Emotional Child Abuse: Challenging the Limited Definition

by Cindy
(Edinboro, Pennsylvania, USA)

Concerning Alienated Children: 
"Emotional child abuse is defined as the constant attack of a child or youth by an adult that negatively affects the child or youth's self-worth. It is important to note here the word 'constant'. With emotional abuse, the child/youth receives only negative messages, nothing positive."


I cut the above from your post. I want to inform people that when a parent denigrates the other, especially when motivated by child support, revenge, spite...it is emotional child abuse. One parent does not stop until the child severs ties from the other parent and their family. It is painful to see how a child can be ruined by the behavior of a parent that is supposed to love them. I have seen the horrible affects for 17 years but can do little about it. I can only monitor my response, which has not been easy and without repercussion. A target parent cannot defend themselves against lies. The child is, in a sense, brainwashed. The best way to understand this type of abuse is to read about it.

Please pray for all children abused in this way.

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Comments for Emotional Child Abuse: Challenging the Limited Definition

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Apr 17, 2009
Defining the definition of emotional child abuse...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Cindy, I understand where you're coming from. When I first learned of it, I too felt that the definition of emotional child abuse seemed too narrow and defined, especially in light of the various types of emotional abuse. I've posted the accepted (in some places, legally accepted) definition of emotional child abuse as it has been adopted by leading and renowned professionals in the field of child studies, child abuse and child neglect. It is the definition by which social workers often determine whether or not a child is being emotionally abused in the home which would require action that would protect that child from harm. There had to be a definition that clearly separated situations where parents and caregivers might have crossed a line, perhaps due to having had a bad day (all parents have bad days) vs the constant emotional abuse that seriously affects the mental health of the child. Please do not misunderstand...this rather extreme definition does not mean that individual incidents', or that a prolonged specific type of emotional child abuse do not have severe repercussions on the child. You're living proof of that, Cindy. But it is a very complicated issue, especially when you add to the fact that emotional child abuse is the most difficult of the abuses to prove, in part because every child responds differently to every situation.

When a parent denigrates the other parent in front of their child, they change who that child is. And when a parent goes further by systematically assassinating the character of the other parent to the child, that parent robs that child of a loving and nurturing relationship with the other parent. And while such incidents can by broader definition be characterized as a form of emotional abuse, on its own, it would not typically require the intervention of a child protection agency. For more information about what constitutes emotional child abuse, I suggest going to my page titled types of emotional abuse, in particular, witnessing spousal violence. It is important to note that spousal violence can also be emotional violence, not just physical.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this important issue, Cindy.

A Video Reading by Darlene Barriere
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Apr 17, 2009
To Cindy:
by: maurice

Cindy, thank you for sharing one of what I have experienced as being the most hidden forms of abuse in families and our society. From my rural humble home here in Ireland to larger towns and cities I have worked with families and experienced loads of it. This certainly would be number one hidden abuse. No one is the winner as parents whose duty it is to nuture and love each other and pass on together that Love to their children. Confusing the child or children to side with with him/her the to denigrade the other. The one who denigrades is a bully/control freak while the on who is denigraded in this way goes deepep and deeper in low,low self esteem with no fight back. the innocent childs mind is ruined maybe for life or if not a good part of it. it creates in the child a false sense of love by the one who spends their time making the other a weaker person every chance they get, to even getting the innocent child to say yes you are no good. Oh Cindy, again thanks to Darlene's site you have shared and highlighted this form of abuse with your honest thoughts and feelings on it. Well done. You will get people talking/dicussing and making a start to find ways and means of educationg people who do this to each other. Helping the child or children who suffer emotionally long term taking years to accept that the parent who was denigrated against is the all loving one and not the Low self worth victim. Thank you again Cindy.

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