Victimized children carry scars that are both visible and tragically unseen. To be a little more specific, not all abuse is inflicted as bruises and broken bones. Trauma comes from emotional abuse, from verbal humiliation and being abandoned or neglected for days at a time. The perpetuation of these heartbreaking patterns of abuse can lead to children growing into poorly adjusted adults ready to repeat the same patterns on their own children.
Understanding the Cycle of Abuse
We all think of abuse as a physical product, as an adult slapping or otherwise inflicting pain upon children, and this is an extensive type of abuse, one that endangers the lives of youngsters everyday, but their are other types of abuse, more subtle in their application but just as traumatic to the child.
Emotionally tormenting and spiritually troubling, children are verbally assaulted by peers and parents, by adult figures of authority. Called stupid, belittled and threatened with physical harm, children face these hurtful remarks with stoic silence, retreating into their mind. The result is a tragic loss of self-esteem and crippling emotional problems where they feel worthless.
Far more insidious in its effects, abandoning a child, neglecting their development instead of providing nurturing love, impacts the healthy growth of blossoming adolescent identity. The child is ignored and treated like a piece of furniture, left to his or her own devices. It’s a passive type of abuse but still a terrible betrayal of the child’s love and fragile mental growth. In later years, grown into a teen, the youngster will lack confidence and be uncomfortable in social situations.
We turn away at the thought, refusing to accept the awful truth but sexual abuse happens to children. They’re touched inappropriately, forced to endure acts that contain sexual overtones, and placed in situations their young minds should never face.
Warning Signs to Look for
Guilt and confusion, frustration and anger, a child can’t comprehend the situation. Look for a child that has sunk into depression, or has become severely introverted. Panic attacks and fainting spells may be a sign of trauma that can no longer be contained within a young, immature mind. Obvious signs include long-sleeved tops and thick pants or leggings to conceal bruising, or even to hide evidence of self-harm, another awful symptom of abuse.
The Effects of Abuse
A parent is the sun and the moon to their child, the carer and provider of love. With a parents attention, a child knows they’re special, that love is all around. When this love is tragically missing or twisted by abuse, youngsters become confused, trying to bury the problem or rationalize it in ways the a young mind can understand. Guilt is one response, the feeling that they must have somehow brought about the mistreatment as some kind of punishment.
Most children survive abuse, some do not. Those that do are withdrawn and angry, mistrusting of adults and authority figures. Don’t wait until the problem becomes worse. Arrange a discreet appointment with a school counselor, call social services, or try talking to parents.
The everyday surface of a family may seem healthy and happy but abuse happens behind closed doors, the child often denying that a problem exists. Dispel myths and leave assumptions behind; abuse is a growing problem, damaging young lives every day. The problem has no class boundaries and no cultural discrimination. It’s a cycle, destined to repeat from generation to generation unless we take action today.
David Michael Cantor is the named partner and owner of the Law Offices of David Michael Cantor, Arizona’s Premier Criminal Defense Law Firm. For more information about certain Crimes Against Children, see their website: http://cantorsexlawyers.com