What is emotional abuse?
Subjecting someone to a behavioral pattern that psychologically traumatizes him to a point where his cognitive, emotional, social, and psychological development is hampered is called emotional abuse, or psychological maltreatment.
There are different ways in which a child can be abused emotionally, most common being neglect, verbal abuse, constant criticism, rejection, isolation, ignorance, etc. Some parents go to the extent of forcing their child to do horrible and self-degrading tasks, just for their sadistic pleasure. When a child, especially one who is still in his/her formative years, is exposed to such cruelty, he/she grows up to become a complete emotional wreck. Children whose childhoods have been traumatized by emotional abuse, are at a higher risk of developing issues about trusting people, and may also harbor many psychological problems.
There are many reasons why a child or a teen is subjected to emotional abuse. In most cases, it is because the parents themselves are emotionally disturbed, depressed, have low self-esteem, are going through a divorce, experiencing domestic violence, etc. Even if a parent is going through a tough time at work or with his/her spouse, emotionally abusing the child is not the answer. Many children and teens suffer abuse because they do not know what to do about it, how to react, and deal with an emotionally abusive parent. There are different stages to emotional abuse, and a child can put a stop to it during any stage. Keeping that in mind, this Buzzle article annotates the ways in which a child can deal with a parent who subjects it to psychological maltreatment, in its various stages.
Dealing With Emotional Aspersion in its Early Stages
Understanding the Cause Behind the Abuse
Being a child, it is difficult to fathom the fact that your parents are treating you indifferently. What you need to do, is look past the emotional neglect and abuse, and try to find the reason behind it. This is the first step towards dealing with an emotionally abusive parent. If you know why your parent treats you badly, you can help him overcome the insecurities or problems he is facing. The sad part is that parents who emotionally abuse their child may have been emotionally abused as well. So, they vent out their insecurities and frustration on the child, unknowingly. Be the one to initiate a conversation. Sit down and have a civilized chat with your parent.
Securing Your Parent's Emotional Needs
Insecurity is something that everyone goes through in all walks of life, and at all ages. Identifying the reason why your parent is insecure, is of great help. Once a child identifies why the parent is insecure, it can work towards securing his parent's emotional needs, by reassuring and always being there for the parent. A child can take the first step towards helping his parent out by trying to bond with him. A healthy conversation, and a nudge in the right direction, especially by the child, is what an emotionally deprived parent needs.
Maintaining a Diary
Sometimes, it can be very frustrating to always be there for your parents, especially when they are meant to be there for you. At times like these, maintain a diary, and write down what you feel should be done, or what you wish to tell them. You need an outlet to voice or express your thoughts and feelings, and a diary is the safest option. Many children turn to self-harm, alcohol, or drugs, to distract themselves from the emotional pain that they go through, but doing so is a sign of weakness, and should never be done. Everyone going through any sort of emotional ups and downs needs a platform, to vent out their grief and heartache. Channeling your emotions through a medium like writing, drawing, or music, really helps keep the mind calm and collected.
When it Starts Getting Too Much
Voicing Your Discomfort
Often times, parents unknowingly subject their child to criticism, character degradation, and/or verbal assault. In such situations, losing your temper and answering back at the parent in question is not the solution. Instead, you should, in an assertive manner, tell the parent that you feel hurt. Explaining to the parent, the amount of grief and mental turmoil the child is going through, is always a good idea. Keep a cool head and wait for your parent to be done with his rant, and then tell him your views on the emotional abuse that you are being subjected to.
Seeking Professional Aid
If you are constantly being berated by your parent, and no matter what you do, he does not stop, it is time you seek professional help, or you ask your parent to seek it. Tell your parent that you would like him to talk to someone about his problems. Make him understand how important it is to you and him if he seeks professional help. Arrange for sessions, and attend them with your parent. If your parent is not open to the idea of seeking help, or is in denial, you should talk to your counselor about it. Telling a professional how you feel and why you feel so, will help you cope with the stress that you experience.
Talking to Friends or Relatives, and Giving Yourself Pep Talks
Sometimes, it is not easy talking to a counselor, therefore, talking to a friend, close relative, or even the other parent helps. Be frank about what you feel, and do not be afraid to ask for a solution to your problem. Everyone needs a safe place to land when they are troubled, and relying on a friend, or a close relative is the best possible solution. The more you talk and voice out your problems, the better you would feel. You need to understand that it is never your fault. You are on the receiving end of emotional abuse because your parent is the weak one. Do not cry, as it will not help anything. Always remind yourself that you are important, you matter, and you love yourself. You need to tell yourself that you are never alone, and keep reminding yourself that you have people to talk to and share your sorrows with. Condition your mind to ignore all the harsh words that come your way.
When Things Get Out of Control
Removing Yourself From the Premises
If things are getting a little too much out of hand, and if you feel that the abuse is just escalating, get away from it. Sometimes, running away is the best solution. I do not under any circumstances mean running away from your house, what I mean is for the time being, stay over at a friend's house or go for a long walk and sort out your emotions. If you have younger siblings, and your parent is emotionally ramming you, then, as soon as you can take the young ones to a secure location, away from the verbal assault.
Calling the Police or Other Authorities
If the emotional slandering has gotten to the point where you just cannot take it anymore, call the police. Report your parent for emotional abuse, and seek legal help. This step should be taken only and only if you fear that the emotional abuse will turn physical, and if you have no other way out. Talk to your relatives, counselor, or the parent that does not emotionally abuse you, before taking any rash decisions.
As I said above, you need to keep reminding yourself that you are important, and you need to tune out the harsh words said to you. Try to ignore the name-calling, abuses, insults, etc., as much as you can. Never, under any circumstances, think of running away, or getting into bad habits, as the repercussions of these could be worse than emotional abuse. If you know any one who is going through any form of emotional abuse at the hands of his parents, please help them out. You may save a life by doing so.