A victim of mental child abuse may exhibit many signs that he is suffering mental and emotional harm. Among the most common signs are behaving in an overly compliant manner or displaying an excessive need for affection. Overly aggressive behavior may also point toward possible mental abuse in children and may include both mental and verbal aggression. Additionally, a child who is suffering mental abuse may attempt to harm himself, develop habits to pacify himself, or wet or soil his clothing or bed linens. Suicide attempts are often a sign of mental child abuse as well.
One of the most common signs of mental child abuse is overly complaint behavior. For example, a child may seem desperate to please others and win approval, especially that of adults. In some cases, a child may be unable to say what he wants or likes because he views his abuser's wants and needs as more important than his own. He may seem fearful that he won’t please others or his abuser, appear timid about stating his opinion, or have difficulty refusing to do things he doesn't want to do.
Another possible sign of emotional abuse is the excessive need for affection. If a mentally abusive parent is remote and withholds affection from the child, he may seem starved for attention. For example, the child may attempt to get affection from other adults or even latch on to other children who are older than him for this purpose.
Sometimes the signs of mental child abuse include aggressive behavior. A child who is being abused mentally may sometimes deal with the stress of the abuse by hitting, otherwise harming, or verbally abusing others. A mentally abused child may be quick to become angry and have a hard time dealing with the anger without an emotional blowup. Additionally, a mentally abused child may experience anger that seems dramatically out of proportion with the situation that caused him to become angry.
The signs of mental child abuse also can be physical in nature. For example, a mentally abused child may frequently rock back and forth or exhibit signs of trying to pacify himself. Sometime a victim may bang his head against a wall or another hard surface; others may self-inflict wounds. Additionally, some mentally abused children have frequent episodes of wetting or soiling their beds or their clothing. Unfortunately, some may even attempt to commit suicide.