January 28, 2015

What Is Child Abuse? Part 2

Trigger Warning: discussion of child abuse, ableist language and curse words.

In part 1, I spoke a bit about what it feels like to be abused and the long term effects it can have on a person. I hope I made it clear it's important not to minimize the effects of abusive behaviour on a child - whether it happens daily or infrequently is of no consequence, it still hurts. In some ways, having it happen infrequently or unpredictably can be even worse for a child, as they never know what will set the parent off. If you want your child to grow up with PTSD, that's an excellent method.

In this post, I want to give more detailed examples of emotional abuse and neglect. I'm not focusing on physical or sexual, as those are more noticeable or obvious types of abuse most people are more familiar with. I'm providing examples I've actually lived through.

-Threatening, with words or gestures, to hit or kill your child
-Giving your child the silent treatment
-Comments on their physical appearance: ugly, dirty, fat, smelly
-Comments on their character: stupid, lazy, idiot, useless, piece of shit, can't do anything right
-Comparisons to other people: "why can't you be like ______?"
-Withholding food or forcing child to eat
-Leaving child to cry alone when upset or hurt
-Leaving child alone at home before a reasonable age
-Manipulating children to resent their siblings: "I can't do this for you because then I would have to let your sister have this..."
-Accusing child of things they never did
-Buying child gifts after losing your temper
-Never apologizing for bad behaviour
-Not allowing child to discuss home life with anyone; actively teaching them social workers or others who can help are actually the enemy
-Threatening to leave child forever
-Threatening that the child will be taken away

The last two might sound like something the child would want, but please always remember a child is dependent on their caregivers. They love their parents regardless of how badly they are treated. It is all they know and they cling to whatever little piece of love or security they get. I still ran to my parents when hurt because there was no one else. Sometimes a child has no choice but to go straight to the arms of their abuser, even if that means they will be abused for it.

It is only as an adult when I realized I was truly free and did not deserve to be abused that I was able to set boundaries. In fact, it wasn't until I had my son that I realized the extent of how bad things were, because I finally realized that every parent has a choice in how they behave and parent. My parents made very bad choices. I choose not to make those choices, and everyone can make the choice not to abuse.

I speak openly about it and without shame because it needs to be talked about and the shame is not mine. But this is all I can write about it right now as it was triggering enough for me. If you have questions or comments, I will get to them in time.

Again, if you see yourself or someone else in these examples, you can get help. It doesn't have to be this way and you can start to repair the damage. 

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