“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.
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?
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.
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 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.