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When Children Live With Emotional Abuse.

Mental health is an area I like to delve into especially in topics I can relate to. It sort of tells my side of things.


Child abuse is the number 1 cause of post-traumatic stress disorder and complex PTSD in adults today.

Crazy right? How things that are done to children who people feel know nothing can affect them so much and so hard much later.

Physical, verbal, sexual and several other kinds of abuse done to a child all comes down to one point. How they feel at the end of it all, how it affects them psychologically and its later effects… That is their emotions.

This is why I would be focusing mainly on emotional abuse.

What is Emotional Abuse?

Emotional abuse is any type of abuse that entails continuous emotional mistreatment of a child.

Otherwise called psychological abuse, it is part of several other forms of abuse and so its signs are not conspicuous.

The U.S government defines emotional abuse as “a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth”

Basically it is the negative impact of action, speech and behavior of significant figures in a child’s life.

A child’s mind is like a magnet, it picks up on the littlest things and that why we can remember a lot of things from our childhood quite clearly.

I personally can recall songs I learnt while I was little more clearly than the information I wrote on a test 3 days ago


Circumstances Surrounding Abusive Environments

Children who are present in families that experience adverse conditions can fall into emotional abuse as people simply offload or rather transfer the aggression to them since they are pretty much helpless and will take it.

Conditions like:

  • Relationship problems
  • Poverty
  • Money problems
  • Family arguments
  • Addiction to drugs and alcohol
  • Mental health issues
  • Domestic abuse
  • Single parenthood

Types of Child Emotional Abuse

  • Humiliation and constant criticism
  • Yelling and threatening
  • Blaming and scapegoating
  • Using the child as a joke subject
  • Pushing a child too hard
  • Failing to promote a child’s social development
  • Neglect
  • Manipulation
  • Ignoring a child’s successes and efforts
  • Lack of interest in interactions or child’s interest
  • Making a child perform degrading acts
  • Trying to control child
  • Comparing the child to his/her peers
  • Allowing child to witness the abuse of another etc.

Abuse that resonates emotionally takes place in different forms.

For a child it could be much milder situations as their resilience isn’t built to take up so much pressure. It isn’t just easy to simply grow though it like nothing happened as it all sticks to them.

An adult can decide to be a rolling stone but every child needs some form of rooting not just in growth but in support as well.


Noticeable Signs in Abused Child

  • Being fearful of a parent
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Talking badly about themselves
  • Seeming emotionally immature compared to peers
  • Sudden change in behavior
  • Difficulty in making or maintaining relationships
  • Lacks social skills
  • Seems isolated from parents
  • Have few or no friends

Some of these signs don’t take place quite immediately until after a while.

Like a drug injected into a system and needs time to kick in, it harbors itself in the child’s mind and shows itself, like the resilience it put up wasn’t strong enough to hold it down.

Extent of Emotional Abuse Effects

The extent of damage emotional abuse can differ for different individuals and this is because of the circumstances surrounding the abuse of the child and the amount of help he/she is able to get.

The amount of resilience a child can put up is not related to how wise or dumb the child is, there are HSPs (Highly Sensitive Persons) among children and so it is harder for most of them. Especially if abuse comes from home; a place that is supposed to be their safe space, they feel alone and really retract into their shells

The factors or circumstances surrounding the extent of effects include

  • Age and development stage at which maltreatment occurred. Evidence points to the fact that the younger the child was at the time of maltreatment, the more likely the child is to encounter problems
  • Severity of the maltreatment is another one. As the greater severity of maltreatment, the more likely a child will have a negative outcome.
  • Type of abuse. Different types of abuse leads to different kinds of effects, even a mix between two or three kinds of abuse in the child can produce something different from other children with a single similar type of abuse.
  • The victim’s perception of abuse. Worse outcomes can result from a victim who feels shame or self-blame as a result of abuse as well as a feeling of bitterness
  • Relationship between victim and abuser. Effects tend to be much harsher on a person who had a close relationship with the abuser. Such as a family member.
  • Presence of positive or protective factors to mitigate effects of abuse. Such as extended family, teachers, friends etc.
  • Early detection of abuse and immediate treatment of child in question. Children who are lucky to be detected early enough have a chance of being treated without this abuse leaving a scar on them

Children learn what they live

Finally, let me leave you with this poem by Dorothy Law Nolte. It was the inspiration behind the title and the article as well.


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