Child abuse is more than bruises and broken bones. While physical abuse might be the most visible sign, other types of abuse, such as emotional abuse or child neglect, also leave deep, long lasting scars. Some signs of child abuse are subtler than others. However, by learning common types of abuse and what you can do, you can make a huge difference in a child’s life. The earlier abused childrenget help, the greater chance they have to heal from their abuse and not perpetuate the cycle.Learn the signs and symptoms of child abuse and help break the cycle, finding out where to get help for the children and their caregivers.
Myths and facts about child abuse and neglect
MYTH #1: It's only abuse if it's violent.
Fact: Physical abuse is just one type of child abuse. Neglect andemotional abuse can be just as damaging, and since they are more subtle, others are less likely to intervene. .
MYTH #2: Only bad people abuse their children.
Fact: While it's easy to say that only "bad people" abuse their children, it's not always so black and white. Not all abusers are intentionally harming their children. Many have been victims of abuse themselves, and don’t know any other way toparent. Others may be struggling with mental health issues or a substance abuse problem.
MYTH #3: Child abuse doesn't happen in “good” families.
Fact: Child abuse doesn't only happen in poor families or bad neighborhoods. It crosses all racial, economic, and cultural lines. Sometimes, families who seem to have it all from the outside are hiding a different story behind closed doors.
MYTH #4: Mostchild abusers are strangers.
Fact: While abuse by strangers does happen, most abusers are family members or others close to the family
MYTH #5: Abused children always grow up to be abusers.
Fact: It is true that abused children are more likely to repeat the cycle as adults, unconsciously repeating what they experienced as children. On the other hand, many adult survivors of child abuse have astrong motivation to protect their children against what they went through and become excellent parents.
Effects of child abuse and neglect
All types of child abuse and neglect leave lasting scars. Some of these scars might be physical, but emotional scarring has long lasting effects throughout life, damaging a child’s sense of self, ability to have healthy relationships, and ability tofunction at home, at work and at school. Some effects include:
• Lack of trust and relationship difficulties. If you can’t trust your parents, who can you trust? Abuse by a primary caregiver damages the most fundamental relationship as a child—that you will safely, reliably get your physical and emotional needs met by the person who is responsible for your care. Without this base, it is verydifficult to learn to trust people or know who is trustworthy. This can lead to difficulty maintaining relationships due to fear of being controlled or abused. It can also lead to unhealthy relationships because the adult doesn’t know what a good relationship is.
• Core feelings of being “worthless” or “damaged.” If you’ve been told over and over again as a child that you are stupid or no good, itis very difficult to overcome these core feelings. You may experience them as reality. Adults may not strive for more education, or settle for a job that may not pay enough, because they don’t believe they can do it or are worth more. Sexual abuse survivors, with the stigma and shame surrounding the abuse, often especially struggle with a feeling of being damaged.
• Trouble regulatingemotions. Abused children cannot express emotions safely. As a result, the emotions get stuffed down, coming out in unexpected ways. Adult survivors of child abuse can struggle with unexplained anxiety, depression, or anger. They may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb out the painful feelings.
Types of child abuse
There are several types of child abuse, but the core element that ties them...
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