Child Abuse – Mental Illness

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 :

Physical abuse

Any non-accidental injury to a child. This includes hitting, kicking, slapping, shaking, burning, pinching, hair pulling, biting, choking, throwing, shoving, whipping, and paddling.

Sexual abuse

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.

Neglect

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.

Emotional abuse

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.

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7 thoughts on “Child Abuse – Mental Illness”

  1. This is topic near and dear to my heart – and more awareness is needed. My life would have been so much easier if I had known about and understood the connection from the beginning. Good post.

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  2. Great post. As a parent, I constantly worry what my children are exposed to. We can only protect them from so much, so hopefully we have educated them enough to make healthy choices.

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  3. One important thing to note though is that taking a child from their parents isn’t always the best way to deal with an abusive situation. There is no class or book that parents are required to read before they have children. Some parents just need some extra help with how to treat their children.
    I think sometimes some people are a little too quick to report instead of helping when the help is needed.
    I worked at Childhelp and have seen the effect of both children who should have been taken from their parents and children that shouldn’t have been taken from their parents. As with all things in life, we should be slow to judge harshly, but quick to act when someone is being hurt.

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  4. Oh I don’t think taking a child away from parents is the right response all the time … only if the child is in immediate danger should they be taken away. The answer is always reunification between children and parents if that can be done! I never want a family torn apart. But I still believe that if abuse is being done, that it should be reported so that the family can get help. Just because abuse is reported it does not mean the child will be removed – most of the time it just means that the family will receive assistance to get the help they need — at least in the areas that I have lived. Normally children are not taken out of the homes except in cases of extreme abuse where they are in physical danger (imminent danger)

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  5. Yeah. I think it really depends on where you live and the culture there. I have heard of children being removed from good homes immediately and then being reinstated after the court realized that they were removed without just cause. I have also had experiences with children that weren’t removed from their homes when they should have been and the abuse became worse because it was reported. I think it’s just important for people to consider the consequences of reporting things and try to give as clear of a picture as possible when they do a report.

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  6. I suffered all of the above abuse, growing up at home. Even as an adult I never quite feel safe anywhere. As a child it is hard to comprehend the full extent of the damage that is done. We were always too scared to call for help unless we got into more trouble. Good, informative post!

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