The beginning of abuse

I am working through definitions of the different types of abuses.  I saved emotional abuse for last since to me it is the beginning to all the other abuses.  Without emotional abuse the other abuses would not happen.  The first step or the beginning of abuse is to view the child as less than human.  Perhaps the parent sees the child as interfering with their life, or perhaps their view is the child is not what they wanted (example, they wanted a girl and got a boy or visa versa.)  or the child is blamed for their problems or….or….or…..the reasons children are thought of as less than are many and varied.  My mistake in life was being born a girl to parents that wanted all boys.  Dave Pelzer’s case his mother went so far as to call him “It.”  A Child Called It by Dave Pelzer.  Something less than is a target to those that consider themselves superior.

Another source of problems is the difficulty for an emotionally unstable parent to provide the stability a child needs.  As I became healthier I recognized some of the horrific mistakes I made as a parent due to how emotionally closed off and unstable I was.  I didn’t know how to teach my children about healthy emotions when I was so emotionally damaged myself.  Boundaries were an unknown entity for me so it was difficult for me to teach healthy boundaries to my children.  I feel deep regret for the many mistakes I made as a parent.

Ignorance is another source of problems and beginning of abuse for a child.  A neighbor I talked to lost their child to protective services because she didn’t know the basics of caring for child.  She didn’t know what was wrong when she fed her child when ever she felt hungry.  The basics that an infant need to eat more frequently was totally unknown to her.  Took the State taking her child to motivate her to get parenting classes.

One of the most abused phrases ever is the glib, “Well they did the best they knew how.”  Horse hockey…..ever had that little voice in your head go off and remind you that you are being a totally idiot as you yell at a child?  Or recognized that you were nicer to your neighbor than your own child?  Or that moment when you know better but you don’t do better?  Parents mess up, it is like some hidden code or glitch programed into every parent to screw up with their children.  We don’t always do the best we know how.  However, emotional abuse takes the further step to persistently and consistently demean, criticize and humiliate your own child.  It is systematic and pervasive.

As I read this definition of emotional abuse, the flaw in the language is being able to observe the change in the child.  It excludes all the children that are abused from the day they are born…so no change is observed because it is all they know.

Typical language used in these definitions is “injury to the psychological capacity or emotional stability of the child as evidenced by an observable or substantial change in behavior, emotional response, or cognition” and injury as evidenced by “anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or aggressive behavior.
This next definition is very broad but covers the subject more completely:
emotional abuse
the debasement of a person’s feelings that causes the individual to perceive himself or herself as inept, not cared for, and worthless.
Sadly this definition would hit so many homes.  From this same site:
Pediatrics The infliction of ‘…coercive, demeaning, or overly distant behavior by a parent or other caretaker that interferes with a child’s normal social or psychological development…’ See Child abuse, Elderly abuse, Psychological abuse.
I looked further to other sources of defining emotional abuse. I found several noteworthy pages:
“Emotional abuse is the systematic diminishment of another. It may be intentional or subconscious (or both), but it is always a course of conduct, not a single event. It is designed to reduce a child’s self-concept to where the victim considers himself unworthy—unworthy of respect, unworthy of friendship, unworthy of the natural birthright of children: love and protection.” (child advocate, lawyer, and author Andrew Vachss, You Carry the Cure in Your Own Heart essay)
Before every child decides their parent was emotionally abusive take a look at the systematic word.  That means a consistent long term way of treating a child.  The Invisible scar article explains it in a fairly clear way.
I also believe that part of it is a parent that when confronted with their behavior either denies everything or feels justified in their treatment of the child.  I lost all desire to remain it contact with my mother when I confronted her about using threats of suicide when I was teenager.  The contempt and ridicule she poured out on me that A. I was stupid enough to believe her B. that she felt any means to control me was her choice, and C. Of course I should fully understand that what she did was acceptable.  NO.  Just NO.  The only way to protect myself from further abuse was to go no contact since she has no intention to change her behavior towards me, no remorse over the damage done, and no desire to change.  It was a humbling experience for me to see that my mother truly saw me as less than human and deserving nothing but treated as an object to control by any means available.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but name calling leaves hidden scars that last much longer than broken bones.

4 thoughts on “The beginning of abuse

  1. Brilliant. I love the awareness of emotional abuse as the gateway for all other abuse. So true and yet it’s still the invisible wound.

  2. Pingback: The beginning of abuse — PTSD – Accepting, Coping, Thriving – Amber Buczynski's blog

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