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ABUSE: Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse (psychological abuse, verbal abuse, mental injury) includes acts or omissions that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. In some cases of emotional abuse, the acts of parents or other caregivers alone, without any harm evident in the child’s behavior or condition, are sufficient to warrant child protective services (CPS) intervention. For example, the parents/caregivers may use extreme or bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement of a child in a dark closet. This is usually done in the name of "discipline."
Examples of emotional abuse include:
Belittling - Disparaging comments;
making what one said as unimportant or contemptibly small
Teasing - Harassing someone
'playfully' and often with sexual connotations, or harassing
maliciously (especially by ridicule); provoking someone with
persistent annoyances NOTE:
If teasing is reciprocal, it can be considered a playful bonding
interaction and is not
abusive. If one or both persons are in a
relationship, then this type of teasing with another is flirting and is emotionally abusive in
Some emotional abuse, such as habitual scape-goating, belittling, or rejecting treatment, is often difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm to the child.
Andrew Vachss, an attorney who represents children and youth exclusively, with 30 years experience in child protective work, says that emotional abuse of children can lead in adulthood to:
Read Andrew Vachss' excellent article, You Carry The Cure In Your Own Heart.
Next: Teen Dating Violence
by Beverly Engel
More Information on Emotional Abuse
Emotional Abuse in Teen Dating Relationships: What Every Parent Needs to Know ~ Almost all American teens -- 96% -- say that they have been emotionally and/or psychologically abused by a dating partner.
Emotional Abuse in Youth Sports (pdf) ~ Emotional abuse in youth sports can come from a parent or guardian, coach, teacher, sibling, or a friend. It is the most common form of maltreatment in youth sports, and includes verbal abuse, forcing a child to participate in sports, punishing a child for not playing well or losing, and making a child believe that his or her self-worth relies on winning.
Invisible Scars: Verbal Abuse Triggers Adult Anxiety and Depression ~ This study found that people who were verbally abused had 1.6 times as many symptoms of depression and anxiety as those who had not been verbally abused and were twice as likely to have suffered a mood or anxiety disorder over their lifetime.
Sticks, Stones, and Hurtful Words: Relative Effects of Various Forms of Childhood Maltreatment ~ This study was designed to delineate the impact of parental verbal aggression, witnessing domestic violence, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, by themselves and in combination, on psychiatric symptoms. Childhood verbal abuse had a relatively weak association with current anxiety, but it had moderate to strong links with current depression, anger-hostility, and dissociative symptoms. These links were stronger than those for being a victim of physical abuse during childhood and comparable to those for witnessing domestic violence during childhood and for being sexually abused by a nonfamily member during childhood.
Teasing: A Real Problem and Solutions ~ Even though teasing is considered a type of bullying, teasing can range from an enjoyable to a hurtful interaction. Psychologists define teasing as an ambiguous message containing both humor and hostility.
The Psychological Maltreatment of Children ~ One survey cited in this report revealed that 10% to 20% of toddlers and 50% of teenagers experience severe aggression (e.g., cursing, threatening to send the child away, calling the child 'dumb' or such other belittling names). This report affirms that psychological scars can last a lifetime.
Verbal Abuse ~ 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. Verbal abuse and physical abuse result from a world view that is clearly not biblical or loving.
You Are Not the Cause of Your Husband's Anger or Abuse ~ Angry and controlling husbands are very anxious by temperament. From the time they were young children, they've had a more or less constant sense of dread that things will go badly and they will fail to cope. So they try to control their environment to avoid that terrible feeling of failure and inadequacy.
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