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What’s Worse Emotional Or Physical Abuse?

What’s Worse Emotional Or Physical Abuse?

It is impossible to claim that any type of abuse is worse than another. Abuse is defined as “any action that intentionally harms or injures another person.” All kinds of abuse are damaging, and they all have a severe impact on the victim’s physiological health. Although emotional abuse may not lead to physical injury, studies have found that emotional abuse can be as mentally and psychologically damaging as physical abuse when it comes to mental and behavioral health. More so, research indicates that the resulting mental health problems are similar regardless of whether the maltreatment is physical, psychological, sexual, emotional, or some combination.

What Is Emotional Abuse?

The University of Texas at Dallas defines emotional abuse as “any abusive behavior that isn’t physical, which may include verbal aggression, intimidation, manipulation, and humiliation, which most often unfolds as a pattern of behavior over time that aims to diminish another person’s sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth.” Emotional abuse arises from one person’s desire for control over another. Emotionally abusive behaviors could include the following examples, provided by VeryWell Mind:

  • Stalking
  • Threatening
  • Attempting to control access to one’s family or friends 
  • Trying to control clothing choices 
  • Yelling
  • Name-calling 
  • Insults 
  • Intentionally publicly embarrassing someone 

The reality of a victim of emotional abuse may become distorted as they internalize the abuse as their own failings. Psychology Today explains that people who suffer emotional abuse may experience short-term difficulties (e.g., confusion, fear, difficulty concentrating, and low confidence, as well as nightmares, aches, racing heart, etc.) as well as long-term repercussions, such as anxiety, insomnia, and social withdrawal.

What Is Physical Abuse?

Physical abuse is defined as any deliberate and unwanted physical contact. Physically abusive behaviors may not necessarily leave a visible mark on a teen’s body or even cause physical pain, but purposeful unwanted contact is considered abuse. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry provides examples of physically abusive treatment, including but not limited to: 

  • Hair pulling
  • Scratching
  • Punching 
  • Kicking
  • Biting 
  • Pushing 
  • Burning 
  • Hitting
  • Using a weapon
  • Pulling or grabbing clothes 

The effects of enduring physical abuse can not only be physically damaging, but emotionally crippling. It is important to note that physical abuse rarely happens without the accompaniment of emotional abuse. 

For Information and Support

Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.

Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, in the long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.


We are available to answer any questions you may have regarding mental health treatment and our residential program, anytime. Contact us today using the form to the right.

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