A Tribute to Womanhood

Welcome to "I Am Woman"...a tribute to all those women who had the courage and perseverance to stand up and fight for their rights. Thanks to those who came before us we enjoy a freedom unknown to women not too long ago. But, sadly, in many parts of the world, women continue to be repressed. In fact, even in this country there are women living today under the threat of violence...completely controlled by a violent spouse. Some may make it; others won't. Hopefully, one day ALL women will be free. May that day come soon.


Emotional Abuse and Children

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
So, what does one do when the signs have been identified?  I believe that first need to confront the parent even if you are afraid of the
consequences. Perhaps they will welcome someone to talk to, and if not, the heck with them.  The child is the one who is important in this case. You may want to talk to a school counselor. The counselor can give you advice on how to further cope with the terrible situation.  
If the abuse is extreme, it may be time to confide with a close family friend or relative to possibly make arrangements for the child to be removed from the home. It is also important to contact child protective services.  I know that in some states, especially here in the city, they have a horrible reputation, but if one allows them to, they WILL help.  I have a client whose child was removed due to drug use in the home, and they have helped her to seek treatment, further her education, and now are helping her find appropriate housing for herself and the child.

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.


  1. Oh Mary, I'm so sorry you had such a devastating childhood. I hope through your work and your words that you can help those children that have no voice.

  2. As I would say and have to anyone who asks...emotional abuse leaves scars deeper than physical abuse. I would rather have been hit than talked to the way my father talked to me at times. It hurt getting smacked across the face, but the sting went away. The words are still there today.

  3. Too many of us have had to live through this pain. Thankfully we're strong women in spite of it. And I've learned the truth in what goes around, comes around. Karma is at work now in my life....

  4. I'm sorry you had to go through that. I was also an only child, and therefore, the sole target of their insults. I wish I had told someone but I was too afraid because my mother told me not to tell and I felt that I had to "honor" her. My father threatened to kill me. When a teacher suspected I had been abused, I was sent to a psychologist. He seemed like a nice man, even though he made me feel stupid with all those Rorschack (sp?) tests. He asked me if anything was wrong at home and I denied it because I was too scared to tell. Biggest mistake of my life. My heart breaks for children in that situation today, I hope they have the courage to speak out and that the adults in their life will help them.

    1. What about the kids who have told, even their best friends, but still aren't getting help?