According to ChildHelp, the largest organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect, the definition of child abuse is when a parent or caregiver causes (or threatens) injury, death or emotional harm to a child.
Though this definition is accurate, it’s also a bit vague. Like most things, “harm” exists on a spectrum, so it may feel tricky deciding what is “poor parenting” and what constitutes actual abuse. Because the distinction isn’t always clear cut, we wanted to share a tool with you that might help you understand the dynamics of parent/caregiver abuse with more clarity. If you are a survivor of childhood trauma, this chart might aid your healing process.
The Power and Control Wheel for abuse of children, created by Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP), is a simple chart that outlines behaviors that constitute abuse. The outer ring of the chart lists acts of physical violence (left side) and acts of sexual violence (right side). Examples of physical violence include: choking, twisting arms, pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching, and the examples of sexual violence include committing incest, sexual touching/kissing and sexualizing children’s behavior.
You can see the chart below, or download your own copy in your preferred language here.
The inner circle of the chart is divided up into seven parts, and encompasses classic behaviors that constitute psychological violence abusive caregivers can inflict on children. All seven of these power and control tactics can fly under the radar, leaving children feeling confused and powerless to prevent the abuse they experience. We’ve broken down each behavior below.
1. Using Institutions
The first section of the chart talks about the use of institutions to maintain power over a child. This could look like threatening punishment byan outside entity (example: “God will punish you for the sin of disobeying your parent”) or threatening punishment with an institution (example: “If you don’t behave, I will send you to live with your mean Aunt Hilda”). Other examples of institutions an abusive parent might use to control a child include threatening punishment by/with:
- Juvenile detention
- Foster homes
According to the nonprofit Prevent Child Abuse America, adults who use isolation to control their children cut them off from normal social experiences, prevent them from forming friendships and encourage the child to believe they are alone in the world. This may also include controlling access to the child’s other parent, siblings, grandparents or other adults.
3. Emotional Abuse
Unlike physical and sexual abuse, which are two fairly easy-to-categorize types of abuse, emotional abuse can be a little trickier to define. Essentially, emotional abuse refers to a pattern of behavior that causes psychological harm to another person, usually involving verbal degradation and the exploitation of an unequal power dynamic. Some common examples of emotionally abusive behaviors caregivers may engage in include:
- Put downs and name-calling
- Using children as confidants
- Using children to get or give information to the other parent
- Being emotionally inconsistent
- Shaming children
4. Economic Abuse
Economic abuse refers to a caregiver maintaining power and control by exploiting a child’s financial dependence on them. Some behaviors that would fall under the economic abuse category can include:
- Withholding basic needs from a child like food, clothing, shelter or medication
- Using money to control behavior
- Squandering family money
- Withholding child support
- Using children as an economic bargaining chip in divorce
Parental abuse isn’t always literal harm, sometimes it looks like the parent creating a climate of fear by threatening to harm the child, others, their pets or even themselves. Some common examples of threats caregivers use to assert power and control over their children include:
- Threatening to abandon the child
- Threatening to die by suicide
- Threatening physical harm, confinement or harm to other loved ones
6. Using Adult Privilege
In all types of abuse, there is an actual or perceived imbalance of power. In the case of parent-child abuse, a parent or caregiver will use their status as an autonomous adult to inappropriately control a child. When questioned by the child, an abusive parent who uses their adult privilege might say something along the lines of, “Because I’m the parent, and you’re the child,” or “Because I said so.” Examples of misuse of adult privilege include:
- Treating children as servants
- Punishing a child inappropriately or more often than necessary
- Bossing around a child
- Always “winning” arguments
- Denying a child’s input on visitation and custody decisions
- Constantly interrupting a child
Intimidation is the use of fear to assert power or control over another person. In cases of parental abuse, this might look like:
- Instilling fear through looks, actions and gestures
- Destroying a child’s property
- Using adult size to intimidate (for example, standing over a child)
- Being violent to the other parent, pets, etc.
If you are a survivor of childhood trauma and recognize any of the behaviors mentioned above, you’re not alone. The trauma you experienced was not your fault, and you deserved better treatment growing up. The good news is it’s never too late to heal from trauma. With the help of a trauma-informed therapist (check out this helpful tool to find one), you can heal from past childhood wounds.
To connect with other survivors who understand, we encourage you to post on The Mighty with the hashtag #TraumaSurvivors. Whatever you’re facing today, you don’t have to go through it alone.
متى عليك أن تغضب؟
الفرق بين إنسان بيلعب لعبة السيطرة غير الإنسان المتمرس المحترف في اللعب وهو ده مصدر قوته.
اللعبة هنا هي عن التنمر وهو مجرد لعبة حيوانيه من إستعراض القوى بين طرفين متشابهين هتنتهي بمجرد تساوى القوى …وده ممكن لما تتعلم تتحكم في غضبك…لأنها مجرد لعبة.
أما abusing فده فيلم تاني…..الموضوع اتحول من مجرد لعبة صراع القوى إلى حيوان مفترس وقع تحت إيده فريسة….حاجه مقززة ….هنا مينفعش تسكت وتتحكم في غضبك ومينفعش تتكلم بإنفعال ….هنا غضبك مطلوب ….بس غضب لنفسك مش غضب انفعالي….هنا لازم تدور على مساعده أوعى تحاول لوحدك….
شوف الفيديو ده:
There is a strong link between anxiety and long-term mental abuse. Chronic stress and trauma lead to various mental disorders, one of which is anxiety. However, many people overlook the serious negative effects of mental abuse, but it is actually on the same level of harmfulness as physical abuse.
People can suffer a lot due to being yelled at, insulted, and disrespected. Scientists explain that cyberbullying and real-life verbal abuse are seriously dangerous, as they affect both hemispheres of the human brain, and lead to numerous health issues.
According to Sherri Gordon, a published author, and a bullying prevention expert:
“Because verbal abuse isn’t as clear-cut as other forms of abuse and bullying, like physical bullying and sexual bullying, it can be hard to identify. But that doesn’t make it any less real.
Typically, verbal abuse involves some sort of verbal interaction that causes a person emotional harm. For instance, when someone is being downright critical, acting out in anger, and using words to try to control another person, this is verbal abuse.
This, in turn, leaves a victim questioning who they are. In fact, it is not uncommon for a victim of verbal abuse to feel inadequate, stupid, and worthless. After all, they are being defined by a verbally abusive person.
If verbal abuse occurs in a dating relationship, it can be particularly confusing because the partner is likely not abusive all the time. As a result, when the abuser is loving and gentle the victim can forget all the about the negative behavior.
Ultimately, the victim ends up ignoring the pattern of verbal abuse or makes excuses for the behavior saying things like he is just stressed out or he is going through a tough time right now.”
Verbal abuse can lead to the following:
• Suicidal thoughts
• Chronic pain
• Eating disorders
• Digestive issue
• Lack of enthusiasm and low self-esteem
Verbal abuse can be manifested through various kinds of behaviors, and the following can be clear signs of it:
1. Mood Killer
Abusers need to be in control of the situation, so they make you feel bad and spoil your good mood whenever possible since they feed when you are sad.
Name-calling is a way to manipulate others and harm the victim.
3. Abusers Are Always Right
Abusers never apologize or enter a discussion about their behavior, as they believe they are never wrong.
Abusers blame other people for everything, in order to make them feel guilty and never good enough.
If done without consent and permission of the other, joking can cause harm to the person affected.
6. Attack Interests
Abusers usually attack the hobbies, and interests of other people, making them feel worthless, and even end up lying.
Abusers usually disrespect others and do not appreciate anything other people do, making them feel useless and empty.
8. Behind Closed Doors
Abusers usually torment their victims behind closed doors, when no one can see them. Verbal abuse can happen at school, work, and at home, leading to severe trauma.
Abused people often live isolated and avoid socializing, in order to protect themselves. They feel anxious when with other people since they lack self-confidence. In case you notice this, do your best to help this person.