Abuse Survivor’s Tears
Adult survivors of childhood trauma report abuse at young ages. Many don’t remember a year they were not abused suggesting we need to protect our children from abusers, often their own mother and fathers. Soon after birth, abuse begins, and abuse survivor’s tears can run silently for a lifetime.
The Children’s Advocacy Center provide victim support for children and their families who are victims of abuse. In 2015, their centers around the US helped more than 310, 000 children. According to their website (http://www.nationalchildrensalliance.org/media-room/media-kit/national-statistics-child-abuse), 37% of those children were ages 0-6, 37% were aged 7-12 and 26% were 13-17. We need keep in mind these are the children serviced by the centers and the cases that were reported and counted in these figures. This figure is likely much higher.
We Need to Listen to Adult Survivors
Psychology Today states “Children who are abused are often afraid to complain because they are fearful that they will be blamed or that no one will believe them.” Therefore, its so important to listen to adult survivors of childhood abuse. Abuse survivor’s tears tell a story of horrific events and by giving us an outlet to healing, we are a major group who can stop further abuse of children. In many ways we told our friend’s parents, our safe family members, our teachers, priests or child advocates.
Daily from the time I was 6 until 16, my brother sexually and emotionally abused me. There were times during an argument I would get hysterical calling my older brother a “sex maniac” unable to control myself until my mother came to quiet me down. Often, at these times, friends of the family would be visiting. I was 6 years old. This acting out was my way of telling. Instead of asking why I would say such a thing, I was punished for embarrassing my family. The message I received and continued to receive was to down play the abuse, speak to no one and feel nothing.
Other Ways We Told
We told in other ways. We turned to alcohol and drugs at young ages, we attempted suicide, we were age inappropriate sexually, we shut down, we abused our younger siblings and we ran away. According to a Covenant House report, https://www.covenanthouse.org/homeless-teen-issues/statistics#, of the youth in shelters, 50% reported intense conflict or physical harm by family members and this was the reason why they are homeless.
Abuse survivors turned their tears into healing. Adult survivors of childhood abuse found the courage and strength to press charges against abusers, seek therapy and speak out publicly. By influencing the active laws of the day, we have pushed the movement against the abuse of children, 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.
Legal Definition of Child Abuse
Today, in Canada, the RCMP have classified child abuse into four areas: neglect, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
According to the website, (http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/ccaps-spcca/chi-enf-eng.htm), failure to care for a child causing emotional or physical harm constitutes neglect. Emotionally abused children are verbally attacked in a way which impacts their self image or worth. Using force causing bodily harm or any sexual conduct directed at a child comprise physical and sexual abuse.
Today, in the United States, the federal government’s guidelines, (https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/can/defining/federal/ ), define child abuse and neglect 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.” (The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA)(42 U.S.C.A.§5106g)
Other countries have similar legislation, but since I live in Canada and the US, I know these best. If you would like to add the law from your area please email me .
These laws were created to protect children. Effects of abuse can include poor self-esteem, the inability to feel, problems with intimacy and how we parent our children. Anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance and isolation become a constant thread in our lives.
By telling our stories and making precedents in the courts, we have healed and in turn have begun to heal the world.