Marion and his younger sister came from a well-to-do family. Marion had the typical American life complete with the white picket fence and the dog. Both his parents worked in the local government, attended church and were very involved in their children’s school. So it was a shock to everyone in the community when news about Marion’s abuse came out. Turned out, the father had a mean streak and would take it on his children.
When asked by police officers after his father’s arrest, this heartbreaking confession came from the 12-year-old’s mouth: “Dad gets angry when something in his office doesn’t work out well. But he said he had an image to protect there. I guess that’s why he…abuses us. And me, I just want to protect my little sister ‘coz she always gets sick. So when he comes home angry, I let her hide somewhere and take the punishments.”
We might think the above story only happens in movies and TV dramas, but no, they’re a reality. And part of our awareness about child abuse being aware that what we think is true about the matter is actually not. According to Sharie Stines, PsyD, “Abuse is a misuse of power intended to harm or control another person. The maltreatment can be physical, verbal, or emotional. All types of abuse can cause pain and psychological distress.” On that note, here are five abuse myths exposed.
- Abuse is only abusing when we see physical signs.
Child abuse isn’t just physical abuse or sexual abuse [since these are, arguably, the kinds of violence we see physical and telltale signs of]. There are many forms of it — verbal abuse, emotional abuse and even neglect. These types of abuse all have the same dire effects on the victim – consequences that included anxiety, depression, to aggression and even rebellion or acting out. According to licensed psychotherapist Annie Wright, “Any kind of treatment that intentionally or unintentionally undermines and puts at risk a child’s health, welfare, or dignity is, in my professional opinion, a kind of abuse.”
- Child abusers are someone who’s a stranger to the victims.
Yes, while most abusers are strangers, there are cases wherein the perpetrator is someone close to the child – a family member, a relative, a friend, even someone who is of authority in school or any extracurricular activity the child’s involved in. According to Catherine McCall, LMFT, “93 percent of all child sexual abuse occurs at the hands of someone known to the child and trusted by the parents.”
- It’s always the bad people who abuse children.
Again, this isn’t ALWAYS the case. Some abusers actually think they have good intentions when they dole out the abuse. Some may have been victims of child abuse themselves and pattern their way of parenting to how their parents treated them in the past. Others could be dealing with mental health maladies or have drugs and substance problems.
- Child abuse isn’t an issue in “good” families.
Child abuse crosses boundaries may that be economic, racial and even cultural. Like in Marion’s case, there’s a high possibility that families who we think have it all are hiding something behind their closed doors.
- Abused kids become abusers themselves when they grow up.
No, they don’t. While it’s true that there’s a higher chance of abused children growing up unconsciously mimicking the experiences they had when they were kids, there’s a large percentage of adults who are child abuse survivors who strive to do differently. They take their experience as a motivation to protect their own kids from what they went through in the past and go on to be great moms and dads.
It’s been a year since the news breakout. Marion and his sister are doing well as they go counseling together.
“I know what Dad did was wrong. I love him and I miss him but what he did was wrong,” Marion said. Then he added with a smile, “But you know what the counselor said to me one time? He said I was brave for protecting my sister. And unlike Dad, I don’t have a mean streak at all.”