Childhood Abuses: Sometimes emotional more harmful than sexual or physical

I can identify with this article, as I too was emotionally and sexually abused.  Because of the sexual abuse, I’m still pondering if the emotional abuse would have still taken place or if that was the reason.  My mother was toxic, what spewed out of her mouth was hurtful, undeserved and damaging;  I still hear those words in my mind today.  ~~ Deb

Children who are emotionally abused and neglected face similar and sometimes worse mental health problems as children who are physically or sexually abused, yet psychological abuse is rarely addressed in prevention programs or in treating victims, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

“Given the prevalence of childhood psychological abuse and the severity of harm to young victims, it should be at the forefront of mental health and social service training,” said study lead author Joseph Spinazzola, PhD, of The Trauma Center at Justice Resource Institute, Brookline, Massachusetts. The article appears in a special online issue of the APA journalPsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy.

Researchers used the National Child Traumatic Stress Network Core Data Set to analyze data from 5,616 youths with lifetime histories of one or more of three types of abuse: psychological maltreatment (emotional abuse or emotional neglect), physical abuse and sexual abuse. The majority (62 percent) had a history of psychological maltreatment, and nearly a quarter (24 percent) of all the cases were exclusively psychological maltreatment, which the study defined as care-giver inflicted bullying, terrorizing, coercive control, severe insults, debasement, threats, overwhelming demands, shunning and/or isolation.

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4 thoughts on “Childhood Abuses: Sometimes emotional more harmful than sexual or physical

  1. lyndyh says:

    I was emotionally / psychologically abused by my mother who left my father when I was three and brought me up as a single parent living a hedonistic lifestyle. The abuse took the form of neglect and the way she managed to pass on her shame, secrets and lies onto me, the innocent child. She ‘squashed’ and silenced me.
    Thank you for this post and for bringing out onto the open this issue.


  2. crazyvphd says:

    I was never physically or sexually abused as a child, only emotionally abused by my father. His words and actions still ring in my mind almost every day; his words became my identity. I can’t say it was worse than physical or sexual abuse since I have not experienced it, but I can say it has damaged my life beyond belief. I also used to wish he would just hit me so that the pain would be “real.” thanks for sharing this


    • cherished79 says:

      Words can stay in your mind for life, even if it’s only a few words. My mother repeatedly reminded me of my weight, spiteful words, obviously more concerned about my body image than me as a person, and those hurtful words still sting to this day. Perhaps I was an embarrassment to her, saying “you’ll never get married if you don’t lose weight”. (I’ve been married for over 36 years). Your dad’s words proved abusive, obviously uncaring about the damage he’s done. Are you in contact with him now? I broke off ties with my toxic mother finally, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made.


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