Mental Abuse and its Affect on Kids

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I went home to visit my family, just as millions of others were doing across the country. And I was also not alone in dreading the visit. There are many reasons for not getting along with family members, and mine is the mental abuse I was put through when I lived at home.

On this visit, I was devastated by the change in my brother since the last time I had seen him, just a few months ago. Being male and ten years old, my brother is full of energy and mischief. However, he never has the opportunity to act on this. While watching a movie in the living room, my mother constantly looked over at my brother to determine what he was doing. She shouted at him for not sitting straight enough, for resting his arm on the dog, for leaning his face against the dog, and for laughing.

The worst part is that my brother has reverted to sucking his thumb unconciously. This gains him nothing but shouts from my mother, and he has taken to sitting on his hands to prevent himself from doing it. Of course, this also gets him in trouble, but at least he is trying.

It pains me to see my brother behaving this way. When I was living in the house, the situation was nearly unbearable, with constant chores and reprimands. I was told on more than one occassion that chores came before homework, and when my grades fell, I was grounded. This was no great punishment, as any activity outside the home had to be requested two weeks in advance, and the answer (almost always no) was not given until the absolute last minute.

Having escaped the pain and anguish of wanting love and being given nothing but anger and disappointment, I thought I had escaped my mother’s ability to cause pain for me. However, my younger brother, who should be playing outside, shouting, and enjoying his childhood, has been turned into a virtual zombie by the person who is supposed to love him most.

Mental abuse is the worst kind of abuse, the hardest to spot, and certainly the most difficult to recover from.