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Emotional Abuse

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is a pattern of behavior that hurts a child’s emotional, psychological and social development and sense of self worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, withholding affection, and negligence. If a child is being physically or sexually abused, he or she may be emotionally abused as well.

How do you recognize emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse may not be recognized by physical signs, but a child will react very strongly through their emotions. The list below describes some of the signs an emotionally abused child may display:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Severe depression
  • Aggression
  • Withdrawal
  • Severe anxiety

What should I do if I suspect a child is being emotionally abused?

Emotional abuse is hard to identify as it leaves no physical signs. Emotional abuse may include not allowing the child to attend school, isolation and unreasonable expectations. Do your best to support the child and be on the lookout for any signs of other types of abuse. If a child is showing signs of emotional abuse, he or she may be experiencing physical or sexual abuse.

Helping a child heal
Children and adults who have been emotionally abused need the validation and support of other people to build their self-esteem and teach them to form healthy relationships. Friends and family can help by:

  • Reminding the child that he/she is important and deserves love
  • Modeling appropriate behaviors
  • Engaging the child in activities he or she is good at and enjoys
  • Helping the child meet and make friends with other children his or her own age
  • Listening to the child and making him or her feel respected

Content Credit: Kid’s Matter Inc.