Educating on Emotional Abuse in Children



When a parent, caregiver, or authoritative figure harms a child’s mental and social development, or causes severe emotional harm, it is considered to be emotional abuse. While a single incident may be considered abuse, most often emotional abuse is viewed as a pattern that causes damage over time. Nearly one hundred and seventy-five thousand children in the U.S. are abused annually. Some of the actions an abuser may take part in is intentionally disregarding a child's well-being, withholding food, deliberately lowering the self-esteem of a child, withholding medical care, isolating them, scaring them, and misusing their dependency on the abuser. Most of these children who are victims of abuse from a parent aren’t even aware that they're victims because of severe brainwashing and unhealthy attachment from the parent. Even when they are aware, they’re often afraid to complain because they’re fearful that they will be blamed, that no one will believe them, and that they will be abused even further. Additionally, since the abuse is from a parent, it’s very hard for a child to come to terms with the fact that someone who is supposed to love them is causing intentional harm to them. While it is very hard to tell why such a horrific thing happens, there are some clear signs. This abuse mostly occurs in broken families, with non-biological parents, where the child or parent has psychological disorders, or where the parent has a history of substance abuse.


​Read through the list below. If you see even one of these signs happening to you or someone you know, you or they may be a victim of emotional child abuse. Does the abuser:

  • Humiliate you with repeated name-calling, harsh threats, and sarcasm that continually “beat down” your self-esteem?

  • Control what you do, who you talk to or where you go, including stopping you from seeing family members?

  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you?

  • Make all of the decisions without your input or consideration of your needs?

  • Tell you that you’re a bad child and threaten to leave ?

  • Prevent you from attending school?

  • Act like the abuse is no big deal, deny the abuse, or tell you it’s your own fault?

  • Attempt to force you to not press charges?

  • Threaten to hurt you?

  • Cut you off from normal social experiences and from making friends?

  • Create a climate of fear, and make you believe that the world is hostile?

  • Withdraw needed medical attention and treatment?

  • Encourages you to engage in destructive and antisocial behavior, reinforces defiance?


“It is not the the bruises on the body that hurt. It is the wounds of the heart and the scars on the mind.”

~Aisha Mirza


For me, my abuse stemmed from the divorce of my parents. The first time I got help while going through this was in elementary school through a children with divorce parents support group named "Banana Split". I liked the overall sentiment of the name: turning adversity into something positive. 



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