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Is Emotional Abuse As Harmful as Physical and/or Sexual Abuse?

Abstract

This article discusses risk factors for adults who have suffered early childhood trauma, specifically focusing on emotional abuse, and discusses the negative long-term consequences from childhood trauma such as depression, anxiety, stress, and neuroticism personality. This research study predicts that those who report emotional abuse will have higher sores for depression, anxiety, stress, and neuroticism personality compared to those who reported only physical, only sexual, or combined physical and sexual abuse. Using the NEO Five-Factor Inventory, Depression Anxiety and Stress Scale, and Childhood Trauma Questionnaire, 748 college students participated in an on-line survey at a Southeastern university. As predicted, this study found those who reported emotional abuse had higher scores for depression, anxiety, stress, and neuroticism personality compared to those who reported only physical, only sexual, or combined physical and sexual abuse. Studies show emotional abuse may be the most damaging form of maltreatment causing adverse developmental consequences equivalent to, or more severe than, those of other forms of abuse (Hart et al. 1996). Therefore, this article discusses the need for public awareness campaigns to raise public and community awareness and evidenced based treatments that help with the psychological consequences resulting from emotional abuse.

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Correspondence to Heather L. Dye.

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All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation [institutional and national] and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.

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Dye, H.L. Is Emotional Abuse As Harmful as Physical and/or Sexual Abuse?. Journ Child Adol Trauma 13, 399–407 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-019-00292-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-019-00292-y

Keywords

  • Early childhood trauma
  • Emotional abuse
  • Consequences of trauma
  • Treatment for trauma