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Emotional Abuse

It is reported that almost 75% of teenage girls and 50% of teenage boys have experienced emotional abuse in a relationship, and every 1 in 11 adults (approximately 3.8 million) in England and Wales report having experienced emotional abuse from a parent before the age of 16 years.

Emotional abuse has been a rising cause of concern over the years and with the last year being largely spent indoors, this has only increased. The events that take place behind closed doors cannot be changed without awareness and understanding. Therefore, in order to take the first step into preventing the effects of emotional abuse in children and teenagers, it must be defined and understood.

Defined as the continual emotional damage of an individual often characterised by humiliation and attempts to undermine, emotional abuse is also known as psychological abuse. Emotional abuse can be categorised into three main sub-groups – verbal abuse, rejection and gaslighting. Verbal abuse involves attempting to subdue or hurt through strongly worded speech. Rejection occurs when any idea voiced by the child is rejected without consideration, giving no value to their opinions or thoughts. Gaslighting takes place when the child or teenager is led to believe that their thoughts and opinions are inconsequent; in extreme cases this may even lead to them doubting their own mental stability. Emotional abuse also involves other aspects such as public humiliation, bullying and intimidation. While it is difficult to frame the exact definition of abuse, it is possible to identify which acts are considered to fall under emotional abuse. Moreover, while an act may not be seen as abusive at first glance, it may have devastating repercussions for the child who is subject to it. Such acts include casual put-downs that may seem harmless but actually work to destroy the child’s sense of self-esteem and self-worth.

It is important to emphasise that emotional abuse need not be practiced over a long period of time for it to make an impact on a child’s life. A few minutes of bullying or g