Saturday, September 08, 2012
The Effects Mental Abuse Have on Children
What is Mental Abuse?
Mental abuse, which is also referred to as emotional or psychological abuse, is a behavior that exposes another person to psychological trauma such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), chronic depression, or nervousness (Allister 129). Such behaviors are usually perpetrated by people who are at a more powerful position than the victim, i.e. a teacher to a student, a manager to a rank-and-file employee, parent to a child, an older sibling to a younger one, etc. This power imbalance is usually due to age, work position, social or family hierarchy, economic status, etc (Cooper 7). While the scope of mental abuse is wide, there is still no consensus among experts on how to define mental abuse. Because of this, there are different existing definitions of mental abuse. However, the prevalent measures are made up of roughly 20 specific aggressive behaviors that fall under verbal aggression, jealous behaviors, and dominant behaviors (Smith, Heyman, and Snarr 783-4).
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, mental abuse are inflicted through the use of threat of physical harm, fear by intimidation, forced isolation, and destruction of property. Some researchers argue that isolated cases of aggressive behavior cannot be considered mental abuse. This is unlike physical abuse where a single incident of physical harm constitute physical abuse. This means that mental abuse, to be considered such, should be a sustained pattern of aggressive behavior/s inflicted upon a victim repeatedly (Smith, Heyman, and Snarr 787). Prevalence of the Problem
According to reports, abused children consists of 48% males and 51% females. Victims are more likely to be children whose ages are from birth to 3 years old, and the rate is a bothering 17% of children in the U.S. Other reports state that around 50% of abused children were white, around 24% were black, around 18% were Hispanic/Latinos, around 2% were Alaska Natives and American Indians, and around 1% were Asian-Pacific Islanders. It is also reported that children with chronic illnesses or disabilities are twice more likely to suffer from abuse as compared to the average children. From among these statistics, 7% of the reported cases of child abuse are mental abuses. However, because of the lack of specific definition of this type of abuse and the lack of physical evidences in cases of mental abuse, it is tough to determine how many cases of this abuse really exist (Smith, Heyman, and Snarr 787-9).
Some researchers claim that over 40% of the cases of abuse in children consists of more than one type of abuse, and one of the commonly reported child maltreatment that go along with other types of abuse are the unsuitable interactions with a child such as rejection, unresponsiveness, and emotional unavailability (Smith, Heyman, and Snarr 791 & Hearn 715-6). 42% of abused children are reported to have experienced such interactions from their abusers --- and such interactions, when sustained and repeated, can constitute mental abuse (Allister 129). If one would go along these figures, the cases of mental abuse among abused children can easily rise from it being the main form of abuse at 7%, to it being a secondary form of abuse at over 40%. Characteristics of Abusers
One of the main motivation for mental abuse is the desire of the abuser to destroy the self-esteem of and exercise control over the victims. Mentally abusive behaviors fall under two categories: neglectful and intentional. Neglectful abusive behaviors include distancing one’s self from the victim or refusing to acknowledge the victim’s emotions. These behaviors are among the hardest to detect because people who act this way may not see them as abusive, but rather merely part of their character. Intentional abusive behaviors include more aggression on the part of the abuser that aims to deliberately harm the...