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What is emotional abuse?
What is emotional abuse?
Written by Hannah May
Updated over a week ago

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is when someone causes anguish, pain or distress to another person by what they say or do. It includes things such as:

  • Insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation, harassment, treating an elderly person like an infant, keeping someone away from family and friends, giving someone the silent treatment.

What are some signs of emotional abuse?

  • Seem to be afraid of certain caregivers or family members, are yelled at by family members or caregivers, are made fun of by family members, are suddenly very agitated, are suddenly confused or more confused than usual, talk about being worthless, have trouble sleeping, never seem to get enough sleep, have a sudden change in appetite, have a big change in weight, seems very quiet, cry all the time, talk about being helpless, seem scared to talk about their lives, are angry all the time.

What can you do about emotional abuse?

  • Watch your patients for signs of emotional abuse. Don’t be afraid to discuss a situation that you think might be emotional abuse with your supervisor—even if it involves a coworker.

  • Avoid making jokes about your patients. It may seem like a harmless way to lighten the stress from your day, but what if the patient or a family member hears you? It might be taken as emotional abuse.

  • Report abuse, disrespectful behavior toward your patients, even if it comes from a family member.

  • Treat all of your patients with kindness and respect. Think of how you would want to be treated.

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