What keeps a parent who is capable of damaging a child mentally and emotionally from damaging them physically or sexually as well?
Parents who are mentally abusive lack the ability to control themselves. Which means they’re unable to contain their emotions, which then spills into doing what’s right for their child, which is sheltering them from harm– any harm. A parent who is OK knowing that their child is suffering (especially over lies that the parent creates) is a toxic father or mother, and toxic fathers and mothers are bad people who have few limits on what they’re capable of doing.
What I’ve noticed in my own experiences and in the experiences of blog commenters is that parents who can harm kids on one level frequently harm them on others, too.
These “manure-spreading” parents are capable of damaging kids across the spectrum of child abuse: physically, mentally, sexually, medically, and educationally. To be fair, few toxic parents damage via all of the five categories.
A parent who is physically or sexually abusive is also mentally abusive. Comments are made such as:
“Look what you made me do, don’t tell anyone about this or else…”
“This is your fault because…”
Name calling also goes hand in hand with these forms of abuse.
Here’s the thing: You can’t have a physically or sexually abusive parent who isn’t also mentally abusive. Any attack on a child’s body also is an attack on their mind.
To restate something important, not all parents who are mentally abusive are physically or sexually abusive. However, they have the potential to be, and too frequently are.
Bottom line? Once someone’s an abusive parent in one of the categories, they very often abuse on one or more of the others.
[If you are curious about the use of the terms “medical abuse” (also known as Munchausen by Proxy) and “educational abuse,” click the respective links…]