When we consider abuse, we frequently presume it involves physical injury, such as sexual abuse or being hit, punched, kicked, slapped, restrained, etc. We rarely think of abuse as something other than a physical act of pain when we hear the phrase. However, abuse is frequently emotional or psychological. It is equally harmful, if not more so.

Dr. Marie-France Hirigoyen, a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, writes in her book, Stalking the Soul, that although emotional abuse is less obvious than physical abuse, it is just as severe and more pervasive.

It is also more likely to go unnoticed because, according to Hirigoyen, "society turns a blind eye to this subtle type of violence," which she compares to "virtual soul murder."

Psychological abuse can be difficult to detect because there are no wounds, bruises, or other visible signs of abuse, yet the damage produced by psychological violence is severe.

Here, we examine the effects of psychological aggression on adolescents. What happens to an adult whose childhood was marred by emotional abuse and trauma? What damage is done?

What Is Psychological Violence?

Psychological violence is the intentional use of words and non-physical actions to manipulate, harm, weaken, or terrify a person's mind and emotions. Intentionally distorting, confusing, or influencing a person's ideas and emotions to their detriment constitutes psychological abuse.

There are numerous actions that qualify as psychologically aggressive. These include frequent criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding affection, assistance, or direction. Or, the abuser may purposefully attempt to frighten, humiliate, isolate, or disregard the youngster. They may call the youngster derogatory names, make them the target of jokes, blame and scapegoat them, yell at them, and even force them to commit humiliating behaviours.

Emotional abuse also includes not allowing a child to have friends, manipulating them, pushing them too hard, or failing to foster their development.

There are numerous ways in which people harm children psychologically. Some acts of emotional abuse are overt and harsh, while others are far more subtle. For example, violating the privacy of a toddler or adolescent is emotionally abusive.

The Long-Term Consequences Of Psychological Violence

The advancements in neuroscience, molecular biology, genetics, developmental psychology, epidemiology, sociology, and economics are altering our understanding of health and disease throughout our lifetime. Early experiences can leave a lasting imprint on brain architecture and long-term health, according to research on the consequences of childhood trauma and toxic stress on later life. A child's emotional development and sense of self-worth are inhibited by psychological aggression. Such childhood maltreatment has physical, psychological, and behavioural repercussions. In addition, it imposes costs on society as a whole. The more dysfunctional we get, the more damaged we are.

Psychological Problems

Abuse in children can have long-lasting negative impacts on social, emotional, and physical health and development. It can lead to challenges with aggression, difficulty expressing or controlling emotions, an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and health problems, and difficulty sustaining good relationships.

Childhood maltreatment is also an important risk factor for the development of PTSD. PTSD symptoms include outbursts of anger, being easily startled, negative thoughts, nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, and physical symptoms such as shortness of breath or rapid heartbeat.

Attachment Disorder

When children are molested, they may exhibit atypical attachment styles and emotional response patterns. It has an effect on how the child and later adults interact with others. This type of exposure during childhood can inhibit the formation of brain connections for language and higher cognitive skills. This insecure attachment hinders emotional regulation, encourages poor self-perceptions, and impairs social functioning and the ability to form deep adult bonds.

Behavioural Consequences

The research on the behavioural effects of child abuse identifies "persistent problems with emotional regulation, self-concept, social skills, and academic motivation, as well as serious learning and adjustment problems, such as academic failure, severe depression, aggressive behaviour, peer difficulties, substance abuse, and delinquency."

Adults who were emotionally abused as children may exhibit abnormal behaviours such as being too clingy with friends and lovers, intentionally behaving in a way that makes others dislike them, not caring what happens to them, or engaging in risky behaviours such as substance misuse. Childhood trauma has been related to a variety of poor outcomes in adulthood, including alcoholism.

Victims of abuse are also more likely to develop eating disorders, self-harm, and/or suicidal ideation. Research demonstrates that emotional child maltreatment has a strong comorbid psychopathological link with eating disorders, particularly anorexia nervosa.

The Impact On Physical Health

A recent study indicates there is also cause for concern over less obvious negative consequences for a child's physical health in the decades to come. The study of the disruptive effects of toxic stress in children provides important insights into the causal pathways that relate early adversity to later deficits in learning, behaviour, and physical and mental health. According to research, many adult diseases are related to early-onset developmental problems.

Treatment at ABHASA

Childhood emotional abuse is one form of trauma that requires a lengthy healing process. Feelings of shame and guilt are present in nearly all cases of emotional abuse, making it very difficult for the victim to speak up.

Here at Abhasa luxury rehabilitation centre, we use a combination of psychiatry, psychotherapy, and orthomolecular medicine to assist our clients shed their protective masks.

The reasons for our patients' chronic stress are investigated using a multidisciplinary and integrative strategy. Our upscale, private environment is conducive to the utmost confidentiality, making us the ideal place for those in need of a calming environment in which to heal from mental illness.

Prepared by: Ms.Nivedha L Narayanan, Centre Head at Abhasa Rehabilitation and Wellness Home
LinkedIn Id: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nivedha-l-narayanan-1781b6120/