terrorizing1-150x150Terrorizing is “To cause extreme fear or violent dread to the victim” and can happen at any age.

In fact, all of the abuses can happen at any age. Our focus is on the child because experiencing abuse, personally or as a bystander,  sets a person up for vulnerability to abuse for their whole lifetime – or until they become aware of the fact and seek help.

It is also my focus as I know that most abusive parents will be horrified to learn that what they are doing to children they adore is abuse. It is a silent – and yet often there is shouting – and invisible – and yet there is often such obvious evidence to see – epidemic.

Abuse is epidemic for several reasons:

Abuse has been sneaking past us for years but now, if we care to learn about abuse and if we dare to look, we will see it all around us and education is available now with the internet.

With increasingly stressed families – away from the support of the extended family and often divorced – abusive behaviour is likely to increase… Unless we stop it.

The abuse that’s been going on in the developing world – and the developed world – for centuries is now more visible – and unacceptable – than ever because of the internet and concerned groups.

Increasingly we understand the links between abusive behaviour and the trouble in the world, even on our physical health (latest ACES research out of Harvard and LearningGNM), and see the value in stopping it.

Terrorizing is when you verbally bully or intimidate the victim – starting with home and school and moving right on through the workplace and society.

Youth and children are terrorized when they see or hear violence in their homes and are more likely to become victims or perpetrators themselves in adult life.

Causing a child or youth to be terrified by the constant use of threats and/or intimidating behaviour. This includes ‘witnessing’, which is when a child or youth observes violence, hears violence, or knows that violence is taking place in the home.

 If you are an abuser: stop now. As soon as you open your mind to what is going on and discuss it with a non-judgmental counsellor (or friend) your mind cannot help but start to ‘de-bug’ itself. Get yourself into a supportive program, through a counsellor, and re-program what has doubtless been present since your own childhood. It’s never too late.

If you are a victim, stop it now. Tell an adult you trust – like a teacher, one of the helplines or counsellor. Start to get help, which includes getting physically safe and getting into a supportive program.

Terrorizing includes:

  • with infants and children, excessive teasing
  • yelling and scaring
  • unpredictable and extreme responses to child’s behaviour
  • extreme verbal threats
  • raging, alternating with periods of artificial warmth
  • threatening abandonment
  • beating family members in front of or in ear range of child
  • threatening to destroy a favourite object
  • threatening to harm a beloved pet
  • forcing child to watch inhumane acts against animals
  • inconsistent demands on the child
  • displaying inconsistent emotions
  • changing the ‘rules of the game’
  • threatening that the child is adopted and doesn’t belong
  • ridiculing youth in public
  • threats to reveal embarrassing traits to peer
  • threatening to kick an adolescent out of the houseAbuse seems like a huge insurmountable problem but it’s easy to fix: once we find some support and talk openly about it (in a safe place) we will start to heal.

FACT: Children and youth who witness family violence experience all six types of emotional abuse.

FACT: A 1995 telephone survey identifying types of emotional abuse suggested that by the time a child was 2 years old, 90% of families had used one or more forms of psychological aggression in the previous 12 months (Straus, 20003).