Would you abuse your child? Most upstanding citizens and loving parents would be quick to answer -definitely not! . Think back to the last time your nerves were frazzled, you felt unfairly swamped by work and home, you’d just burnt the family dinner and parenthood seems to have overwhelmed you. Your youngster is playing noisily or your toddler is simply refuses the food you desperately need him to eat. Did you deal with the situation calmly? Or did you scream at him that he was bad or stupid or being a brat and you wish you’d never had kids?
In that one split section that it took you to shout those words, emotional abuse was cultivated.
As parents we have probably all fallen prey to this or similar because emotional abuse is as detrimental to a child as is physical abuse. They’re one in the same as the lasting effects are pretty much there for life.
Four main forms of child abuse
Child abuse can present in various forms. The four main types of child abuse are physical, sexual, psychological or emotional and neglect.
All forms will leave lasting scars visible into adulthood and in many cases will result in dysfunctional adults. Unless therapy is sought, the adult child of abuse may never be able to lead a happy, well adjusted life.
A child of emotional abuse is actually easy to spot if you know what you’re looking for. Strong signs of submissive behaviour, anxiety, nervousness and constantly trying to please are the obvious.
Ignoring what your child deserves
Child neglect is where the parent or caregiver ignores some or many of the basic needs of the baby or older child. This would include failing to provide adequate food, refreshments, clothing, neglecting to change soiled nappies or not keeping the child – if young – clean. There is an emotional aspect here too if the parent does not nurture, show love and affection or encourage the toddler to learn new things.
Physical abuse involves the bodily harm to a child and can include hitting, punching, kicking, shoving, slapping, burning, bruising, pulling of the ears or hair, stabbing, choking and even shaking a child.
Child sexual abuse is when an adult or even an older sibling, cousin, friend or stranger abuses a child for sexual stimulation whether it is penetration or oral sex on the child or the forcing of the child to perform such on the abuser.
Even though the child of sexual abuse may grow up to appear well adjusted there is almost always problems they will experience as a result.
Most common difficulties include guilt, self blame, low self esteem, insomnia, sexual dysfunction (either not wanting to participate in a healthy sexual relationship or promiscuity), post traumatic stress syndrome, self harm issues, mental illness and even eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia and compulsive eating.
The statistics globally for children who have been abused at the hand of a supposedly responsible adult are astronomical, with most reported cases showing that from neglect to rape the perpetrator is more often than not a family member or a trusted friend of the family.
Health problems later on
Research indicates that survivors of any of the full spectrum of childhood abuse often also suffer from various physical health problems during their adult lives. Some experience various types of chronic head, abdominal, pelvic and muscular pain which show no clues or links to any actual or tangible health problems.
The damage that is done by all types of abuse is numerous and can be debilitating even many, many years later. All because the so called responsible adult could not control his or her temper or sexual urge and chose an innocent, weaker child to afflict.
Police forces around the world are constantly urging those who see or even suspect abuse to report it. And in most countries the governments have declared war on perpetrators with the judicial systems taking a hard stance on perpetrators.