From the Editor’s Mailbox | Signs of Emotional Abuse, Links, and Parental Alienation

photo credit: Bjorn Giesenbauer
photo credit: Bjorn Giesenbauer

I tackled my mailbox this morning and saw several repeated questions, so I thought I’d share the answers in a post. Here are the most recent questions from various folks.

How do I know if I’m being used? Am I being abused?

I get a lot of mail from folks sharing their personal stories and asking me if they are being abused. In almost all cases, I do see signs of emotional abuse, but I always recommend that people go to counseling, whether through their church, free counseling at their local college, help lines, pro bono counseling from charities, etc., and share all the details there with someone who can guide them to an answer and, most importantly, resources to awaken from the abuse and get on the path to a healthier emotional state.

If you cannot afford counseling or if  you do not wish to start counseling until you do some research, I’d suggest reading about emotional child abuse and seeing whether you see the signs of it in your own upbringing or signs of the affects in you as an adult.

Some people think that it’s best NOT to read about it because “you can incorrectly self-diagnose” and they equate that situation to reading about diseases and thinking you have them.

I don’t agree with that mindset at all.

In my experience, adult survivors of emotional child abuse find it extremely difficult to awaken in their realization of what has happened (and continues into their adulthood). Most adult survivors of emotional child abuse would rather not wake up to the horrible reality of the abuse… So, there’s little danger of someone reading about emotional child abuse and recklessly thinking, “Oh, this is me.”

If anything, an adult survivor of emotional child abuse will research a great deal to find out the truth of what has happened.

If you are wondering whether you were an emotionally abused child (and an adult child of emotionally abusive parents), I suggest reading this page and checking out these resources.

Also, please know that I always think about and pray for those folks who do send their stories to me… I keep you in my heart.

Parental alienation

That was not so much of a question, but I’ve received emails from readers discussing the “phenomenon of parental alienation” and wanting me to share information about it.


The most I will do is to define it and explain why this site will not address it.

Parental alienation is “a social dynamic when a child expresses unjustified hatred or unreasonably strong dislike of one parent, making access by the rejected parent difficult or impossible. These feelings may be influenced by negative comments by the other parent or grandparents, generally occurring due to divorce or separation. Characteristics, such as lack of empathy and warmth, between the rejected parent and child are other indicators. The term does not apply in cases of actual child abuse, when the child rejects the abusing parent to protect themselves.”

The main two reasons I won’t be addressing it on this site are…

  1. “The term does not apply in cases of actual child abuse, when the child rejects the abusing parent to protect themselves.” The Invisible Scar is about actual child abuse…
  2. The term itself is vague and not widely accepted.

Can I link to your website? Can I link to an article?

You sure can. I mentioned in my copyright section that I don’t want entire articles lifted from The Invisible Scar without express written consent, but a link to an article here or the website is just fine. Can’t spread awareness without sharing links, am I right? If you’ve a question about it, please drop me a line at theinvisiblescar[at]

Where are you?

The Invisible Scar has not been updated since April (well, until I publish this post), but I’m back. As I’ve mentioned before, The Invisible Scar is run by just one person, and I was pulled in several directions for the past few months. The dust has settled, though, so I will be getting back to a regular publishing schedule. Thanks for asking!

* * *

Thanks for all your emails, both with questions, comments, and stories.

We’ll be back to posting regularly beginning this month.

Onward and upward,
the editor of The Invisible Scar

13 thoughts on “From the Editor’s Mailbox | Signs of Emotional Abuse, Links, and Parental Alienation

  1. I applaud you in not referring to parental alienation as abuse. Yesterday I was on a different website and I became aware that parental alienation is being used as a ploy by the courts to return children to a parent who has sexually molested them. As absurd and outrageous that this may be, it is being done. You may want to check out the website Protective Parents Coalition.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your support for this post (and for your overall enthusiasm for the site!)…

      Yes, I’ve been seeing the term used with more frequency lately, and I find that concerning. The wording of the definition is judgmental and emotional (“unjustified hatred” and “unreasonably dislike”) and leans in favor of the parental figures.

      I’m alarmed by the attitude that automatically sides with the parental figures. I feel that anger is directed at the adult child. Unfortunately, anger towards the adult survivor of emotional child abuse is not a new thing…

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.


    2. Thank you for addressing this. I beg of mothers to never use the term parental alienation. That is the abusers term. A term used to deflect from abuse and label the protective parent as an alternator to gain custody. Let’s not give that term anymore power.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so grateful you have brought awareness around the dangers of using the term “parental alienation” which was started and is used by the fathers rights movement to gain custody of children from their protective mothers. They even have websites devoted to telling fathers how to do it. Unfortunately it is working and children are being taken from good mothers and sent to live with abusers. How do I know? It happened to me and my daughter. My case was labeled parental alienation after proof of an assault on my daughter in which the court chose to ignore. The abusers use the courts and this term to further control and abuse their victims. What better way to punish and control a mother then by taking her child from her. I put my daughter on the school bus one day and she never came home. She was legally kidnapped right from school and I was unable to see or speak to her for 5 months. This was after the GAL would not allow visits with her father for over a year because of the assault. They go from that to sending her to live full time with him- It is insanity what goes on in the family courts.


    1. Anne-Marie,

      The term smacks of smugness and self-inflicted martyrdom and a complete lack of awareness for what the parent has done. I loathe it.

      And I am so very sorry for what you endured. That sounds beyond awful. I don’t know what to say except that I am so very sorry. (((((hug))))


    2. Thank you and thanks again fir writing about this subject that is gety dear to my heart. Everytime I see a new blog ir FB page pop up by survivors using the term parental alienation I want to scream “NO you’re giving the abusers more power!” I cannot fight against it though I can only tell my story and hope that others can learn from it.


  3. What can one do when tell people about your abuse by 2 toxic parents & instead of being understanding they tell me that I need to take responsibility for my life when the have NO idea of the hell I was put through for 57 years ? My verbally abusive Mother died last year. She abused me continually from the age of 5 to 62 & continually found fault even when I had done nothing wrong or had no contact with her for years. My physically and verbally abusive Father died 43 years ago& it took me years to get over the panic attacks & night terror that this man created in me. I do NOT understand why people choose to attack me when this behavior continued on well into adulthood and I, not they had to deal with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. George,

      Blaming the victim is, sadly, not a new thing. It happens all the time.

      I think that people (wrongfully) believe that the victim brought the pain upon himself/herself because by believing that, they can avoid the abuse. In other words, they think, “Oh, John Frugelmeisterboo did this and that, so he deserved being treated like crap. BUT if I don’t act like John Frugelmeiterboo, then no one will do that to me.”

      It’s ridiculous, really.

      I am so very sorry that you’ve had to endure such abuse…. and I encourage you to find a good soundingboard and help for healing through professional therapy. You deserve a more emotionally healthy life!

      Peace to you.


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