Psychological Abuse Abroad

Posted November 14, 2017 from United States
Life Matters

Today I want to share with you facts and statistics about psychological abuse in the United States. There has been a lot of coverage about physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect but what about psychological or emotional abuse?

As a child, I was born to a 35 year old woman who had been sexually abused as a child and received no support from her parents. As a result, she had very low self-esteem and struggled to raise my sister and I with any sort of confidence. She felt protective of my sister because she was born to a different father (who had left my mother after 8 years when he found out that she was pregnant). My father was ecstatic about her pregnancy with me and asked her to marry him. She has since told me that she resented me since the day I was born because once she saw him holding me, she felt that I had taken my father's love away from her. She had a difficult time caring for me as an infant, which disrupted the bonding and attachment that are necessary for a healthy relationship and for my sense of security in the world.

The psychological abuse I experienced was difficult to see outside of my home, except on the rare occasion that she would "act out" towards me in front of others. But at home, I experienced a very different environment. If my sister and I were to get into a fight, my mother would ignore my sister's part in the fight and punish me. I felt very much alone and I was very confused by the hot and cold behavior of my mother. She would push me away when I would try to hug her and then the next day she would feel rejected by me and demand to know why I didn't love her. I never knew if I was coming or going with her. She made many many statements that shook my foundation such as: "If you come home from school one day and I am not here, I want you to know its your fault," "You are not what I would consider pretty, I'd say you are cute," "You are getting heavy like me," "If you go to this university, your father and I will have nothing left, you will have taken every dime we have," "You are a wedge between your father and I," "Your daughter looks like a camel jockey," "You think you are better than me because you keep your house clean," "You think you are better than your sister because your children are from the same father," "Yeah, your house is okay but I still like mine better," "I personally don't care for your wedding dress, it's not what I would have picked," and "you just ruined your life," is what I heard the day I announced I was expecting a baby. And so on....

I grew up struggling to love myself because everything I ever learned about myself from her was conflicting. My father was my saving grace because he did everything in his power to build me up and that furthered her resentment towards me. His unconditional love for me is what saved my life.

I was a mother at the age of 19. I married a young man who didn't know how to genuinely love someone and he was very irresponsible, immature and we struggled for 15 years to keep our heads above water. The one thing was consistent was that I was not going to give up. I was not going to be a negative statistic. I wanted to be a fantastic mother, wife and human being. I wanted to care for other people, work hard, and be successful. I went on to have a successful career in the legal field and then made a career change in my mid thirties to the field of social work. I am currently working on my doctor degree and have successfully raised 3 biological children and 3 stepdaughters with my second husband.

Psychological abuse during childhood is the leading cause of many mental health disorders in adulthood including depression, anxiety and substance use disorder to name a few. It affects the way in which individuals cope and make decisions in life. Out of the three million reported cases of childhood abuse each year, 62% will include psychological abuse but these statistics are applicable to the United States of America.

What is considered psychological abuse in your country?

In America, psychological abuse, also known as psychological maltreatment, psychological violence, mental abuse, or emotional abuse,occurs when some individual subjects another person to behavior that is likely to cause trauma, and is considered to have the most deleterious outcomes of all the forms of child abuse.

How do you define psychological abuse?

This behavior whether itoccursonce or repetitively can cause an individual to develop negative core beliefs about themselves, which then fuels the development of chronic mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress, and adjustment disorders, and substance use disorders, to name a few.

What do you believe is the cause of mental health conditions? Is it genetic, environmental, or a combination of both?

Children exposed to psychological abuse develop into adults with a distorted sense of self, which conflicts with their goals and makes envisioning the future difficult . Young adults exposed to childhood psychological abuse struggle to cope with transitions and major life stressors such as marriage, college, military and parenthood.

How is psychological abuse handled in your country? Is it reportable? Do people acknowledge that it exists? What are the long term effects?

(Lowry, 2013)(Rizvi and Najam, 2014)(Higgins, 2003)(Muller, Thornback and Bedi, 2012)

Beautiful Chaos: Psychological Abuse Abroad

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Nov 15, 2017
Nov 15, 2017

Hi BeautifulChaos, thank you for posting your article and welcome to World Pulse :) Let me answer your question on the - What is the long term effect? If this will not be given attention, and if the person was not healed this bring depression.  A person needs family support with spiritual, emotional and physical healing.

Jill Langhus
Nov 15, 2017
Nov 15, 2017

Hi Beautiful Chaos. Welcome to World Pulse:-) Thanks for sharing your story about abuse and being vulnerable here. Do you have a vision/mission to help GBV girls/women? If so, I'd like to hear about it.