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What is emotional abuse?

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

What is abuse?

Abuse is any action that intentionally harms or injures another person. The four main types of abuse are physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is deliberately hurting another person - a child, young person, adult through words. It is also know as psychological abuse. The person may experience treatment such as:

  • being humiliated in front of others

  • being criticised constantly

  • making the person the subject of jokes

  • being blamed for things when it is not their fault

  • being made to feel bad about or embarrassed about something they have said

  • being manipulated into thinking a certain way

Signs of emotional abuse on a young person may include:

  • a use of language that is not appropriate to the young person's age

  • behaviour and acting in a way that is not always appropriate to certain situations

  • has knowledge about things that is not appropriate to the young person's age

  • being unable to control their emotions

  • lacking confidence to have/make friends with others their own age

The impact of emotional abuse on a young person's emotional health include:

  • suffering from anxiety - as not sure what they did wrong or how they would do things differently next time

  • unable to sleep - wondering if they are good enough, worried about events coming up if they will be able to do them properly

  • obsessive behaviour - as the young person tries to control what they can

  • low self-esteem - as the young person feels unworthy, stupid, unable to do things on their own

  • depression - as the young person is so unhappy and cannot see a way to change what is happening to them

  • bullying others - as the young person wants someone else to feel the pain that they have

What can a young person do if they are suffering emotional abuse?

  • Tell someone what has been happening - this could be a parent/guardian, a friend, a teacher in school.

  • Consider talking to someone at an organisation that can give advice and help with the bullying experience such as:

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