Child Abuse – 3 Things You Need to Know

“I wish I could bring back my childhood,” says one woman who had a tragic early life experience. Her father was abusive, and she was neglected by her mother. At a very young age, she was forced to live on the street, and had to provide for her own necessities.

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Our hearts are broken when we hear such expressions of disappointment. Children are supposed to enjoy their childhood. They ought to feel warmth, love, and acceptance. Sadly, that has hardly been the case to some children. What have they experienced?

Emotional Abuse

Bruises and black eye may be obvious signs of child abuse. But absence of these does not mean absence of abuse in the family. Some cuts and bruises penetrate through the mind and heart. True, at times, family members might say or do things that offend others. But that could be isolated cases and are results of human imperfection.

On the other hand, emotional abuse is more than that. It is a pattern of behavior that tends to control its victim through: yelling, insulting, name-calling, bullying, or neglecting a child’s need for love, support and attention. The offender controls the victim by trying to sow fear and dependence. It can rob the victim’s self-worth and is psychologically and emotionally damaging to him.

Physical Abuse

This is thought to be the most common because the signs are noticeable. Are physical abuses accidental? No. This is a pattern, a chronic behavior of bringing deliberate physical harm to a child. This can be in the form of pushing, slapping, kicking, and beating that can lead to injuries such as burns, cuts, broken bones, or worse, death. These acts are intentional and offenders feel that these abuses are justifiable. But are they? It is important to remember that there is never a valid reason to justify a physical abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is defined by American Psychological Association as “unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent.” Although sexual abuse is prevalent in the society, only few information are gathered, since offenders usually tell their victims not to tell anyone.

There are two types of sexual abuse:

  • Contact abuse. This seems to be the very first thing to come in mind when we hear the phrase “sexual abuse”. It involves the touching of body parts with sexual intention, rape, or forcing the child to partake in any sexual activity.
  • Non-contact abuse. Offenders do this online. Offenders persuade young children to watch sexual acts or sexually exploiting the child for money.

Some people think that child abuse is only done by acquaintances or strangers. But in reality, most of the abuses are caused by family members or those who are close to the family. What is most shocking is that it can happen even in a seemingly happy family.

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Three ways to make the divorce process easier for children

More kids are now experiencing the stress of divorce each year than before. The way children react to their parents’ divorce depends on the personality, age and situation. Divorce significantly affects the kids involved. The reaction is usually sadness, shock, frustration, worry or anger. To make your kids cope up with this stressful situation, you need to take the following steps.

Telling them about divorce

You should talk to your children upfront about your decision to get a divorce from your partner. If possible, both the parents must be present. You must explain to your child that sometimes parents cannot agree upon things, their love for each other changes and due to several other reasons they cannot live together anymore. You must tell them that it’s not their fault. When having the conversation with your kid, you should keep aside all your anger, blame and guilt. You should speak according to the child’s age, temperament, and maturity. You should assure your kid that none of you will stop loving each other even if you don’t live with your partner anymore.

Help kids to prepare for the changes

You should accept whatever the reaction can be from your child after hearing the news. Assure your child that it’s all right to react in such manner. Tell kids what changes they may expect in future; for example, who is going to bring them from school, where are they going to stay, where will they spend the holiday, where will each parent live, etc. You must be honest with your kid in answering every question.

Adjusting to the new life

Divorce can make significant changes in life. You should handle these changes gradually. You may get sole custody or joint custody of your child. You need to make arrangements regarding which parent kids can visit for how long. Your kid’s need must come first in making the arrangements.

Divorce is a very sensitive issue, and you must handle it very carefully. You should take each step gradually and help your kid adjust to the new lifestyle.