Child Abuse: How Can It Affect Its Victims?

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A child who has gone through a lot of abuse and violence at home will most likely experience trauma. According to Suzanne Burger, PsyD, “Trauma is best understood as any life experience or enduring conditions that overwhelms a person’s nervous system and emotional capacity to manage it.” There are many adverse effects that are associated with child abuse. As you probably know by now, there are different forms of harm that a particular kid may encounter such as physical, emotional, and verbal. The causes of the infliction of this abuse may vary from one situation to another. However, when it comes to adverse effects, these are almost the same. Check this list:

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The Downside Of Trying Hard To Give Your Kids A Better Future

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Parents naturally want to become the best providers for their children. That is especially true if they have experienced hardships themselves as kids. They don’t wish for them to worry about not having enough money for food or roof over their heads. Hence, such moms and dads tend to work harder than anyone. “Burnout is feeling overwhelmed and unfulfilled at the same time,” says Deborah Gilboa, MD, a parenting expert in Pittsburgh. “Look at the big picture and make changes.”

The thing is, spending a lot of hours in the office means parents can’t be with their kids as often as they should. It can bring a lot of cons, namely:

You Have To Spend More Time Away From Your Children

The primary disadvantage of working too hard to give your kids a better future is that you have to spend a lot of time away from them. After all, when your goal is to snag an executive position in a company or build your own, you cannot stay idle at home. You need to be out there, doing your work, and interacting with people who can help you level up. Otherwise, your rivals may speed past you.

You Cannot See The Kids Reach Every Milestone In Person

It is also a downer to know that you have to go on a business trip when your firstborn is supposed to attend their first recital or graduate from high school. It does not feel okay either to see your kids and spouse post photos from the event, and you’re the only one missing there. No matter how much you want to be with them as they reach another milestone in their life, you can only congratulate them online or via phone.

You Risk Having Emotionally Distant Children

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I have personally come across kids who are closer to the person who stayed with them often than the parents whom they saw one or two months yearly. They stay polite, but you can tell how forced their smiles are. They don’t talk back, but they don’t speak much to you either. Worse, when a child needs something, they go straight to the carer instead of the parent who’s also there. According to Francyne Zeltser, Psy.DRather than just worry about it, ask your children directly how she is feeling on a daily basis, and try not to be dismissive of h      er concerns. It’s important to validate your child’s feelings and show her that you’re here to listen.”

You Cannot Regain Lost Time

Last but not least, trying too hard to give every material object that your kids may ask for makes you lose the time that you should have spent with them. You need to focus on generating a lot of money, after all. You rarely go on holidays; if you do, you may be on your phone or computer often. As long as you can provide their financial needs, you think that everything will be okay. However, it is impossible to regain lost time with your family.

To Sum Things Up

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The life of a working mom or dad cannot be easy. You practically have to juggle two full-time jobs as a worker and a parent. You may

not be in a position either to turn in a resignation letter and focus on the kids. Still, you need to remember that your family should be your priority. If you let too much time pass without them, they may end up not needing you anymore. Despite the possible negative effects of having working parents, children may also experience certain benefits if they have working parents who responsibly attend to their needs.” says psychologist Ashley Miller.

Protect Your Child From Sexual Predators (Psychologists’ Recommendation)

We know that there are already local and private organizations that set up a program to help families in protecting their children against sexual abuse. These organizations involve different concerned people like psychologists, therapists, medical professionals, volunteers, etc. The part of the job is to spread awareness far and wide. One of the primary goals is to teach families the proper way of making sure that children are protected from sexual predators as much as possible. Without further ado, here are the simple things members of the family can do to secure their kids’ safety.

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1.      Every family needs to make sure that children know the name of their private parts. Yes, you read that correctly. Instead of naming it differently, educating children to use the right name for their sensitive parts is beneficial in understanding its importance. According to Natasha Tracy, a sought after expert for advice in many mental health disorders, ”Label the body parts using the correct terms and use accurate names for sex acts as developmentally appropriate. Make sure the child knows that it’s not OK for someone to touch his private parts.” It is comprehensible that there is a misconception about being vocal on those things. However, if all members of the family are open and frank about it in a conversation, children will think of it as body parts. So when kids know what those parts are, they can immediately pay close attention to sexual predators. These children can say it loud when predators are attempting to touch it. With that, these kids will become less likely a victim because predators appear intimidated with their knowledge about their use and importance. Aside from that, the children’s familiarity with their private parts can make it easier to follow up procedures like in an investigation or court hearings.

2.      Perhaps you can consider your children to feel close to all members of the family. There are times that even those not-so-close relatives and outsiders get welcomed in the house because of a significant relationship. However, you must put in mind that having a benefit of the doubt is a must. You need to think about your kids’ too much closeness with these people. In that way, you can potentially secure a distance between closeness and unintentional sexual act. In line with that, teach your children to honor and value physical awareness. Make them realize that too much body contact is unnecessary. Hugging and kissing other people without the thought of malice might be okay at times. But consecutively, it is not healthy.

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3.      There is a misconception when trying to explain to children what the word “SECRET” is all about. Yes, teaching children the value of keeping a secret is appropriate behavior. However, there is always a limitation as to what types of secrets the children are trying to hide. At least make them realize that some secrets are still secrets even if parents know all about it. It will support open communication in any situation. “The establishment (and eventual betrayal) of affection and trust occupies a central role in the child molester’s interactions with children…. The grooming process often seems similar from offender to offender, largely because it takes little to discover that emotional seduction is the most effective way to manipulate children.” Says Anna C. Salter, Ph.D. The kids will not be afraid to tell their family about any sexual attempts they encounter. Yes, sometimes, it will be hard to identify sexual abuse, and your children might not view the act that way. However, when you let them know that secrets can be alarming, make them understand that it is utterly essential to share it with you.

4.      It is okay to ask your children about their day. Allow them to share and narrate their happy moments. Make them think that in a conversation, it is vital to be open about everything. But make sure the children also understand that asking about their safety is also part of the conversation. So better ask them if they feel safe around with people. These include throwing direct questions if someone is trying to harm them or attempting to get too close. It will become an opportunity to know what is genuinely going on with the children, especially when they are away from you. Always pay attention to how they try to narrate their story. Make sure that you know how to identify the children’s gesture when something is not right about their reaction.

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5.      Allow your children to avoid hugs and kisses or anything that requires body contacts. That is primarily when the act gets enforced. It may seem a little uncomfortable in the beginning. However, it will become a better chance to explain to them the value of their right to their own body. You must understand that allowing your kids to say “NO” doesn’t mean they are rude. Instead, it will enable them to set limitations on what kind of physical contact is acceptable and not. Sexual predators according to consultant psychiatrist Dr. Ken Ung, “Other than seeking sexual gratification, they could also be looking for a sense of control and power over their younger victims. They may like to be the one making suggestions or initiating things.”

Bear in mind that you can’t protect your children 24/7. However, you can allow them to protect themselves by educating the right information.

Why Psychologists Focus On The Dangers Of Childhood Abuse

When we discuss child protection, there is this goal of keeping the child’s overall health. That includes his emotional, physical, and mental aspects. As parents, it is our responsibility always to consider his development before anything else. Thus, there is proper parenting. There is a need for support, care, understanding, and love. However, parenting is not perfect, and it will never be one. Sometimes, as adults, we do things that we think are okay for a kid, but are genuinely not. There is this mentality that because we are the “parents,” we have the right to control a young individual in inconsiderable ways. But that is wrong. It will never become a point to validate how harsh we can be to our child. That explains why a lot of psychologists want us to recognize what types of danger are there in abusing a child.

Childhood abuse develops into a life-long mental and emotional issue. It strengthens the child’s negative traits such as insecurities and self-doubt. It also leads to intimacy and relationship problems too later in his life. According to Susanne Babbel MFT, PhD,  “For children that have suffered from abuse, it can be complex getting to the root of childhood trauma in order to alleviate later symptoms as adults.” Depending on the severity of any kinds of childhood abuse, it can cause the kid to suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression as well.

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Verbal Abuse

Name-calling or any other types of verbal abuse is typical to some of us parents. That is because we believe that words don’t hurt at all. We think that spitting out those words are reasonable to our current emotional outburst.  We are confident that our kid will forget about it eventually. But the truth is, words mean a lot to a child. It severely hurts his feelings and changes his perception of life. Aside from the emotional damage the verbal abuse can do, it affects the mental state as well. It increases the child’s potential for developing a personality disorder. That is because verbal abuse negatively alters brain development.

Physical Abuse

Any harmful activity that causes our kid to feel pain in his body is physical abuse. Kicking, biting, slapping, hitting, choking, and throwing are only to name a few. These unfavorable actions that most of us often do to our kid develop scars, bruises, cuts, and broken bones. In some unfortunate instances, these physical abuses cause death, depending on how hard parents would beat him. Some parents would say that these actions are appropriate in punishing a kid when he makes a mistake. However, most experts don’t support the idea of hurting a child physically. They believe that it will not help a child understand a lesson. Instead, physical punishment will only result in emotional and mental damage.

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Shaming

Shaming a child for doing something that most of us parents think is wrong is abusive behavior. Psychologists explain it as something we inflict only to gain control towards our kid. For some of us, it is a significant practice because it makes a child listen and pay more attention. Thus, shaming supports some parents in getting what they want. However, its consistency in parenting creates an unpleasant outcome. Our kid loses trust and confidence towards other people. With shame, he will fear to do something without approval. He becomes dependent on instructions and is often anxious about his decisions in life. As he grows up, our child becomes more hesitant in developing social connections due to the fear of betrayal.

Helicopter Parenting

The practice of helicopter parenting is so overbearing that we do not allow a child to have any say even on minor details on his life. Yes, it is understandable that most of us only want to regularly check-in on our special one. However, the negative behavior deprives the kid of having a healthy boundary. Helicopter parenting pushes our child to progress mental scars. With that, he becomes susceptible to psychological illnesses. These include different cases of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, sleep problems, PTSD, and phobias. If trauma is repeated, for instance, as in chronic physical or sexual abuse, then the disorder might persist more than it would after only one incident. Repetition has a cumulative effect, as unresolved trauma is layered upon unresolved trauma,” says  Natalie D’Annibale, PsyD, LMFT. In some unfortunate cases, our helicopter parenting even pushes a child to self-harm and encourages suicidal thoughts.

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When a child gets neglected with proper understanding, love, and care, he instantly experiences many problems in both current and later life. We can expect him to develop emotional, psychological, physical, and social underdevelopment. As parents, it is essential that we know how our ways of parenting can avoid childhood abuses. According  to Tanya J. Peterson, a certified mental health counselor, “Childhood abuse, especially child sexual abuse, increases the likelihood of PTSD in adulthood. Childhood abuse is physically and emotionally damaging, and it disrupts the healthy development of the child. This can make someone vulnerable to future abusive relationships and further exacerbate PTSD.”

How To Comfort An Abused Child

Finding out that someone has been physically, emotionally or verbally abused can be disheartening and frustrating all at the same time. It sucks to discover that someone has the propensity to cause harm to another, especially when who is involved in the situation is a young individual. Can you imagine a child being beaten by his parents? Did you encounter a scenario where a nanny or baby sitter abuses a toddler? Have you heard in the news how adults can be brutal to some children, particularly those who are psychopaths? When not handled properly, all these things can cause stress and anxiety on your part. No matter how hard you try to let it go, you will still end up feeling sad for the abused victim. Many people who suffer from sexual abuse or sexual assault can also suffer long-term effects from the abuse. These effects may include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), overwhelming anxiety, panic attacks, and being afraid of going outside or in places that remind the person of the abuse.” says John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

 

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In this article, our primary focus would be on the proper ways on how an adult like you can comfort a child who has been abused by another adult. Before anything else, you have to understand that this task is quite complicated because the victim is more likely going to avoid you at all costs. This child may fear for his life or that of his loved ones, which is why he would make an effort to stay away from you. Instead of giving up directly, it is best to keep on trying in reaching out to the said person. Do not stop just because he says so.

Here are some of the other tips and tricks that you must always remember if you want to help or comfort an abused kid:

 

Offer A Lending Hand

The first or initial step that you must do is to inform the child involved that you are willing to provide assistance or support. Let him know that he can always call upon you whenever he needs help. According to Fiona Smith, “It may be a difficult issue to face, but it is much harder for the victims – especially those not receiving the help they need.” Keep in mind that this person is not going to say yes immediately to your offer, which is why it is crucial to be patient and understanding during the process. Do not insist on helping him to the point that he would run away from you for good. A better way of doing this is to merely inform him that you are by his side no matter what happens.

 

Be A Good Listener

The moment the abused individual finds solace in your company, he will start to open up about his problems and issues. Start by having a discussion with your child about how important it is to trust one’s own inner voice, or conscience. Continue asking your child how they feel about certain experiences. This act will help your child learn that to look inside is an important aspect of life.” says Sharie Stines, PsyD. The ideal thing to do is to listen carefully to what he is going to share. Do not interrupt him when he is talking. Let him lead the conversation until he stops. By becoming a good listener, you are helping the other person to process his thoughts and emotions. As he talks about his frustrations and pains, he will start to understand his situation. Somehow, it can motivate him to find all possible ways to stop the cycle of violence. He would be inspired to stand up against the abuser and take the necessary steps to ensure that the abuse will never happen again.

 

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Call The Authorities

Another way of comforting the child is to initiate the process of connecting with the proper government agencies who can look into the abuse that the said individual has suffered. Take note that there are several laws of the state that are intended to protect and uphold the rights of the children. No one is supposed to hamper on the rights of the children just because they are underprivileged. Do not hesitate to fast track the process, especially if you can see that the offender has become extremely dangerous.

 

Seek Professional Help

If you want to help an abused child overcome a traumatic experience, it is suggested to seek professional help from the right therapist. All you need to do is to find the best counselor or therapist in your local community who can assist the victim of the abuse. However, before doing this, it is best if you would talk to the child first about the consequences of attending therapy sessions. Remember that you can never compel him to try therapy if he is not comfortable in doing it. Learn how to respect his decision.

As an adult, you must ensure that all children around you live a happy and normal life. If something goes wrong, feel free to go over the items mentioned above.

 

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Anxiety Disorders: Even Kids And Teens Can Suffer From It!

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What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is part of human nature. Now and then, people get upset, disappointed, frustrated and worried. Anxiety happens when a person becomes worried if things get out of hand or fall short of their expected outcome. This is perfectly normal, but when the worrying becomes too much that it affects your performance at school or at work, your ability to concentrate and your sleeping patterns, then, your anxiety is becoming a problem. According to Emily Guarnotta, PsyD, a licensed psychologist in New York, “Anxiety is too much worry or fear, so much that affects your emotional state, relationships, and ability to perform at work or school. Having some mild anxiety from time to time is normal, but anxiety can turn into a disorder when it reaches a point of interfering with your life.” The alarming point to this is that even kids and teens can suffer from it, not just adults.

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How To Spot Sexual Predators?

As parents, we need to look for proactive measures that will prevent sexual predators from harming our kids. According to Lynda Savage, LMFT, “A sexual predator is not only the one who acts out sexual deeds. It is also the one who allows sexual stimulation to occupy thoughts and speech. Males and females can and do perpetrate these thoughts if not actions, which appear innocent toward each other.” There’s a need to educate ourselves on identifying the common characteristics of these offenders. We need to use it to secure our family from the danger that these individuals may bring. And because no technological advancement can separate these sexual predators from ordinary people, we need to know what makes them different from the others. If we want to keep them away from having involvement in our lives, we should learn what to look for so we can act accordingly.

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Characteristics Of A Sexual Offender

  • Sexual predators engage in repeated unnoticeable acts of physical contact with adolescents or young adults. Some examples of their actions are tickling or roughhousing. Though some people consider it normal at some point, it triggers a desire for these individuals.
  • An awkward physical contact with individuals that tend to go against their will becomes exciting for sexual predators. Inflicting humiliation and pain reflects their nonempathetic characteristic. They get excited by the idea of challenge in sexual contact.
  • Watching or participating acts of violence on a regular basis is one of sexual predators’ habit. They also like to watch others engaging in sexual activities secretly. Sometimes, even watching someone undressing becomes exhilarating for them as well. This practice is called voyeurism.
  • Sexual offenders take zero precautions when addressing public areas. Meaning, most of them enjoy being seen by others as they attempt to endanger or molest someone. They also find satisfaction in seeing images of people’s private parts. They find stimulation on the visual representation that somehow keeps them aroused.
  • These individuals lack empathy for their victims. Sexual offenders don’t see remorse on their actions and consider the practice valid for specific reasons. These include telling the victim they deserve the sexual abuse due to wearing revealing clothes.
  • Sexual offenders find happiness discussing sexual activities. They see it amusing when someone is sharing stories about sexual interactions.
  • Most sexual predators are likable. That is what makes them good at hiding their acts for so long. They are good at lying, manipulating, and convincing young adults to become part of their lives. According to Kathryn Brohl, LMFT, “The majority of sexual offenders know their victims.”
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Sexual predators know what they are doing because they have a focused mindset. They practice the art of grooming where they gain the trust of their victim or his or her family to be able to start a sexual relationship in secret. It goes to a process that allows predators to fulfill their devious desires.

Methods Used By Sexual Predators

Identifying Their Victims – Sexual predators pick their targets based on the preferred age and looks. Sometimes, it could be the victim’s vulnerable traits. In many instances, the fulfillment of the act is due to parents not being around, the target has low self-esteem, or just trying to use friendship as a stepping stone for building up a sexual relationship. There are many different ways and reasons to identify their victims.

Gaining Access And Trust – It is the most crucial part of identifying a sexual predator because no one can see it coming. Since people get easily attached to someone who is helpful and likable, they tend to give out trust. However, the problem lies in the process of how sex offenders see the advantage of the situation. They will try to do small things that seem typical in people’s relationship with others in a way to gain trust. It is not something that victims or their family notice right away.

Becoming An Important Person – One of the most convincing methods of sexual predators is being a significant person in the family. It makes them hold the situation in their hands because their participation becomes needed. They use it as an advantage not to lose sight of their target and genuinely create a bond to keep them around.

Start Isolating The Target – Most sexual predators invest in a tight relationship with the victims and their families. However, when it is the time to engage in the sexual act, they begin to isolate their target. Meaning, they find ways to set up scenarios where they can remove the people away from the child’s parameter. It is the most advantageous state because victims are vulnerable in that particular situation.

The Infliction Of Fear – Sexual offenders inflict fear on their victims. Sometimes, they threatened to harm young adults or maybe someone they love. It becomes a perfect way to control the target so they won’t be able to seek for help.

Sexualizing The Relationship – Even the smallest thing that contains any physical contact brings gratification to most sexual offenders. These include putting an arm in the victim’s shoulder, rubbing someone on their back, placing a hand on the knee, and linking arms while walking together. From there, the feeling grows and becomes a sexual desire that predators take that way. According to Licia Freeman, LMFT, “A sex predator can be a sex addict, but it does not mean that every sex predator is a sex addict.”

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It’s true that not everyone will go through the same stages of these acts because everyone’s process is going to be different with everybody else. However, as parents, we need to stay alert and cautious for our family and children’s sake.

Stop Your Child’s Panic Attacks

As a parent, it’s so heartbreaking to see the amount of anxiety and stress that a child can experience, especially when it requires a panic attack. According to Shannon V. McHugh, PsyD, “Some people experience such significant amounts of worry or fear that they develop mental health conditions that can induce ‘panic attacks’.” A proper understanding of how to defuse that stress and anxiety is fundamental. There’s a complete sense of getting back to a place of calmness, and figuring out the actual underlying concerns about the situation to be able to move on.

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Keeping The Faith According To A Therapist

It may be a shock to many, but yes, sexual exploitation by church workers actually happens. According to Linda K. Oxford, LMFT, “Many churches naively assume that their church is a safe haven where abuse and exploitation of vulnerable others would never take place. Until it does.” No matter how hard the church covers up for the wrong acts of their priests, ministers, and other workers, the truth will still find its way out.

There are many issues nowadays about church workers who sexually abuse kids, and often the abuse takes place right in the house of worship. “There are a lot of myths and misperceptions right now,” says Bill Mochon, PsyD, a Los Angeles psychologist who facilitates group sessions for priests. There has been news about these things in the past, but after a day or two, the reports would die down.

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But for a person who has heard it, and somehow believed it, how can he listen to a pastor or a parish priest’s message after hearing news about their dreadful sexual corruption of children? Plus the sad truth is that the higher-ups are covering these issues so not to ruin the image of the church.

This sexually abusing of children happens not only in the U.S. but around the world.  For some, justice has been delivered, but for many, they are still at loss as to what will happen to their cases.  What morality are we going to teach our kids especially those who are victims of abuse if justice will not be served to them?  Continue reading Keeping The Faith According To A Therapist