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Could This Be Considered Child Abuse?

Published: May 14, 2012
Dear TeenHealthFX,
Hi, well... I'm depressed and I've been talking to this therapist for a little while. I wanted to talk about my parents to her, but I'm kind of afriad. My parents make me feel bad a lot and they call me mean names sometimes. And it seems like to them everything I do is wrong. One night my mom wouldn't stop calling me an "ungrateful b*tch" and my dad said I make everyone miserable. I was wondering, would this be considered child abuse? I don't really think it is, but I'm afriad my therapist might see it that way. My paret never really hit me...well, maybe like slap me when I get in trouble, but that rarely happens, and it doesn't leave a mark or anything. Sometimes at night i hear them arguing about how I'm not working hard enough in school or how I complain too much and blame all my problems on them. They make me feel bad by even going to the therapist in the first place because they say I'm costing them too much money and the get mad at me when I cry and my mom says I need to "stop being depressed" as if I chose to be this way. I just never had a good relationship with them. And I REALLY need to know if this would be considered shild abuse or not. Please answer my question, it would be big help!
Signed: Could This Be Considered Child Abuse?

Dear Could This Be Considered Child Abuse?,


It is possible that you are dealing with a type of verbal or emotional abuse from your parents. For example, calling you an “ungrateful bitch” is definitely a verbally abusive statement. Clearly you could use some help in dealing with this conflicts at home, however, it sounds like you are afraid of what your therapist will do if she knows about the dynamics at home. But FX wants you to remember that she is there to help you in any way she can and that it is important that she intervene on your behalf. FX would assume that she would want to either incorporate your parents into your therapy with her, or, if you would prefer, send the three of you to another therapist who will do family treatment while you continue with your current therapist for individual therapy. It is important that an adult intervene to talk to your parents about how harmful this behavior is for you and for their relationships with you. And it is important for you to know that there are adults out there who will want to treat you with respect and understanding and who will be there to support you during difficult times.


One way to approach this is that before you bring this specific issue up with your therapist, let her know that there is something you have been wanting to tell her, but that you have concerns. You can then explain to her what worries you without divulging too much information so that the two of you can deal with your fears about what might happen if you were discuss this with her. You can also talk about a plan of once you have told her, how to go from there is a way that will feel comfortable for both you and your therapist.


It is not okay how your parents are relating to you, and it is obviously and understandably having a negative impact on how you feel and on your relationships with one another. So please take steps soon to talk with your therapist about this so that she can be there for you with help, guidance and support.

Signed: TeenHealthFX