WHAT IS EMOTIONAL ABUSE
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
Emotional abuse is a persistent pattern of demeaning
or threatening a child. It can be intentional or not and can be invisible and
Emotional abusers can be anyone with perceived or
actual power over another who repeatedly participates in these behaviours.
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
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will
forever harm me."
He should have provided protection
Instead of hurting
It was bad enough to be abused,
But by the one who should have been
He constantly messed up my thinking!
Everything was always my fault!
have gone by.
The carnage it did to my thinking process,
I still constantly
question my thinking!
The damage it does to my
I think people don't want me around.
The damage it does to healthy boundaries,
behaviours of others I shouldn't.
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?
I say it's unacceptable?
Am I being unrealistic in my expectations?
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
because my childhood wounds never healed!
one could love my children more that I do.
But, sometimes I wonder,
they be better parented
by someone not so wounded?
They are learning empathy and compassion,
But at what
I'm attractive, outwardly confident, own
my own house,
So how bad could it have been?
You'll never know!
abuse pervades every aspect of my life.
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."?
it still affects everything!
Abuse - it's not an "isolated" incident,
or even a series of incidents!
Abuse is the murdering of the soul
the body continues to function!
Making people believe everything is okay.
the people around me,
The abuse has faded into the past.
People say let
I am constantly trying
But it surfaces everywhere!
I just want the world
to stop and let me get off.
CAN BREAK THE CYCLE.
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.
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 childs
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).
gradual process of grooming takes place in order to convince the victim
of the normalcy and acceptability of this abuse.
a need to differentiate between an isolated incident and a repetitive pattern
What emotional abuse looks like:
Emotional abuse can consist of swearing, giving the silent treatment, blaming,
making fun of a childs emotional expression, persistent and demeaning correction,
a denial of the childs 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 childs feelings are not validated
in any way. By acquiring so much knowledge before time, childhood is stolen from
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:
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?
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.
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.
ON EMOTIONAL ABUSE:
Ashner, Laurie and Mitch Meyerson.
When Parents Love Too Much: What Happens When Parents Wont Let Go. New York:
Clarke, Jean Illsey. Self-Esteem, A Family
Affair. Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 1998.
Bringing Up Kids Without Tearing Them Down. New York, N.Y.: Delacorte 993.
Patricia and Jo Robinson. The Emotional Incest Syndrome: What to Do When a Parents
Love Rules Your Life. New York: Bantam Books , 1998.
Child Abuse: Disciplines Fine Line. Newsweek, October 3 1988, vol. 112 no.
14, p. 48, 50.
We have to be careful
how we express our
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
of U back.
Love your kids.
Phyllis, age 17
Love caring and nice
is how you should treat
Ethan, 2 years old
They are only children.
Love them all!
While we may not know
We must know
of each childhood.
Be patient with kids.
Love is all we need.