Emotional Abuse Harder To Recognize, Just As Damaging


Over the next 12 months, there is something that will be reported on more than 2 million times and result in roughly 1,500 deaths. While those figures suggest this is certainly not a silent problem, for many victims it is.

Despite the millions of reported cases each year, child abuse and neglect often goes overlooked. While physical scars are difficult to look past, emotional abuse can be just as scarring, yet far more difficult to recognize.

Part of the problem with child abuse and neglect is its prevalence. Consider the state of Missouri, which the Child Abuse Prevention Association (CAPA) reports has approximately 10,000 children in its child protection system that have suffered abuse or neglect. Combine that with dwindling state budgets, and many cases of abuse can go unrecognized or overlooked.

In addition to writing local legislators and demanding more resources be allotted to abuse and neglect prevention agencies, those concerned about children and their well-being can take a more active role simply by becoming more informed about child abuse, particularly emotional abuse, which even clinicians admit is far more difficult to recognize than physical abuse.

Many times, emotional child abuse exhibits itself through a child's behavior and personality.

  • Loyalty: Despite the abuse, children are often extremely loyal to their abuser, particularly if that abuser is a parent.
  • Maturity level: This can go one of two ways, according to Prevent Child Abuse America. A child can either act overly mature for his or her age or begin to exhibit immature behavior that is inappropriate.
  • Dramatic shift in behavior: This is among the most noticeable indicators of emotional abuse, and can include disruption of activities, clinging or compulsive behavior with respect to seeking affection or attention.
  • Antisocial behavior: Another of the more recognizable indicators is when children act sad and withdrawn from their peers.
  • Unnatural fears for kids their age: Most children grow out of certain fears, such as the fear of being left alone. Children suffering from emotional abuse either revert back to these fears or never grow out of them at all, and often are fearful of going home.

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