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The Emotionally Destructive Relationship: Seeing It, Stopping It, Surviving It Paperback – August 15, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 219 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Leslie Vernick powerfully communicates essential truths for anyone even questioning whether they are the victim of abuse. This book is a must–read―not only will it educate the reader to take the necessary steps to freedom, but it will also prevent future destructive relationships. Thank you, Leslie, for having the courage to write this much needed book!”
Michelle Borquez, author of God Crazy and host of I–Life Television’s Shine

The Emotionally Destructive Relationship provides a critical first step down the path of healing and growth for those who find themselves stuck in abusive relationships...with no idea how they got there and no idea how to get out. Those who suffer in these relationships and those who want to help them will find a humble fellow–traveler in Leslie. As always, Leslie meets the sufferer and the sinner with compassion, truth, concrete direction, and lots of hope. I look forward to using this book with my counselees”
Winston Smith, MDiv, director of counseling services and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation

“Emotional abuse is often overlooked, but it is toxic to spirit, mind and brain chemistry. The church rarely tackles it even though the Bible significantly covers it. Leslie wonderfully and practically addresses this tough topic that cripples the body of Christ and our witness to the world.

"The Emotionally Destructive Relationship will be a catalyst to help you see your own story as abuser and victim―and a catalyst to help you let the Holy Spirit empower you to renew your mind and transform relational skills so you will be a lighthouse of hope, shining God’s glory for all to know His love and grace.”
Karl Benzio, MD, psychiatrist; founder and executive director of Lighthouse Network

“Periodically books come along that fill a significant need in the world of Christian counseling. This is one of those books. Leslie Vernick’s new work helps persons caught up in harmful relationships gain perspective on what has gone wrong and what needs to be made right.

The Emotionally Destructive Relationship avoids confusing psychological lingo and places the emphasis where it belongs, on the heart of men and women who must seek Christ in order to make changes in themselves in order to make changes in their relationships. Readers will first find themselves in these pages as a victim of harmful or abusive relationships; as enablers of harmful relationships; and perpetrators of harmful relationships.

“Vernick’s treatment of each situation is evenhanded, tull of clinical insight, practical and concrete, and most important, biblical. Readers will walk away with a plan of action on how to change themselves and how to change the patterns of their relationship. I intend to use this book both for the persons I counsel and the graduate students learning how to counsel others.”
Jeffery Black, PhD, associate pastor of Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, licensed psychologist, chair and professor of the masters in Christian counseling at Philadelphia Biblical University

“If you came from an emotionally healthy family, are contentedly single or happily married, and have good relationships with every one you know, consider yourself very fortunate! Reality for the rest of the world often involves difficult, painful, and even destructive relationships. Leslie Vernick addresses some of the toughest situations women (and men) face in her book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. Written from a biblical rather than psychological perspective, the book gives principles of healthy relationships based on Scripture. If you resonate with what this book covers, I would encourage you to read it for your own understanding and direction. If you are a ministry leader or ‘people–helper,’ please make an effort to get this book. It will give you vital knowledge and skills for being a channel of Christ’s love and wisdom to others.”
Poppy Smith, international speaker and author

“Often the Christian community negates or minimizes the destructive nature of emotional abuse, which destroys the spirit of an individual and leaves invisible wounds that scar the soul. The Emotionally Destructive Relationship connects emotional abuse to its spiritual roots and provides practical tools to help victims heal. The biblical solution is found in the condition of heart, the renewing of the mind, and the refocusing on one’s relationship with the Lord.

“This book challenges readers to take a united stand against emotional abuse...the cancer that is destroying our families. Our ministry will utilize this book as a valuable tool to train pastors and support group leaders, and in ministering to families in crisis.”
Brenda Branson and Paula Silva, FOCUS Ministries, Inc., authors of Violence Among Us: Ministry to Families in Crisis

“If you have been wounded or trapped in a destructive relationship, you are not alone. Your life story isn’t over. These are the life–transforming themes of hope that Leslie affirms as she shares her healing journey, encouraging others to discover what’s wrong in their relationship and find a biblical understanding of God’s solution. As you apply what you read, you will learn how to let go of destructive ways and will heal and grow to become healthier and changed by God’s loving grace. A must–read for everyone longing for assurance of God’s love.”
Dr. Catherine Hart Weber, coauthor of Secrets of Eve and Unveiling Depression in Women; adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary

“Here is a book I deeply wish didn’t need to be written, but also one I am so grateful Leslie Vernick has had the courage to write. You will be moved by her compassion, be appreciative of her candor, and be helped by her professional skills honed in the trenches of real life.”
Gene Appel, lead pastor, Willow Creek Community Church

About the Author

Leslie Vernick, a licensed clinical social worker with a private counseling practice, has authored numerous books, including The Emotionally Destructive Relationship and Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy. She completed postgraduate work in biblical counseling and cognitive therapy. Leslie and her husband, Howard, have been married more than 30 years and have two grown children.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 247 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (August 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0736918973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0736918978
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nancy S. Meyer on November 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
I am so very grateful Leslie wrote this book for those of us in difficult relationships. She shares with candor and comfort how to ask the right questions, seek help, get healthy and stay strong - whether or not the difficult person in your life changes. In addition to a very practical questionnaire, the entire book is an easy, understandable read with useful applications and plenty of scriptural support. I've already personally worked through many of the truths Leslie shares, but I gleaned so much additional information and encouragement I wish I would have known years ago. If you've been wounded or hurt or know someone who has--or is--this book is a must for your library.
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Format: Paperback
None of us is without challenging relationships in our lives, but Leslie offers guidelines for when they've crossed the line to "harmful." Her book will help those in negative relationships determine what part of the problem with another they "own." Most important, she'll guide them through steps of recovery. This is not a one-box-fits-all book; many relationships are so troubled that they truly need professional counseling. But Leslie's book will point out the trouble spots and help people on the road to wholeness--or at least to understanding a way through the problem. I've come to expect lay-friendly yet professional wisdom in Leslie's books, and this one continues that track record. If you're looking for compassionate (and Christian) perspective on this difficult topic, you won't want to pass it up.
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book to deal with some emotionally destructive relationships I have had my entire life. I was abused mentally, verbally, physically, and emotionally my entire life. I went from severe abuse as a child (I wanted to die at the age of 5), to an adult life of continued severe abuse with everyone surrounding me. I am 46. I feel I have zero self worth as it is. I want to warn you. If you have had severe, unimaginable abuse over your lifetime, this book could make you feel worse at times. Of course, that is not the author's intention at all. Read it with an understanding person or a counselor. At the very beginning of the book, I felt, "Wow, someone gets me!" I was so excited to know that someone actually knew how I felt. Then, comes the survey to see who the abusers are. I actually knew who they were, I just wanted confirmation. The survey is very vague and to me wasn't very helpful. It didn't show many forms of abuse. After doing the survey, I thought maybe there wasn't any abuse that was so bad after all. Then in the mid section I began to think "I" was the one with all of the problems. That could be just because I feel guilty about everything and was always told I was to blame. I began to feel very discouraged as if the abuse was because of me or my reactions. It began to make me more depressed. I wondered if I had done this or if I could change that, then maybe it would be better. The author states that our reactions such as anger, being codependent, outbursts, etc. will make a destructive relationship worse, which is true. She does state that it is never an excuse for someone to abuse us even if we have wrong reactions. I do agree that we need to change our reactions and our own thoughts so that we can see clearly to make changes. I could handle that.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
I absolutely loved the way Leslie Vernick included all the scripture verses and references in her book. I used my reading time for my devotions and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was so good to have all those verses to balance scripture with scripture my husband quotes. I also loved the examples, the stories of her clients, and especially the dialogues I need to memorize and use. She has given me so much hope through her fantastic book.

Her "Resources for Additional Help" has given me even more hope. There are several more books from her list I want to read, especially her other book "How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong". The first book I read on this subject and also highly recommended to others was "The Verbally Abusive Relationship". Another excellent book I read was "You Can't Say That to Me! Stopping the Pain of Verbal Abuse--an 8-Step Program" by Suzette Haden Elgin, Ph.D. She is the author of "The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense" series, which I would also like to read. I do not know if these authors are Christians or not as the books I read are secular, so I especially love the way Leslie Vernick's book leaves no one wondering if she is a Christian or not!

As soon as I started reading her book, I knew it was going to be an excellent book and started recommending it to people after only reading a couple of chapters. I have been recommending it to our counselors as the best book I have read on the topic. It has given me hope and confirmed the steps I have been taking are in the right direction. I feel like I am finally getting some direction and guidance as to what to do rather than feeling so helpless and trapped without a clue what to do besides pray and wait on God for direction. I believe God is going to use this book to help give direction for those of us desperately seeking it.
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I have been struggling with an on-again, off-again relationship for three long years. With a very emotionally unavailable and narcissistic man. I hadn't even realized that those two issues alone, (separately or together) made the relationship a destructive and abusive one. This book helped validate what I had been thinking all along and then some. It helped me to realize that what was going on wasn't right or ok, it was downright wrong and dysfunctional. And I am worthy of so much more. And I will get it too! But probably not from the same person I've been in the relationship with. And this book really helped me to be ok with that. The book is written from a Christen perspective and with a lot of bible phrases. I believe anyone struggling with a relationship can benefit from it regardless of their religion. All you need is a belief in God and the book will be helpful.
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