Survivors of child abuse need to know that it was not their fault, they did not deserve it and the shame belongs to their abusers not to them !
The future lies in our children – all of our children – even (or especially?) the abused ones.
As a survivor of abuse myself, and the mother of abused children, as someone who has spoken to countless survivors and studied the research and statistics, I strongly believe that the way to end child abuse lies in how we deal with those who have been abused. That is one big reason why I am so very proud to be a part of the FACAA team.
All too often, children who suffer any form of abuse, be it neglect, psychological, physical, emotional or sexual, feel that they have somehow deserved that abuse. They take it all on board and internalise it in ways that will haunt them for many years. On top of that of course is the actual trauma itself and the reactions and ripple effects from that.
Many develop PTSD, Complex PTSD, drug and alcohol issues, depression, relationship and trust issues, self harming behaviours and suicidal ideologies to name a few of the problems faced.
We know from the research on Critical Incident Management used around the world for assisting first responders that PTSD can be avoided if the traumatic event is dealt with swiftly and carefully. Very often of course, disclosures are made many years after the abuse has taken place so in those cases it cannot be avoided and it cannot always be avoided in cases where the abuse is immediately evident either.
What can be done though, in each and every case, is to ensure that that child, or those children, are cared for comprehensively, respectfully and professionally as soon as practically possible. We need this to become common practice, right across the board, with every agency that deals with abused children. We need to let those kids know that it was never their fault, that they did not deserve to be treated that way, that the shame is not theirs and never was theirs.
Taking the abuser or the child away is never enough. Telling the child things like “It’s over now”or “just try to forget about it” can actually do more harm in some ways, making them feel that it is not okay to keep thinking or talking about what has happened to them.
We need to be ready to hear them, to validate them, to care for them, to nurture and support them – right from the very beginning for as long as they need us.
If we can do that, we will be a lot closer to ending not only abuse but many of the problems faced by communities across Australia. Our future is in our hands, as are our children. We need to step up and shoulder that responsibility before it is too late.
Please note – this post is not in any way meant to imply that all people who have been abused will develop mental health, drug and alcohol, or other problems and it is not intended to offend anyone. I am simply talking about what we know for a fact becomes the reality for a large percentage of survivors (GE)
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