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What is psychological abuse?
Psychological abuse is closely associated with neglect. In fact, emotional abuse is often used interchangeably with child neglect. However, neglect typically involves depriving the child of some physical necessity such as food or shelter; emotional abuse is not necessarily physical. For instance, a parent or guardian could penalize a child for normal behavior, such as smiling or laughing. This does not involve physically depriving the child of anything but is still abusive and damaging.
Punishing children for normal behavior may keep them from acting normally in the future, damage their self-esteem and create lasting emotional problems. Psychological abuse could also involve punishing a young child for becoming attached to a caregiver, penalizing the child for exploring his/her surroundings or punishing a child for demonstrating signs of self-esteem. For example, a parent, guardian or caregiver that yells at a young child for developing emotional attachments to other people or developing interpersonal skills may be considered emotionally abusive.
Physical vs. Psychological
Whether you realize it or not, child abuse is not always physical. In fact, emotional abuse can leave a child with scars equally as severe as those left by physical abuse. Emotional abuse, also called psychological abuse, involves mistreating a child in any way that impairs their psychological growth or development. Emotional abuse can be active or passive; indifference can be as emotionally damaging as abusive words or actions. Generally speaking, emotional abusers habitually reject, ignore, demean, and criticize their victims – leaving the child with psychological damage.
Psychological and physical abuse can occur simultaneously, but one does not necessitate the other. Physical abuse, also called non-accidental trauma, involves any physical damage inflicted on a child by another person – usually a caregiver. The signs of physical abuse are referred to as battered child syndrome and range of mild bruising to fractures and other dangerous injuries. According to the New York Times, physical child abuse usually takes place when the abuser is under a great deal of stress. Additionally, many child abusers were physically abused as children.
Causes of emotional child abuse
Emotional child abuse is often associated with mental illness, poverty, familial distress and substance abuse. Not every caregiver associated with these conditions is abuse, but many instances of physiological abuse are caused by circumstances surrounding the caregiver. Emotional abuse risk factors are difficult to determine because every child’s development is unique. However, many abusers are associated with these situations. Additionally, most abusers were abused as children. In the end, children who are emotionally abused as children are more likely to become abusers when they are older.
The Long-Term Effects
According to an article in the New York Times, emotional abuse is symptomized by academic difficulties, rebellious behavior, sleep disorders, ambiguous physical complaints, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, eating disorders or trouble gaining weight. The full effect of emotional abuse on the well being a child is hard to determine; every child develops differently and will be affected differently. If you suspect that a child is in immediate danger of abuse, call 911. According to the law, caregivers, school employees, medical professionals and health care workers are required to report evidence of child abuse.
In the United States, there are a variety of support groups available to families affected by emotional and physical child abuse. Treatment options for psychological abuse are usually determined by the severity of the abuse and how long the child was subjected to abuse. Abused children are usually treated through therapy. School-based programs, nursing home visits, social worker visitations and parenting classes are available to help families affected by psychological child abuse.
Knowing When to Report Abuse
Sometimes, emotional abuse is more difficult to identify than physical abuse. After all, psychological scarring is not physically identifiable. Clinicians are able to identify children who have been abused through the Child Abuse and Trauma Scale (CATS) – a measuring system that determines levels of emotional abuse in children. Emotional abuse may be hard to identify because abused children are afraid that they will be punished if they report their caregiver’s abusive behavior. Many times, children suffering from emotional abuse are extremely loyal to their abusive caregiver or parent.
They may also demonstrate dramatic behavioral mood swings, such as compulsively seeking affection and then becoming hostile or aggressive. Many abused children are uncooperative and destructive. Additionally, an abused child may be antisocial, struggle to make friends, lack self-confidence, develop unusual fears or anxiety or appear unable to develop relationships with other people. Although many of these indicators are not solely identified with emotional abuse, children who exhibit more than one of these characteristics may be abuse victims.
Tell Zinda Law Group About Your Case
If you suspect that a child has been emotionally abused, contact a Personal Injury attorney from our firm today. At Zinda Law Group, we understand that child abuse involves more than physical damages. Emotional abuse can be equally as devastating. We are ready to take your case to court and stand up for your rights and the rights of your family. Child abuse is never okay. We are passionate about representing clients with an aggressive legal presence in the courtroom. If you need help, contact us today and schedule a free case consultation. With more than ten years of experience behind us, an attorney from our firm can give you peace of mind knowing that your case is in good hands.