Emotional or Psychological Abuse

Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behaviour that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats or rejection, as well as withholding love, support or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove, and child protection agencies may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other types of maltreatment are identified.

Signs of psychological/emotional abuse may include:

  • Child may want distance from the abuser
  • Use of abusive language
  • Overly aggressive behaviour
  • Victim may have some guilt
  • Learned helplessness
  • Overly passive behaviour