There is no doubt that emotional abuse can be as damaging as actual physical abuse, and many times this abuse is inflicted on children by the parents. This is the worst kind of abuse because while a child is small, and even into their teenage years, it is almost impossible to escape the wrath of the parent unless the child leaves home. I know that was my situation. My mom was verbally abusive to me; she called me the worst kind of names and eventually, I was forced to leave the house...but not before she had beaten me down to the point where I really believed that I was never going to amount to anything.
Leaving the home didn't do much to rectify the situation because the damage had already been done. I literally had no self-esteem and drew men into my life who took full advantage of the vulnerable young woman I had become. All I wanted was love, but it seems that all I got was further abuse. This is because we draw into our lives that which we already know.
Sadly, the long-term effects of emotional abuse can scar the child for the rest of their lives unless they seek counseling and therapy.
As adults, it is important to recognize the signs of emotional trauma and abuse. For those of us who have lived through it, this might be easy to see; for others, there are certain things to look for. To begin with, the parent or parents will choose one particular child to use as their scapegoat. This child will be the one who has to put up with all of the parents criticism; many times this child is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the parent's life.
In addition, this child may have to listen to the parent calling them names, telling them they will never amount to anything, even go as far as calling their own child ugly, fat, stupid etc. As an only child, I got it all...all the anger directed at me. My mom's favorite words to me were, "You're going to end up a fat old drunk like your father." Is it any wonder that I had my first drink at age 14? Or that it took me so many years to come into recovery? After all, isn't this what my mom had told me I would be? Hence, the long line of abusers, addicts, gamblers, etc. Thankfully, I found recovery 20 years ago and with it, I learned that I wasn't that fat old drunk. I never was. But, there were so many years in between, so many years of abuse that didn't have to be.
The following signs that children may be being mistreated:
- Learning problems that cannot be explained
- No adult supervision
- Withdrawal from others
- No desire to go home after school or other activities
- Fearfulness, as though waiting for something bad to happen
- Changes in school performance or behavior
- Has untreated medical conditions
Emotional abuse is a horrible way to live. I know from experience; it can literally eat you alive. It may take many years to overcome your trauma, and then again, sadly, you may never get over it. But, we have obligation, an obligation to save other children from what we have experienced. If you see a child who is obviously in pain, remember the pain you felt, and reach out to help. You will be saving that child from a lifetime of pain and abuse.