Emotional abuse hides in plain sight

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, April 27, 2017

The victims of emotional/psychological abuse may never suffer broken bones or bruises, but the children who suffer this type of abuse describe it as one of the most harmful destructive forms of child abuse.

There is no evidence to show, no way to prove their suffering. In this society, emotional/psychological abuse is often seen as less serious than other forms of child abuse due to the lack of physical wounds. However, emotional/psychological abuse can have serious effects on the child.

An emotionally abusive parent doesn’t only resort to the use of verbal abuse; in fact it may be that some words are actually kind and appear supportive to everyone around, including other family members. This leaves the victim confused and serves the very important need for the abuser to appear caring and nurturing. This covert type of abuse can be administered in small discrete ways gradually over time.

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Emotional/Psychological abuse is used to control, shame, isolate, belittle, and brainwash children. The child is often seen as an extension of the parent. The emotional abuser is so incapable of owning their own guilt, pain, and anger that they manipulate and project their own insecurities onto the child.

Emotional abusers often covertly assign the role of scapegoat to this victim to carry the family’s transgressions so that the family can continue to outwardly appear as a happy, healthy, functioning family, all the while robbing the child of their own identity.

Sometimes the abusive parent even trains the remaining family how to treat the targeted victim and this behavior becomes the norm that everyone in the family assumes is the normal way a family operates. Often the victim may try to call out the abuser to loved ones, only to be invalidated by the enabling loved ones who experience fear themselves of the abuser’s rage and rejection.

All human beings have an innate longing for unconditional love and acceptance. It is this that emotional abusers take advantage of. The child is afraid of losing the parent’s love and approval if the child were to dare to stand up and express the pain and abuse.

Parents who pull their love away from their children simply because they are not given their way are engaging in emotional abuse. Love, acceptance, and affection are not things a child should fear losing and should not have to be earned. It is a child’s God given right to be loved and accepted. When a child is forced to function in a life that their very self-identity revolves around keeping the abusive parent from the explosive rage and rejection, the child often feels lonely, afraid, frustrated, hurt, and overwhelmingly filled with feelings of inadequacy.

Emotional abusers often use brainwashing techniques to make the child believe that any attempt to expose the abuse would be futile and that the child is the problem not the abuse.

Often emotional abusers will mask the verbal abuse and humiliations as “jokes” that the child just can’t take because of being “over sensitive” or they “need to grow up.” No one ever grows up enough to justify and accept abuse, regardless of the form or age.

Emotionally abusive parents will often discredit and tear down any and every achievement and accomplishment that the victim makes in efforts to affirm their negative characterization of the victim. In fact, in many cases only the mistakes and failures are highlighted.

Even when this type of abuse is brought to light and the abused victim tries to reach out for help or tries to be a voice against emotional and psychological abuse, they themselves are attacked. It is important to remember that when a victim speaks out, it is not to gain approval, acceptance, or fans, because the sad reality is that they likely will receive the opposite, it is the victim giving themselves back their voice and taking back control of a life that was stolen.

No matter how much people often want to silence those victims who want to stand against this type of abuse because it is “uncomfortable,” it is important to bring awareness to the reality of how damaging emotional and psychological abuse is and educate people to help put an end to child abuse in all its forms.

In observing April as Child Abuse Awareness Month, to the survivors of all forms of child abuse, I offer this Survivor’s Psalm from www. Giftfromwithin.com.

I have been victimized.

I was in a fight that was not a fair fight.

I did not ask for the fight.

I lost.

There is no shame in losing such fights.

I have reached the stage of survivor

And am no longer a slave of victim status.

I look back with sadness rather than hate.

I look forward with hope rather than despair.

I may never forget, but I need not constantly remember.

I was a victim.

I am a Survivor.

– Angela Price Jenne

Mill Spring, N.C.