There are so many different types of child abuse. No matter what kind, they all hurt the child – they all alter the future for that child in some way. The outlook that the child has from that point on is changed. Any event in our lives changes the way we see the world, not just abuse, but abuse changes it in a very different way.
I was affected by various forms of abuse growing up. The most significant form that has affected me as it was the result of many others was the sexual abuse I was subjected to from a teacher I had in 7th grade. My whole thought process on things changed from that point forward. Even today, I have not been able to wrap my mind on certain concepts and beliefs. I feel like things he told me are still true – despite the fact that logically I know they are not, my mind is still trapped around the idea that they are.
Abuse warps our minds and causes us to put up protective barriers. We shield ourselves from truths to save ourselves from feeling pain. I did this. I dissociated a lot. I pretended it wasn’t real. I did this growing up. I did this with my teacher. Then, I just decided to believe that what he told me was the truth. I decided that I believed it, it was true, that if it was true then there would be no pain. It was a survival method to keep me from suffering the immense pain that I had been suffering.
I don’t have to believe those things anymore though. I am still learning that. The abuse has left memories on me and I will never forget it. I am learning to cope with it all now though.
Abuse can, and many times will, affect a child’s current and future mental health. Depression is high in children that are experiencing abuse. PTSD occurs frequently for those that have had some type of abuse. Additionally, later on in life – the risk of mental illness has been found to be increased for those that have had past experiences with abuse.
As I said, there are multiple types of child abuse –
ChildHelp.org lists different forms such as :
Any non-accidental injury to a child. This includes hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping, and paddling.
Any sexual act between an adult and child. This includes fondling, penetration, intercourse, exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, child prostitution, group sex, oral sex, or forced observation of sexual acts.
Failure to provide for a child’s physical needs. This includes lack of supervision, inappropriate housing or shelter, inadequate provision of food and water, inappropriate clothing for season or weather, abandonment, denial of medical care and inadequate hygiene.
Any attitude or behavior which interferes with a child’s mental health or social development. This includes yelling, screaming, name-calling, shaming, negative comparisons to others, telling them they are “bad, no good, worthless” or “a mistake.” It also includes the failure to provide the affection and support necessary for the development of a child’s emotional, social, physical and intellectual well-being. This includes ignoring, lack of appropriate physical affection (hugs), not saying “I love you,” withdrawal of attention, lack of praise and lack of positive reinforcement.
If you know of anyone that is being abuse – reach out for help. Do not let it continue. Report it immediately! You can call the Child Protective Services Line (CPS, DCFS, DFCS – Different names in different states) – just call and report it! You can remain anonymous, but sometimes it is very helpful to give your name. Even if you suspect someone is being abuse (with a reasonable suspicion), it is better to report it than possibly ignore it and let something bad happen.