What is physical abuse when it doesn’t include physical contact?

Physical abuse by a narcissistic parent when there is no physical contact such a hitting or pushing can include:

  • Not comforting a child and making them feel safe when they are clearly showing physical and emotional signs of distress.
  • Ignoring or punishing pleas for solace when they have fallen and hurt themselves.
  • Denying the child’s expressions of feelings
  • Not listening to them when they express fear of some external influence (person, animal or situation) that poses a threat to them.
  • Keeping them up too late when they are clearly exhausted because the parents are enjoying themselves.
  • Not taking care of their medical needs when they are sick.
  • Not trying to understand why a child does not want to do something such as going to school or playing sports.
  • Not protecting their child when they are being bullied by a sibling or another child.
  • Not making sure that the child is wearing climate appropriate clothes or clothes that they feel comfortable in
  • In general, not making the child feel safe.

The effect of this sort of abuse is that the child becomes very reactive because the clear message from their parent(s) is that “what you want doesn’t matter and I can and will abandon you at any time if you make any demands on me”.  The result is that the child constantly feels insecure, unsafe and unloved.  This child has been brought up in a constant state of “danger management”, so feeling safe and secure is something that is completely foreign to them, this sort of neglectful abuse will have consequence right into adulthood.

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