Author: Aditi Chandrasekhar
There’s a saddening abundance of occurrences of child abuse that crop up in the news everyday, and it is scary to think about the fact that these are just the cases that are reported about. Child abuse is more prevalent that you’d think inside the walls of a house. Obviously, it is morally wrong to abuse any living being. In the case of child abuse though, there are a multitude of consequences (some very complex) that manifest in the victim, and these psychological repercussions often affect them throughout their lives, or at least for a significantly long period of their lives. Some scars that child abuse leaves on the victim could be physical, but there are mental ones that accompany these too-they damage the victim’s relationships and general ability to function normally. An example is a lack of trust in relationships-it becomes extremely difficult for a victim of child abuse to foster healthy, nurturing relationships with their peers as the definition of trust itself is very vague according to them, due to the simple logic- If someone they loved and respected hurt them, then what is the meaning of trust? Another consequence can be having constant feelings of worthlessness. Positive reinforcements and acts of forgiveness are important for a child’s development. They provide a strong foundation for a good self-esteem and sense of self, later on in the child’s life. If the child has been abused, they inculcate thoughts of being worthless and this stays with them for a long time. When they grow up, abused children may neglect their education and later on, adult responsibilities like their family and job. There is a higher probability of abused children to turn to extremely harmful vices like alcohol and drugs to deal with the stress and anxiety that they experience as a result of not being able to identify and regulate their emotions. There is a common misconception that child abuse is just physical acts of violence but there are actually many forms of abuse-neglect, sexual abuse, exploitation and emotional abuse too. Regardless of the type of abuse, there are many negative effects that follow and hamper the child’s growth. It is up to us to be aware of the people surrounding us, check up on them and act on any signs they may be showing. If you suspect that a child is a victim of abuse or if they confide in you about some type of abuse that they’re facing, then it is vital to keep the following things in mind:
- Don’t give in to denial-It is our mind’s natural reaction to reject something that seems almost too unpleasant or shocking to be true but displaying this emotion in front of the child will only harm them even more. It is important to remain calm and reassuring.
- Don’t interrogate-Asking questions instead of letting the child decide what and how they’re going to tell you about the abuse, will inevitably fluster them or make them uncomfortable. It is necessary to give them time and space to tell their story.
- Provide safety and comfort-Reassure them that they weren’t in the wrong, and that you took them seriously. Think twice about any actions you decide to take, as the child’s safety is the most important consideration in the situation and anything that may threaten it should be avoided. Don’t neglect the situation and take it to the professionals.