Emotional abuse in your relationship? It may have an effect on time-sharing with your child.... : BLOG
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Emotional abuse in your relationship? It may have an effect on time-sharing with your child....

by St. Petersburg/Florida Family Law Attorney on 03/21/16

As a divorce attorney in St. Petersburg, my practice focuses primarily in Family Law.  As a result of this, it is often brought to my attention that there are matters that one parent may feel needs to brought to a judge's attention.  One issue that comes up fairly often in a contested paternity or divorce matter with children is emotion abuse. 


In comparison to other forms of abuse, the effects of emotional abuse are receiving attention only recently.  This is due to lack of consistent definitions, difficulty in detection, assessment, and substantiation.  

The characteristics of emotional abuse include, but are not limited to, rejection, degradation, terrorization, isolation, exploitation, and deprivation of emotional responsiveness.  Emotional abuse may occur on its own or accompany other forms of abuse.  it is usually repetitive, and without treatment, gets worse.

The adult may exhibit depression, withdrawal, low self-esteem, anxiety and fear, crying, self-blame, social isolation, avoidance of eye contact, discomfort or nervousness around relatives or friends, delay or refusal of medical treatment.  Other forms of abuse may be present or suspected.  There are certain vulnerability factors:  family history, lack of social and familial support, instability in other areas of life.  The adult may suffer problems with attention and concentration, many physical complaints without adequate medical explanation, fearful of persons or situations where no danger exists.  

Child emotional abuse is usually at the hand of the parent.  Abuse tends to continue over a period of time and the child has to cope with being in a dependent relationship with an abusive parent.  The developmental stages of the child will alter: how they understand the trauma and how they respond behaviorally and emotionally.  

Young children may be angry, uncooperative, and attached to their primary care-giver, even if that care-giver is the abuser.  The children who experience rejection are more likely to exhibit aggressive or hostile behavior, be overly dependent, or have negative opinions of themselves and the world around them.  Children who see or hear a parent being abused are themselves victims of abuse.  Note, that if a parent is reluctant to release the child to the other parent, or seems to constantly supervise when the other parent is around and only has vague complaints about the quality of the other parent's care. This is a huge red flag.  Parties in the emotional process of dissolution of marriage are already in the throes of emotional trauma.  He or she may know his or her behavior is questionable, but cannot control the behavior.  Some are reluctant to overcome abusive behavior.  Recognizing one's own behavior is important and individual counseling and anger management training may be necessary.  

If you believe you and/or your child have been exposed to emotional abuse, then it is almost mandatory that a professional evaluation take place. Furthermore, it is imperative that if you believe an issue like this has arisen, you hire a Family Law attorney well versed in child custody/time-sharing.  We offer free over the phone consultations and low cost in office consultations as well.  


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