Memory’s surge burns deep. One Thousand Gifts
Children sexually abused internalize maltreatment, a legacy which may contribute to later promiscuity. The reaction to emotional debasement can be as devastating, if not more so, than physical abuse. Just as adult bullied targets develop a “tattoo in the brain,” from “amygdala hijacking” repeated emotional abuse over a period of years can alter children’s worldview.
Dr. Kevin Leman – author of “Unlocking the Secrets of your Childhood Memories” – explains the difficulties verbally abused children experience; he states that all children should be treated with courtesy, “as if the child were a friend of the family.” Serial verbal abusers behave as psychic cannibals, draining the life blood of self-respect, determination, and self-confidence from defenseless innocents.
Vardigan describes the following types of verbal abuse toward children:
- Threatening bodily harm: Violent threats instill fear and distrust. In a similar vein, abusers may threaten to move or leave the family whenever their spouse or children don’t conform.
- Indirect criticism: e.g., “I never wanted a baby.” Disparaging comments made within earshot pack an even bigger punch because they’re shared.
- Scapegoating or blaming: e.g., In The Road Less Traveled, Peck paints character disordered parents as irresponsible adults, those who fail to take responsibility for their own lives; e.g., “The only reason I stay married to your father [mother] is because of you kids.” Shamed children believe their lot in life should consist of misery. He explains that destructive scapegoating practiced by individuals he terms “evil” can be both subtle and pervasive.
- Berating your spouse: e.g., “You’re an anchor around my neck.” Research suggests witnessing parental degradation can create anxiety and emotional trauma.
Peck argues the impact of childhood mental/verbal and emotional abuse can be long lasting, with adult survivors experiencing a diaspora of the mind:
“If we as objectively detached, mature adults, have great difficulty coming to terms with evil, think what it must be like for the child living in its midst. The child can emotionally survive only by massive fortification of its psyche. While such fortifications or psychological defenses are essential to its survival through childhood, they inevitably distort or compromise its life as an adult.” Peck, People of the Lie
Deflated self-esteem follows children for a lifetime, searing mouths shut – whereas peers not so treated practice self-defense. For adults suffering the aftermath of verbal torment, abusers assume the role of parent (whose resulting tirade immobilized them). They reenact the only response they were allowed as children [Silence]. Amy Cuddy describes powerless positions as protective. Not surprisingly, the verbally abused crouch in caves of tiny self-concept. Exploitation does not end at age eighteen, but multiplies when victims make negative self-image and mind chatter their primary focus.