The signs of parental abuse: The effects and the steps you can take to resolve it

Published: 26th August 2019

The signs of parental abuse: The effects and the steps you can take to resolve it

When we think of abuse in the family we most likely think of domestic abuse or child abuse, but why does parental abuse often get overlooked?

Parental abuse can take many forms whether that is manipulation, the threat of violence, controlling behaviour, actual physical violence, emotional or verbal abuse and also financial abuse. Parental abuse is definedas any harmful act executed by a child in order to gain power and control over a parent in the household.

What signs of parental abuse should you look out for?

Some signs that indicate parental violence include:

  • Taboo or offensive language directed towards a parent
  • The threat of physical violence towards both parents and other family members
  • Stealing from parents
  • Damaging property
  • Emotional blackmail
  • Belittling parents in public and in front of other family members

It is important to note that if a child exhibits some of the traits listed above, it does not mean that they are engaging in parental abuse.

Although the signs are seen in some cases of parental abuse, certain activities such as rebellion, drug use and taboo language may be a result of changing hormones in a teenager and their ability to access sensitive information online and imitate it.

Why do children abuse their parents?

It often seems the easiest option to blame a parent for bad-mannered, misbehaved children - however there are many cases that show children who are brought up in a safe and loving family environment that later engage in abuse directed towards their parents.

Although there is evidence that shows children imitating the violence they see in the home, many children commit parental abuse as a result of mental illness, increased access and desensitisation to violent media such as video games and films and the peer pressure to ‘fit in’ by taking illegal drugs.

What are the effects of parental abuse?

The effects of parental abuse can be both physical and psychological.

Parents not only sustain injuries as a result of physical harm, they also have to deal with the psychological and mental effects of abuse such as depression and feelings of inadequacy that linger long after the abuse ends.

Abuse in the home can also lead to the damage of property and the breakdown of the family.

What should you do if you’re being abused by your own child?

It can often be difficult to speak out against your own child, especially when you have dedicated your life to their health and wellbeing.

It is important to remember that your child’s actions are not a reflection of your parenting skills or of your character - many factors can be an influence.

Services are available for families that are suffering, whether that is help lines, mediation or family counselling, it is vital that you utilise such services in order to break the cycle of abuse.

Anyone can be a victim of parental abuse and although you might think you’re alone, there are people all across the world going through the same thing.

Having the courage to speak out and get help could save your life, the life of your child and potentially the life of others in similar situations.

If you require assistance with any aspect of family law then the team at K J Smith Solicitors can help. For more information or to arrange afree 45 minute consultation, please contact us today on Please contact our team today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 0118 418 1000 (Reading Head Office), 0118 418 1200 (Reading Central), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke), 01483 370100 (Guildford), 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield), 01235 375500 (Abingdon), 01344 513000 (Ascot) or email info@kjsmith.co.uk.

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