Abuse Without a Word — Nonverbal Abusive Communications
Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. (Psa 35:19)
A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord; therefore calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment he will be broken beyond healing. (Pro 6:12-15)
“I just won’t say too much.” “No, no. I think it best if I just remain quiet.” “What YOU said is gossip.” How often have you heard an abuser make these kinds of statements? All of them are designed, of course to accuse you and yet, because the wicked person doesn’t actually verbalize, he maintains he is righteous and you have no right to rebuke him.
The Bible has really a fair amount to say about non-verbal, devious methods of accusing, reviling, and sowing discord. The two quoted above are classic examples. This is what a worthless, wicked man does. He “goes about.” This is his mission, and it is intentional. In addition to “crooked speech” (which you can bet is disguised as pious and holy talk), he uses non-verbal body communiques with his eyes and feet and fingers as weapons of his perverted heart. With them he sows discord among people, alienating them from the victim and from one another. All of this only takes a wink of his eye applied at just the right moment, a shuffle of his feet, a raised eyebrow, or even (and perhaps the most devious of all), an expressionless flat facial affect accompanied by verbal silence.
We have seen these very things operative in years past in our church, and I can tell you that this wickedness was very effective at sowing discord among us. The culprits were very often verbally silent – “I don’t think it is right that I say anything” – after they had already communicated and accused by, let’s say, abstaining from a vote or refusing to positively stand together with others against some injustice. Quite often these evil ones project dissonance that plants seeds of trouble by accompanying pious-sounding words with non-verbal actions or nuances that contradict those words, sending a message that trumps the one that is verbalized.
Non-verbal communications — the winks, the nods, the silences, even the choice of where to sit in a social setting — are also incredibly devious because the real message they express is clearly recognized by the victim, but not by others. This has probably happened to you. The abuser, at some gathering, jumps right in to help clear the table after a meal. What a noble guy he is. Yeah, right. The victim knows full well what his real intention is — to accuse and shame her in some way; or to parade as such a helpful husband that every other women at the gathering wishes her husband was a good as he is. Just what level of evil do these kinds of tactics require? What kind of a person naturally and habitually practices such things? I can tell you — a thoroughly evil person consumed with power and control on a quest for self-glory.
Sulking of course is still another non-verbal abusive communication. The silent treatment. Pouting. Sitting off to the side, distanced from the others. Not smiling. Having a ‘worried’ and serious expression on his face. “Did you see Hal tonight? Something must be troubling him. Poor man.”
Well, God’s Word to such people is this: calamity is going to come crashing down on your head and squish you like a bug. God hates and detests what you are doing. People may not ‘hear’ your winks and shuffles, but God gets it, and He is going to get you. In fact, Proverbs goes on in the very next verses to tell the winking wicked just what God thinks of them:
There are six things that the LORD hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. (Pro 6:16-19)
He hates you, Mr. abuser. God Almighty hates you. And He is coming. He is coming, for you.