Emotional Abuse: What You Can’t See


Emotional abuse is a trapping situation that victims can’t or will not stop. It takes a lot to stand up to a loved one, or to overcome a bully. Often, physical abuse comes hand in hand with psychological abuse, but not always. Sometimes its a single, festering problem that can cause deep psychological issues, especially in children. Abuse is abuse, however emotional mistreatment leaves far deeper scars.

Emotional Abuse and Children

Children are perhaps the most vulnerable recipients of emotional abuse. The most common form is bullying, and in the modern age, cyber-bullying has taken over. Emotional oppression through bullying can range from excluding youngsters from activities or friendship groups, to name-calling and heckling. There are now over 16,000 cases of children being absent from school due to bullying.

Thankfully schools are far more severe on those who bully, but its not always that easy to detect. This is why organisations like Childline exist, in order to support young people who feel trapped and without a voice.

The other and more sinister type of emotional abuse is that which comes from a parent or guardian, or any other family members. 1 in 14 children have experienced emotional abuse from a parent or relative, this makes it the 2nd most common reason children have needed support or protection from emotional abuse.

Maltreatment can range from not giving your child a voice, putting them in situations they are too young to emotionally understand, or actively exploiting the child verbally. Other offences include laughing at your child whilst they are in distress.

In order to spot if a child is being emotionally abused or neglected is to asses their personality traits. Look for those who are overly clingy or affectionate towards people they don’t know, or barely know. Also, look out for children who are very quiet and reserved, or to those who lash out or even bully classmates. Find out more from the NSPCC website where you’ll be able to locate resources and statistics.

Emotional Abuse in Relatioships

Sometimes both the victim and the abuser are unaware of any foul play in the relationship. This makes everything far more difficult for the victim, as they are often made to feel guilty for things that are not their fault.

Intimate relationship abuse most commonly consists of systematic offences that continue unnecessarily. Abusers are usually constantly around their victim, limiting their time outside and with friends. They may often try to control their partners, often in the form of treating them like a child. The main idea is to make their partner feel so trapped and put down, that they become more and more dependent on their abuser. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that out of the 392,000 women who had experienced emotional abuse, 46% said that the abuse included their partners making them feel constantly ashamed and humiliated.

Its a very isolating situation, in which you are made to feel stupid, belittled and like your opinions and feeling don’t matter. Their future goals and dreams are often crushed beneath the abusers need to control every aspect of their partners life.

Other signs of emotional abuse are (but not limited to):

  • the victim feel they need permission to go outside or meet friends
  • constant verbal abuse that either patronizes, teases, or trivializes you (however there are many more and can be a compilation of more than one)
  • they try to control how you spend your money
  • accusations of infidelity
  • they always point out any of your flaws (e.g. physical appearance, mistakes)
  • they immediately squash any complaints of abusive behaviour, often by making excuses or blaming the victim.
  • they use strategies to control you (e.g. withholding sex, scaring/frightening you, making threats etc)

Of course, emotional abuse is not always from a partner or parent. Many experience abuse from friends, teachers and bosses/colleagues. It’s a common problem most people have to deal with, though the unfortunate few experience regular, deliberate and nasty abuse. Its not just a inconsequential office joke about your hair, its about how often it happens, how intense things get, and also if people start to individually victimize you regularly.




About Author

Profile photo of Eleanor Reece

16 year-old college student (Creative Writing, English Literature and Religious Studies) living in England. I love reading, writing and photography, and totally rely on my journal to keep me going. If I meet you, I'll want to take a picture of your pretty face, and would likely end up writing about your cool shoes.

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