Trust and Power:: How You Can Help Prevent Child Abuse

Trust and Power:: How You can Help Prevent Child Abuse | Houston Moms Blog

In 1983 The United States of America designated April as the month to raise awareness of child abuse in our country. Barack Obama continued the tradition in 2016 in a presidential proclamation stating, “During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect.”

And yet it happens daily, all over the world. Children are being exploited, abused and broken.

I have stumbled on my words, cried bitter tears, and have really struggled to find my voice. A voice that will give this story enough power to spread wildfire in your bellies, a fierceness to speak for the victims of abuse, and to stand for those who can’t stand for themselves. A voice that can give this subject the very justice that it deserves. A voice that can be a loud enough to drown out all the silence. Abuse is silent. It happens across all barriers. Rich or poor, any race, any gender and any age. 

What is the definition of child abuse, you might ask. After doing much research you will find many explanations but the one that summed it up for me was published by The World Health Organization {WHO} who defines child abuse and child maltreatment as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust and power. 

Trust and Power

Two words that can mean anything, to me they hold such meaning; they are words that should hold us to a higher standard. When you as a human being use the trust of a child and your power to coerce, intimidate, manipulate or hurt, that is abuse.  Controlling a child, by gaining their trust in order to inflict pain or to exploit their human rights is abuse! Using your power to instill their silence is abuse. Rather, let us use our power to gain the trust of those that have been broken, to speak for them, to heal the road forward, and to break the cycle of abuse. Offer safety, security, and a safe space for healing.

Trust and power. Two words. Two words that can change the world.

You and you and you and you

Did you know most cases of abuse happen by the hands of the people we know, people in our inner circle? These are people that we love and trust. Growing up, my parents were all about don’t talk to strangers and stranger danger. Never were we made to question those around us, because the thought of it was unthinkable. Well, it is happening. It is happening right under our noses, and as I type, another child is being abused somewhere. We need to teach our children to tread gently, to question everything, and to never ever doubt that little voice that makes them feel uncomfortable in a situation or that makes them want to scream. Teach your children to trust their voices and to speak up. 

I am pretty sure if we all sat down and swapped stories, we would all have a story of abuse, either our own or someone we know, someone we love. Abuse touches most of us sometime in our lives. We all know someone that has been hurt by a father, an uncle, a teacher, a friend, a caregiver, a brother, a mother or a stranger.

Over a decade ago, an ex-boyfriend hit me. I won’t ever forget that first slap. It tainted me, and made me feel so terribly ashamed. I can still feel that sting. The abuse compounded from there, the punches got harder, the bruises were bright, the pain mounted, and the feel of his shiny black shoes as he kicked me broke both my willpower and my voice. I became a shell of the strong woman I was, whimpering and silent, and so terribly embarrassed that it happened at all. What stays with me though was always after, the weeping and sorrow and regret, the promises it would never happen again. That it was his father’s fault that he got so angry, that he grew up in home where he witnessed severe abuse against his mother, and felt the brush of his fathers fists, and that it wasn’t his fault. But it always happened again. Anger, fueled by alcohol and childhood trauma. He created another life of violence to live through, this time by his own hands. He could not escape his demons. Most can’t or simply don’t. 

I did, and I escaped his trauma.

His father was eventually stabbed to death by his stepfather in his teens. Abuse has a cycle of its own, and if you water it enough you can plant a forest of hurt. It is a cycle that needs to be stopped. We have given abuse its warm protection of silence for far too long.

What Abuse Looks Like

Abuse is not just physical, it is sexual, it is psychological, mental, emotional, it is neglect and malnutrition, just to name a few. These all have far-reaching consequences in the life of the child going forward. Did you know Shaken Baby Syndrome is a common form of child abuse that often results in permanent neurological damage? Neglect and maltreatment effect growth and have higher rates of chronic conditions and high risk health behaviors. Exposure to violence during childhood in all likelihood leads to alcohol and or drug addiction and the victim has a higher chance of becoming a perpetrator themselves. Effects of child sexual abuse on victims include guilt and self-blame, nightmares, insomnia, self esteem difficulties, addiction, suicidal thoughts, depression, and more. The trauma of abuse does not go away. We need to do more. We need to be more aware. We need to speak up.

Speak up

Should you have information of any form of child abuse, child neglect or exploitation of children please call the 24 hour National child abuse hotline on 1-800-422-4453. 

This article has some startling statistics and vital information for parents on how to raise children to speak up until they are believed about any abuse they witness or experience.

Pinwheel for children 

The pinwheel is a national symbol of childhood. “It takes action to prevent child abuse, just as it takes action to make a pinwheel move”. Go out today and plant your pinwheel, raise awareness, speak up. Let us all stand united in protecting our children today, that we may have a brighter, happier and safer world for our children tomorrow.

 


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