk) the one who comes along side, our Comforter. And yet, for all of that, Driscoll claims to “love” us and to “love” God. This whole thing feels completely incongruent to me. He mostly seems angry and uptight, and he does sound “very sincere and honest while he is telling us what is wrong with us.”]
8. Verbal abuse usually escalates, increasing in intensity, frequency, and variety. The verbal abuse may begin with put-downs disguised as jokes. Later other forms might surface.
[It would be interesting to go back and review much older sermons of Driscoll’s to observe his escalating over time in these kinds of abusive behaviors, both in frequency and in intensity].
More to come on Verbal/Emotional Abuse in Comparison to Driscoll’s Words & Behaviors.