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Copyright © 2017 Connexion Psychological Practice Ltd.

 

What is Abuse?

Physical abuse is an act of violence between two people who have a certain relation to each other such as family.  It is a domestic act of violence where the perpetrator uses anger or frustration to justify their attack; however it is always unacceptable and considered a crime.  Different ways of physical abuse could be punching, kicking, throwing objects, using dangerous items that could harm you, or physical restraint.  Many abusers have a mental condition or addiction that causes them to become very physically aggressive.

 

It could also be a parent that justifies it as discipline towards their child.  It could be stress from the workplace or an alcohol addiction that causes them to lose control of themselves very easily.  The perpetrator may also regularly apologize and and beg for forgiveness to win back the victim’s trust.  However after the apology, it usually happens again and this cycle makes it very difficult for the victim to escape since they always accept the apology.

 

Victims of physical abuse must always be serious about the issue and be willing to seek out help.  Many victims feel too afraid and threatened to be able to report the abuse because they fear that it will endanger them in the future.  Victims who do not seek help for a long period of time usually become influenced by the abuse and get used to it.  This may affect their own behavior and attitudes towards others outside.  Many children who are abused at home usually become very aggressive and bully others when they are at school.  They may also grow up to abuse their own children since it was the way that they were raised.  Victims may also suffer depression or have suicidal thoughts over time.  They may also have forms of PTSD, anxiety, stress, and low self esteem.  These traits have a heavy influence on their day to day life.

 

Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse that includes sexual activity with a minor. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, period. When a perpetrator engages with a child this way, they are committing a crime that can have lasting effects on the victim for years. Child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child. Some forms of child sexual abuse include:

 

  • Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor

  • Fondling

  • Intercourse

  • Masturbation in the presence of a minor or forcing the minor to masturbate

  • Obscene phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction

  • Producing, owning, or sharing pornographic images or movies of children

  • Sex of any kind with a minor, including vaginal, oral, or anal

  • Sex trafficking

  • Any other sexual conduct that is harmful to a child's mental, emotional, or physical welfare

 

How Can I Protect My Child From Sexual Assault?

Being actively involved in a child’s life can make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable coming to you if something isn’t right. If you see or hear something that causes concern, you can take action to protect your child.

 

  • Show interest in their day-to-day lives. Ask them what they did during the day and who they did it with. Who did they sit with at lunchtime? What games did they play after school? Did they enjoy themselves?

  • Get to know the people in your child’s life. Know who your child is spending time with, including other children and adults. Ask your child about the kids they go to school with, the parents of their friends, and other people they may encounter, such as teammates or coaches. Talk about these people openly and ask questions so that your child can feel comfortable doing the same.

  • Choose caregivers carefully. Whether it’s a babysitter, a new school, or an afterschool activity, be diligent about screening caregivers for your child.

  • Talk about the media. Incidents of sexual violence are frequently covered by the news and portrayed in television shows. Ask your child questions about this coverage to start a conversation. Questions like, “Have you ever heard of this happening before?” or “What would you do if you were in this situation?” can signal to your child that these are important issues that they can talk about with you. Learn more about talking to your kids about sexual assault.

  • Know the warning signs. Become familiar with the warning signs of child sexual abuse, and notice any changes with your child, no matter how small. Whether it’s happening to your child or a child you know, you have the potential to make a big difference in that person’s life by stepping in.

Encourage children to speak up

 

When someone knows that their voice will be heard and taken seriously, it gives them the courage to speak up when something isn’t right. You can start having these conversations with your children as soon as they begin using words to talk about feelings or emotions. Don’t worry if you haven't started conversations around these topics with your child—it is never too late.

 

  • Teach your child about boundaries. Let your child know that no one has the right to touch them or make them feel uncomfortable — this includes hugs from grandparents or even tickling from mom or dad. It is important to let your child know that their body is their own. Just as importantly, remind your child that they do not have the right to touch someone else if that person does not want to be touched.

  • Teach your child how to talk about their bodies. From an early age, teach your child the names of their body parts. Teaching a child these words gives them the ability to come to you when something is wrong. Learn more about talking to children about sexual assault.

  • Be available. Set time aside to spend with your child where they have your undivided attention. Let your child know that they can come to you if they have questions or if someone is talking to them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. If they do come to you with questions or concerns, follow through on your word and make the time to talk.

  • Let them know they won’t get in trouble. Many perpetrators use secret-keeping or threats as a way of keeping children quiet about abuse. Remind your child frequently that they will not get in trouble for talking to you, no matter what they need to say. When they do come to you, follow through on this promise and avoid punishing them for speaking up.

  • Give them the chance to raise new topics. Sometimes asking direct questions like, “Did you have fun?” and “Was it a good time?” won’t give you the answers you need. Give your child a chance to bring up their own concerns or ideas by asking open-ended questions like “Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?”

Treatment:

Treatment for physical abuse is not usually sought out since the majority of victims do not report this issue.  If someone is being physically or sexually abused, they are advised to immediately report it to an authority or person they trust.  It must never be kept out of the light or else it will never be solved.  However therapy sessions between both the perpetrator and victim are usually effective as they target anger patterns and flawed concepts that may cause the perpetrator to become aggressive.

The memories of physical and sexual abuse may last for a person’s lifetime, however therapy can always explore the victims feelings of depression and stress and help relieve them of their worries.  Strategies such as letting the victim be able to talk to someone they trust about their past experiences can be comforting to them and help them regain trust and confidence in themselves again.  Therapy also assures the victim that they are safe and that the actions of the perpetrator simply are not the victim’s fault.  Overall, therapy for abuse victims largely involves the understanding and capability of the therapist to help the victim feel more confident in themselves and also to regain trust in others again so that they won’t feel anxious and stressed out about the constant fear of being abused.

Abuse