Often times when we talk about abuse, we picture physical violence.

The visible effects of abusive relationships: bruises, broken bones, are easier to spot because they are physical and as such are quick to cause alarm. Recently, awareness of emotional abuse has risen and highlighted the ways in which the minimization and humiliation of a partner can be so damaging.

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Still, we continue to overlook neglect and how it too can be abusive.

Recently, users on Reddit started a discussion about neglect and how it is abuse.

We rounded up the comments below just for you.

“It’s honestly one of the worst forms of abuse in terms of support and understanding from society. Ik exactly how you’re feeling and I’ve battled that for the last 2 years immensely. The hardest thing about it for me was realizing that my whole life was essentially a lie due to the emotional neglect and abuse. It’s also incredibly hard to leave behind and grow from. I wish there was more education on the impact that emotional abuse can do to children and I definitely agree with you on the fact that not nearly enough people take it seriously as there needs to be.” –mongosmoothie

“Emotional neglect is so normalized that most people just aren’t consciously aware that it affected them or that they are doing it to other people.” –RaeVision

“If you’re lucky enough to have escaped that environment and have found a safe village, it most definitely is considered abuse. It does feel as though the majority of the world are just gaslighting away though. It can be hard to face some home truths when too many people are collectively guilty. It’s important to remember that the DSM billing manual and other resources are not the be all and end all of medical knowledge. They are works in progress and are constantly being updated. Abuse is abuse whether there have been enough papers written on that specific variety or not.” –LurkForYourLives

“But rather there isn’t automatic intent to harm. It can be due to severe mental illness where a parent is not in control of their faculties; inter generational trauma, poverty, abuse. This was my instinct as well as to why it’s not immediately grouped with abuse, and I have to say it’s horse sh-t because abuse itself is not exclusively synonymous with intent to harm, or “evil” people. For example, anyone, myself included, living with narcissistic parents develop “fleas” and we go on to repeat many of the abuses that they did, until we develop an awareness of what’s happening to us and we stop it. That’s why intent doesn’t really matter to me, because no one is talking about intent or shame or a person’s character, but simply their actions. I think if we removed shame from these convos, more parents would actually be able to face their abusive treatments because they wouldn’t feel like it immediately equated them to being an evil person.” –anonymousquestioner4


“In CPTSD literature it’s definitely trauma and considered abuse.”-3 months ago

“In psychology and legally where I’ve looked into it, neglect and abuse are the two categories of mistreatment. Neglect is every bit as serious as abuse. It’s just a different kind of mistreatment. I think they are fundamentally different. Winnicott said something like: “There are two kinds of things that can wrong in childhood: things happened that shouldn’t [abuse] ans things don’t happen that should [neglect].” Having experienced both personally, they are different – one is about negative action and none is about absence – and they have different effects on the victims. I think maybe what you’re feeling is that society seems much more concerned about abuse and doesn’t see neglect as that bad. People are really ignorant about it. It’s hard to talk about things that didn’t happen. Abuse often looks more dramatic to the outsider.” –hotheadnchickn

“It is considered abuse, but it’s difficult to classify and it is incredibly widespread.
Just think about how many people (and fictional characters) have at least one very distant parent. If I look at my friends and classmates from school and how their relationships/interactions with their parents were about half of them fit into some form of neglect (and I grew up in a proper middle class environment).
I think it’s difficult to get people to understand that emotional neglect is a thing and that it’s bad because everyone knows someone who experienced it and most of those people turned out “fine” (or at least functional).” –Trekkie200

“The most powerful realization I had is that abuse is abuse whether the person doing it thinks it is or means to or realizes it. It’s abuse. The intentions don’t have to be sinister. The impact on the abused is what defines abuse, not the abuser’s feelings about it.” –Boxertdog

“My ex was verbally and emotionally abusive. I was sort of friends with him after we broke up. I couldn’t bring myself to call it abuse around him because it ran so counter to his self image. I felt like I’d just be hurting his feelings… I don’t talk to him anymore. There is no point. But I wish I could make me then understand that his feelings on it didn’t matter.”-jhennaside