Psychological abuse, as harmful as physical abuse

Psychological abuse, as harmful as physical abuse

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Unfortunately, this form of abuse is usually the most frequent in minors.

The results of a recent study by the American Psychological Association (APA) confirms that during childhood the psychological abuse produces significant long-term damage, equal to or greater than the long-term consequences of physical abuse.

Identify psychological abuse

The psychological abuse It can be difficult to identify, but it includes belittling, denigrating, exploiting or neglecting a child. These are behaviors that make a child feel useless, unloved or unwanted, such as when the baby is left alone in a crib all day without caring for him when he cries, or when a child is insulted for his way of be, among many other ways among which we highlight the following:

  • Indifference to the needs or temperament of the child, which may be different from those of his brothers or sisters.
  • Humiliation when the child fails a task or does not understand the instructions.
  • Denigration or negative description of something that the child expresses that interests him or of some achievement he has obtained.
  • Negligence, not providing essential emotional support or recognition of the child's needs.
  • The relentless pressure to achieve the expectations of the parents, often accompanied by negative comparisons of the child in front of other people.

Any form of psychological abuse can be fueled by the parents' own self-hate, jealousy, narcissism or other pathology. Some examples may be the following:

When a child goes to his parents, saying: "Look at my new drawing!"O"Look what I have done for this school project!"And he receives a dry and disdainful:"It doesn't bother me now. I am working on something important" The fact of not stopping for a brief moment to attend to the child will have a more or less large negative emotional impact depending on how cumulative it is.

When a father or mother praises one of his children, while ignoring or criticizing another brother of the child. For example, "Congratulations you have done great! You're very talented!"However, the other or other children, in relation to something similar, may receive a simple"It's okay"Sometimes, the father gives these answers in the presence of both brothers creating serious differences in the treatment.

And then there are the classics:

"You'll never get anywhere! You're useless!"

"You give nothing but trouble! I wish you weren't born!"

"Why can't you be more like your (sister / brother / son of a neighbor)?"

Shouting at a child every day and offering the message that he is a bad person and that he is not valued, and that parents regret having brought their child to this world, is an example of a potentially very damaging way of interaction.

First described 25 years ago, psychological abuse has been little recognized, much less denounced, although it has been seen that it can be as harmful as other types of abuse.

Psychological abuse interferes with the development of a child. It has been linked to attachment disorders, development and education problems, socialization problems and disturbing behavior. In addition, the effects of psychological abuse during the first three years of life can be particularly profound.

Although there are few studies on the prevalence of psychological abuse, several studies in Britain and the US they found that around 9% of women and 4% of men declared that they were exposed to "serious" psychological abuse during childhood.

Psychological abuse has a very long lifespan, as the APA report confirms. It was found that "Children who are emotionally abused and neglected suffer from mental health problems, sometimes worse than children who are victims of physical or sexual abuse, however, psychological abuse is rarely addressed in prevention programs or in the treatment of victims. "

The report also noted that children who had been subjected to psychological abuse had high rates of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress and suicide tendency, in some cases, with a higher prevalence than children. They were physically abused. Psychological abuse was more intensely associated with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, attachment problems and substance abuse.


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