Unseen Wounds: Understanding the Emotional and Behavioral Correlates of Psychological Abuse in Adolescents

Article Title: Unseen Wounds: Understanding the Emotional and Behavioral Correlates of Psychological Abuse in Adolescents

Author(s): Syeda Fariha, Iram Rizvi and Najma Najam

Institute(s): Institute of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

Journal: Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research, 2017, Vol. 32, No. 2, 525-543

Correspondence Address: Syeda Fariha Iram Rizvi, Institute of Applied Psychology, Govt. M. A. O. College, Lahore, Pakistan. E-mail: fariha.iram@gmail.com


Psychological abuse is an under-recognized but common form of child abuse. Most previous studies concerning emotional and behavioral problems in abused adolescents are about reported cases. Little is known about the relationship between psychological abuse by parents in childhoods and behavioral, emotional problems in adolescence that had never been reported or even recognized. Therefore, aim of this research was to analyze the relationship of psychological abuse with emotional and behavioral problems of adolescents. Sample consisted of 300 adolescents with age range 13 to 17 years from both private and public schools. Psychological Maltreatment Experience Scale (Petretic-Jackson, Betz, & Pitman, 1995) and Youth Self- Report Form (Achenbach & Rescorla, 2001) were used to assess study variables. It was hypothesized that psychologically abusive parenting will have significant positive relation with behavioral problems in adolescents. Findings indicated a significant positive correlation between adolescents’ perception of psychological abuse (verbal abuse, withholding, terrorizing acts, neglectful, and exploitative acts) by both parents and their emotional behavioral problems. Regression analyses revealed that psychological abuse by both parents was found as significant predictors of internalizing, externalizing, and total problem behaviors. Present research may be a contribution in creating awareness among parents about the problem and may increase and complement the existing knowledge of professionals about damaging effect of parental abuse.

Keywords. Psychological abuse, behavioral and emotional problems, internalizing and externalizing problems, adolescents

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