Visitor Question

What constitutes mental and emotional abuse of children?

Submitted By: Anonymous (New York)

I have been ridiculed and put down daily by my mother. She calls me (mostly me but also my siblings) things such as worthless and stupid. She often puts us down and is overall detached from us. She has occasionally physically abused me and my older brother.

I’m currently 17 and am concerned for my last year living here and for my siblings who will live here for another 8 years. How much evidence is needed to determine if this is actually child abuse or not? I don’t want to file a claim and have it get dismissed as then my mother will be more abusive. What can be done? Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear Anonymous,

Psychological abuse by parental figures is to be taken very seriously. Psychological abuse, coupled with physical abuse may be enough for the State of New York to become involved.

The New York State Office of Children and Family Services, through its Bureau of Adult Services, is responsible for the oversight of Protective Services for Adults (PSA) and other adult services provided through the local departments of social services.

If you want to report the abuse to the proper authorities, contact:

New York Child Protective Services: 1-800-342-3720

You can also call the National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4ACHILD (1-800-422-4453)

If the abuse is ongoing, and you have a fear of imminent bodily injury against you or your siblings, call 911.

Evidence needed to involve Child Protective Services is dependent upon each set of circumstances. If you would like Child Protective Services to become involved, contact them immediately.

Learn more here: About Child Abuse & Restitution

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,


2 thoughts on “What constitutes mental and emotional abuse of children?

  1. Mel says:

    Kylie, Unfortunately you are completely correct. In my experience my mother treated me like the scapegoat she could blame for all of her problems. She told me she hated me constantly, when I was four she held me up to the bathroom mirror so I could see myself and told me I was ugly, she of course did all of the other usual abusive acts, hair pulling, hitting, calling me awful names in front of the only friend I had because I had misplaced my coat, she mocked me and told me that she could see why I didn’t have any friends just because I wanted to go with her to the zoo when she was taking my baby brother (i was only eleven, of course I wanted to go to the zoo), and one evening when I asked to go to a sleepover she told me I could not go and that nobody really wanted me there anyway.

    I got angry and called her a sick sociopath or something that I had learned from my search for an answer as to why she is like this, and it set her off. She violently attacked me, threw me to the floor, and was basically on top of me hitting me and crushing me (I was 15 but i was tiny at only 5’0 and 89 lbs. while she was about 300 lbs or so), then she dragged me by my hair across the floor to my room and told me to pack a few things while throwing stuff at me because this wasn’t my home anymore (a phrase I had heard more than once). This encounter left me with bloody scratches all over my face and neck.

    I made the tough decision to call the police even though I was scared that they would separate me from my little brother in a foster home. When the police arrived and listened to my mother’s lies about how I had been out of control and how I tried to beat her up I think they initially assumed that this was a case of an unruly teenage bully fighting her mom because she didn’t get her way. That’s the story she told them. But when they came in my room finally to hear my side one of them remarked that they had the impression that I had roughly the same body type as my mom, and he was surprised that I was so small because it made the story she told seem improbable.

    They saw the blood, I told them that I had been dealing with this for as long as I can recall, I told them that she abused the children she cared for in her daycare too by stuffing one of those baby socks into a one year olds mouth because she was crying during nap time, and I had to pull it out and make her leave the baby alone. I thought it was quite fortunate that I had stayed home from school that day or who knows what might have happened. Anyway, I told them all of these things and what they said was that they would take me and my brother to a group home or foster home if I wanted to do that, but that they couldn’t promise that my brother could stay with me and that group homes and foster homes can be worse than what I was going through.

    That was their response to everything I had told them and everything they saw. I’m sure they were trying to be helpful. I sensed that they sincerely cared but were at a loss as to what they could do. They didn’t charge her with assault or battery or domestic violence…and she made sure to make me suffer even more for having called the police.

    Now today the results of all of her efforts are PTSD, agoraphobia, social anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, major depression, and that’s all on top of being mildly autistic (aspergers diagnosis in childhood). This woman set out to kill me inside and she has faced no repercussions, she has been enabled to live in her fantasy world where she was a wonderful mother and none of the heinous, sick abuse she doled out in reality ever occured.

    I know this post is long so I’ll just end it here with the most important part of my experience, the lesson I learned, and a seemingly universal truth: Nobody ever gets what they deserve, be it good or bad. Karma is just quaint meaningless lie, a concept to pacify us when we realize how utterly backwards the world is, just like heaven and hell. Nobody ever gets what they deserve….

  2. Kylie says:

    I told CPS and a Court Psychologist that my mother called me names and they didn’t care. She called me horrible names and told me she hated me constantly. She hit me, pulled my hair, kicked me etc.

    CPS would take the report and then after talking to her they always believed her. She just told them she was religious and showed them her bible and said we were horrible and disrespectful liars.

    So don’t expect anything to happen because mental abuse is the hardest thing to prove and I’m sure she wont admit it, so it’s your word against hers and she’s going to blame and lie!

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