Thursday, October 16, 2014

Child Abuse-Mental and Emotional

Child abuse can be defined as acts of commission or omission which endanger or impair a child's physical or mental health.The abuse could be physical,sexual,emotional or mental.The first two are gross violations of the child's body,mind and soul;while the last two are less  obvious, and intangible in nature.

A thin line demarcates emotional abuse (EA) from mental abuse (MA) but both disrupt the child's psycho-social and physical development and distort his assessment of his own self,his capabilities and his place in the social milieu--thus denying him a fair chance to lead a happy,fulfilling life.
EA disastrously impacts the child's emotional life,he feels unloved,insecure and is unable to relate to people or form close ties even as an adult.
MA is more subtle, it  damages the child's self esteem and self confidence.It kills whatever spark,initiative or exploratory tendencies the child had.

The perpetrator of MA could be a well-meaning parent or caregiver who is a control freak,strict disciplinarian or merely very ambitious of the child's future.
But those who lash out EA on a child are likely to be unhappy,harried, overburdened or disgruntled individuals;or unwilling parents/caregivers.It is also possible that they themselves were the targets of child abuse and know no better.

Both MA and EA cut deep,leaving life-long scars because they come from persons on whom the child relies for his very existence and sustenance.No matter how horrendous the abuse;the child cannot pull back,protect himself,or even express his fury.

Mental Abuse
MA unfolds in the form of undue pressure to perform well,excessive or harsh criticism,negative comparisons,strict discipline,derogatory punishments,total control,not paying attention to the child or cutting off communication to make him tread the stipulated path.The worst kind of MA takes place when the adult does not recognize the child's limitations and pushes him to perform beyond his capacity.

Emotional Abuse
EA is much harsher and negative in nature,as well as in terms of it's effect upon the victim.The child is persistently rejected,called derogatory names,ridiculed,belittled,bullied,threatened,given degrading punishments and never hugged or shown affection.

Physical Ill Effects of Mental or Emotional Abuse
Emotional or mental abuse can damage the child's physical growth and well-being.It can also impair the brain's development and adversely affect his milestones and intelligence.An abused child is more likely to suffer from ill health,a shortened life span and  diminished immunity.
Adult survivors of child abuse are more likely to suffer from diseases like allergies,arthritis,asthma,ulcers and high blood pressure,than others.It has been suggested that they could be more susceptible to cancer too.
Psychological Ill Effects of Mental or Emotional Abuse
It is in the realm of psychology that victims of MA or EA suffer the greatest harm.There is a lack of trust.The child feels insecure and doubts if his parents or caregivers really care for him and will come to his aid when he needs them.This shows up in poor relationships in adult life.

There is loss of self esteem and self-confidence which disrupts the child's evolution as a normal, productive human being and lands him in an unsatisfactory,suboptimal way of life.

An abused child is likely to harbor a lot of suppressed anger and hatred for authority which may instigate him to indulge in anti-social acts or risky behavior.

A victim of MA or EA is vulnerable to many psychiatric disorders.He has lots of suppressed emotions which he dare not voice.As a result he may be overcome by myriad fears and anxieties which could degenerate into mental disorders at the end of the day.The piling up of so many frustrations coupled with a lack-lustre support system  can even push a child or an adult survivor of child abuse to take his own life.

At the end a caveat :--
Parents too are humans.Sundry instances of losing their cool or punishing a child do not count as child abuse;persistent ill-treatment of a child does.If a parent realizes that s/he is too full of anger/hatred towards a child s/he should see a counselor to sort out his/her own emotions.