In Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have published online (http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/ccaps-spcca/chi-enf-eng.htm) the definition of child abuse. They state the four main areas are neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse:
“Failure to give due attention or care to a child resulting in serious emotional or physical harm,” comprises neglect of children.
If a child is verbally attacked or demeaned in any way which impacts his or her self image or self worth, that child has suffered emotional abuse.
“The intentional use of force against a child resulting in injury or causing bodily harm,” constitutes physical abuse.
And, any act of sexual conduct, touching, exploitation, intercourse directed at a child is child sexual assault.
In the United States, the federal government has legislated guidelines (https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/federal/ ) to the States by setting a minimum set of acts/behaviours which they define as child abuse and neglect.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway, reproduces the definition from The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)(42 U.S.C.A.§5106g) as:
- “Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation”; or
- “An act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.”
Other places in the world have similar legislation for the protection of our children. I speak of Canada and the US as they are the closest to me, and, which I have more of an understanding of, but, if you are reading this, please email me and I will add any law from your area.
Laws were created to protect children because the emotional and physical pain associated with childhood abuse is horrendous! Take into account, many abuses are committed by someone known and trusted making healing seem impossible. Physical scars come and go. Emotional scars persist! The unexhausted list of effects can include poor self-esteem, the inability to feel, problems with intimacy and how we parent our own children. Psychological effects such as anxiety, depression, hypervigilance or isolation became a constant threat.
We need to be cared for. Right from the womb. To be comforted and extended from this, we need safe touch, which begins with our first cry and lasts till our last breath. Tears require release. Everyone needs this. Child abuse survivors are one group who are conditioned from birth not to express tears.
Nobody Hears Our Cries
According to the HelpGuide.org website (http://www.helpguide.org/articles/secure-attachment/attachment-issues-and-reactive-attachment-disorders.htm), holding back comfort is one of the causes of reactive attachment disorder “where children will have difficulty connecting to others and managing their own emotions. This results in a lack of trust and self-worth, a fear of getting close to anyone, anger, and a need to be in control. A child with an attachment disorder feels unsafe and alone.”
What all the experts say, is a deep connection between child and parent/guardian is crucial to a child’s development.
As children, nobody heard our cries.
Yet, against all odds we survived! Even thrived! Survivors have and are doing some incredible things! Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is an amazing and creative way to endure and one we will discuss on the next slide.
Adult survivors of childhood abuse found the courage and strength to come forward by pressing charges against our abusers, seeking therapy and speaking out publicly. In doing this, we’ve been able to influence the active laws of the day. We’ve pushed the movement for abuse against any child or adult so it’s no longer ignored or ‘accepted.’ We showed the world what we feared. How ‘daddy’ touching me, left me afraid of sex; how ‘uncle Joe’ who was my first lover, changed me, or how my brother and his friends gang-raped me, isolated me from crowds.
By telling our stories and making precedents in the courts, we healed and in turn began to heal the world.