The Effects of Emotional Abuse

The effects of emotional abuse can be difficult to determine in children as the effects may be short-termed in some or long-termed in others and surface later in life. 

The severity of the effects depends on the relationship the child has with the abuser.  If the relationship is close such as an authority figure or parent the more severe the effect.

Everyone is different and unique in their own way.  Therefore, the effect of emotion abuse on children and adolescents may differ from one child to another, even if the abuse was the same or very similar.  Emotional child abuse affects how children and adolescents view themselves, others, their overall perception of life and how they view the world they live in.

The Short-Term And Long-Term Effects Of Emotional Abuse

Short-Term Effects

  • Aggression
  • Confession and surprise
  • Passive/Compliant
  • Eye contact avoidance
  • Speech disorders
  • Developmental delays
  • Failure to thrive
  • Infantile behavior: needy, clingy
  • Forming habits such as rocking, sucking, pulling out hair
  • Delinquent behavior
  • Cruelty:  takes pleasure from hurting people or animal


Long-Term Effects

  • Aggression
  • Low self esteem
  • Negative self perception
  • Depression
  • Emotional instability
  • Self destructive behavior
  • Eating disorders, leading to anorexia, bulimia or obesity)
  • Substance abuse (alcohol, drugs or both)
  • Self mutilation
  • Personality disorder
  • Criminal behavior
  • Cruelty:  takes pleasure from hurting people or animal


The Invisible Scars

Emotional child abuse may be difficult to discern but is just as consequential as physical or sexual abuse. 

It is not only cruel but decimates a child sense of worth and they grow up feeling unloved, unworthy, anxious and fearful of their world. 

It affects the emotional, psychological, cognitive and social development of a child.

Children are impressionable and adults and authority figures play a crucial role in shaping how they view the world.

While some children live in a carefree world, playing and discovering the world they live in, others are not so lucky and live with a constant internal struggle.

Adults who were the victims of emotional child abuse can be drawn and involved in abusive relationships.  As a child, you are taught that abusive behavior and relationships are acceptable. 

It is difficult to build loving, meaning and non-abusive relationships, intimate or otherwise, when your most important and earliest relationship where abusive, destructive and almost destroyed you as a human being.


Return to the top of the page on the Effects of Emotional Abuse here.