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In the religious setting, an additional layer of harm arises owing to the overlay of a religious order, and sometimes the seeming justification of the abuse in reliance on the religious organization's alleged dogma. When it is realised that the abuse was wrong, the emotional damage is amplified by religion's impact.


Of course, emotional abuse can occur in any context, but it is especially common when the abuser has power over his or her victim. Gaslighting is a term used to describe psychological manipulation, which occurs frequently in the setting of a marriage when one spouse belittles and destroys the other's self-esteem in order to obtain complete control over them in a brutal manner.


Emotional abuse, often known as psychological abuse, is a form of mental abuse. Some youngsters are subjected to psychologically harmful behaviours, which can lead to a loss of confidence and self-worth.

It can include the intentional inflicting of emotional distress by threat, humiliation, insult, or other nonverbal interaction. Yet, emotional abuse can be delivered accidentally and still cause emotional injury to the child, such as informing a child that their actions were unplanned or a mistake.

Because of the abuser's violation of trust to the child, emotional abuse comprises all types of childhood abuse. A youngster who is sexually or physically mistreated, for example, is almost guaranteed to suffer psychological consequences as well.


Emotional abuse can frequently be far more severe than allegedly more serious sexual abuse, owing to the effect it has on the mind, especially when it occurs over a long period of time.

Bullying in school, for example, would be considered emotional abuse because the perpetrator is a fellow child rather than an adult.

Emotional abuse can occur in family settings (or at school or in nursing homes) where there is a climate of dread, berating, humiliation, name calling, and cruel taunting. Once again, it includes one person wielding disproportionate authority and control over another, resulting in psychological suffering.

In Children's Homes, for example, it was fairly uncommon for a care provider to verbally abuse children, telling them they were worthless and unloved by their parents, and to humiliate them, which might have a more severe effect than physical or sexual abuse.

We thank NAPAC (National Association for Prevention of Abuse in Childhood) for allowing us to use this and other definitions. 

"What can emotional abuse include?

  • Threats
  • Name calling
  • Silent treatment / ignoring a child
  • Public and/or private ridicule / humiliation
  • Withholding love and affection
  • Constant put-downs
  • Frightening & intimidating a child
  • Caregivers abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Giving conflicting and/or inconsistent messages
  • Being treated differently from siblings
  • Witnessing Domestic Violence 

What effects does emotional abuse have on a victim?

  • Low self esteem
  • Attachment Disorder
  • Depression
  • Anti-Authoritarian attitude and possible an anti-social personality disorder
  • Paranoia
  • Insecurity
  • Repressed anger
  • Other forms of mental disorder

What prevents a victim of emotional abuse coming forward for many years until later in life?

  • A fear that they will not be believed
  • Threats by the abuser
  • A desire not to split up the family
  • Shame or embarrassment
  • They think they are to blame.
  • Threats that a pet or loved one will be harmed.
  • They don’t have the words to describe or explain the abuse.
  • Feel powerless to stop the abuse"


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Obviously this advice is not intended to replace legal advice, nor can we guarantee that the information on the site is completely up to date. Thus we can accept no responsibility legally for any reliance upon it. It is intended to be merely guidance. For a legal opinion upon which you may rely, we insist that you contact us by email or fill in our form