Psychological abuse is the infliction of mental anguish, involving actions that cause fear of violence, isolation or deprivation, and feelings of shame, indignity or powerlessness (ANPEA).
- Verbal intimidation - being forced into making decisions against your will.
- Humiliation and harassment - being called names or experiencing behaviours that are degrading, in a public or private place, being treated like a child.
- Threats of physical Harm - e.g. "If you don't hurry up I'll give you something to be quick about".
- Threats of institutionalisation - "Do what I say or I'll put you in a home".
- Withholding of affection - refusing access to grandchildren.
- Removal of decision-making powers.
Signs of Psychological Abuse
Psychological abuse may be verbal or non-verbal and is usually characterised by a pattern of behaviour repeated over time and intended to maintain a hold of fear over the victim.
Signs of psychological abuse include:
- Loss of interest in self or environment
- Ambivalence towards family member or carer
- Lack of eye contact with practitioner, carer or other person
- Huddled or nervous around carer or other person
- Reluctance to talk openly
- Insomnia/sleep deprivation
- Paranoid behaviour or confusion not associated with illness