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Emotional abuse undermines and ignores a child's basic needs for self-worth, safety and unconditional love. This includes the need for shelter, nurturing, education and acceptance.

Emotional abuse is a persistent pattern of demeaning or threatening a child. It can be intentional or not and can be invisible and gradual.

Emotional abusers can be anyone with perceived or actual power over another who repeatedly participates in these behaviours.

Emotional abuse can corrupt a child's development physically, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and intellectually.

Emotional abuse can seem so widespread that it is not taken seriously.

It is important to name and acknowledge emotional abuse. Children who have been abused can be helped.

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will forever harm me."


Words can be as mighty as a sword and cripple a child for life.
Julie Atwood









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He should have provided protection
Instead of hurting me!
It was bad enough to be abused,
But by the one who should have been protecting me?

He constantly messed up my thinking!
Everything was always my fault!

Decades have gone by.
The carnage it did to my thinking process,
I still constantly question my thinking!

The damage it does to my self esteem,
I think people don't want me around.

The damage it does to healthy boundaries,
I accept behaviours of others I shouldn't.

The damage it does to intimate relationships!
Where is the line between healthy boundaries
and people pressuring me by saying "You're difficult!" ?

Is it just one more person trying to control me?
Should I say it's unacceptable?
Am I being unrealistic in my expectations?
I don't know what normal is!

I haven't had someone as loving as I am,
Caring for me.
I did for the first eight years,
but she died and on that day, so did my life.

I adore and cherish my children,
I feel wounded when they are made fun of or feel insecure!
I get wounded watching their childhood wounds,
because my childhood wounds never healed!

No one could love my children more that I do.
But, sometimes I wonder,
Would they be better parented
by someone not so wounded?

They are learning empathy and compassion,
But at what price?

I'm attractive, outwardly confident, own my own house,
So how bad could it have been?

You'll never know!

The abuse pervades every aspect of my life.

How many times have I said
"I wont let the abuse affect me any more
because I've grown,
read so many books and gone through therapy."?

Yet it still affects everything!

Abuse - it's not an "isolated" incident,
or even a series of incidents!
Abuse is the murdering of the soul
While the body continues to function!
Making people believe everything is okay.

To the people around me,
The abuse has faded into the past.
People say let it go.

I am constantly trying to,
But it surfaces everywhere!
I just want the world to stop and let me get off.

















One study which looked at emotionally abused children in infancy and than again during their preschool years consistently found them to be angry, uncooperative and unattached to their primary care giver. The children also lacked creativity, persistence and enthusiasm.

"Children who experience rejection are more likely than accepted children to exhibit hostility, aggressive or passive-aggressive behaviour, to be extremely dependent, to have negative opinions of themselves and their abilities, to be emotionally unstable or unresponsive, and to have a negative perception of the world around them." Health Canada



Discussion - What is Emotional Abuse?
Initial comments about emotional abuse:
Emotional abuse is pervasive, insidious and often invisible. It is hard to intervene in cases of emotional abuse in order to prosecute the abusers. Definitions of emotional abuse may be affected by gender, or by cultural, economic and individual contexts.

There is a need to support people who provide care for children, since emotional abuse can be life-long and intergenerational.

Emotional abuse is crazy-making, and manipulative.

Emotional abuse is more painful than other abuse. It invisible and intangible. It actively inhibits a child’s growth and development, and results in low self-esteem, shame, guilt, and inward turning anger. It is often characterized by a lack of personal boundaries and an absence of emotional support.

Emotional abuse targets and erodes the autonomy of the individual, in order to meet the needs of the abuser. It is debilitating, insidious and creeping. This type of abuse could be unintentional, offered as an alternative to physical abuse (by the abuser).

A gradual process of “grooming” takes place in order to convince the victim of the normalcy and acceptability of this abuse.

There is a need to differentiate between an isolated incident and a repetitive pattern of abuse.



What emotional abuse looks like:
Emotional abuse can consist of swearing, giving the silent treatment, blaming, making fun of a child’s emotional expression, persistent and demeaning correction, a denial of the child’s uniqueness, a lack of attunement, lack of protection, threats of dire consequences and the withholding of affection or the use of affection as a control device. It can also involve children being treated inappropriately as a partner or parent.

Conflicting messages are often offered by authority figures about such abuse. The child is left with the feeling of not being good enough, of not being wanted. The child’s feelings are not validated in any way. By acquiring so much knowledge before time, childhood is stolen from each victim.



Who abuses?

Siblings or other family members, grandparents, teachers, parents, neighbours, friends or peers, coaches, bosses, ministers or other religious leaders, partners, ex-partners, members of the medical community, therapists, the media and government policymakers can all be emotional abusers.

Symptoms of emotional abuse:
Anger, aggression, shame, depression, emotional abusiveness towards others, self harming, attention seeking behaviours, withdrawal, additions and perfectionism can all be symptoms of emotional abuse.



Issues and concerns about emotional abuse:

Emotional abuse is extremely widespread, and because of this, it is not taken seriously. This type of abuse affects individuals differently, and can be hard to diagnose. Emotional abuse alone is rarely investigated unless it is tied to other forms of abuse. How do we define, differentiate or draw boundaries?

The old rhyme “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” is not true.

Victims of emotional abuse can become desensitized and emotionally abusive to themselves.

This type of abuse is not named or acknowledged as abuse. There is a stereotyping of people who have suffered emotional abuse, i.e. that they are highly functioning.




Ashner, Laurie and Mitch Meyerson. When Parents Love Too Much: What Happens When Parents Won’t Let Go. New York: Morrow, 1990.

Clarke, Jean Illsey. Self-Esteem, A Family Affair. Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 1998.

Leman, Kevin. Bringing Up Kids Without Tearing Them Down. New York, N.Y.: Delacorte 993.

Love, Patricia and Jo Robinson. The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to Do When a Parent’s Love Rules Your Life. New York: Bantam Books , 1998.

“Emotional Child Abuse: Discipline’s Fine Line. Newsweek, October 3 1988, vol. 112 no. 14, p. 48, 50.


"Follow Site Web Ring"

We have to be careful
how we express our
feelings, because
sometimes it doesn't
turn out how we
wanted it to.






You should be kind
to your child.






We R the treasuares of
the earth, guard us and
protect, love us and
care. So Dat when we
grow up we will take
care of U back.
Love your kids.
Phyllis, age 17






Love caring and nice
is how you should treat
your kids.






Ethan, 2 years old






They are only children.
Love them all!






While we may not know
every child...
We must know
the importance
of each childhood.






Be patient with kids.
Stephen 19






Love is all we need.

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*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)

*All Rights Reserved
copyright (1991-2012)