In conjunction with National Children’s Awareness Month this June, which is the month where we promote awareness on safe environment for children, let’s talk about child abuse that had some children’s childhood being taken away by violence of any sorts. Children are easily exposed to violence, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect, which could happen in the context of home, school and any affiliated social circle. According to Portal MyHEALTH Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (2021), at least 1000 cases of child abuse were reported each year, with a total of 3,875 being reported during January to September 2020. It was recognized by World Health Organization that child abuse, or goes by another term called child maltreatment, will potentially lead to further crippling effect to development of overall well-being.
The following are the 4 types of child abuse:
The intentional use of physical force to harm and inflict pain, including hitting, throwing, shaking, biting, burning, choking and poisoning.
Any act that forces or coerces a child to involve in sexual activity and exploitation. It also includes sexual activity without having the child being touched, such as forcing and watches a child to undress himself/herself, and flashing genital part.
Behaviours intended to humiliate, diminish self-worth, and to let the child feel inadequate and unloved. These could come in the form of verbal abuse or physical actions, such as yelling, emotional blackmail, locking and isolating them from the people outside.
It occurs when the caregiver failed to provide the basic physical and emotional need of the child. It includes housing, food, medical care, clothing, hygiene, education, and supervision.
Everyday there is only helplessness and powerless under the place of unseen
Childhood is supposed to be the time for them to experiment with all kind of fun, wondering questions for sky and trees, and most importantly, having people to tell them it is safe to be around, without fear of being hurt and shamed. But in reality, for some of them, being a child is the most dreadful thing on earth, as everyday there is only helplessness and powerless under the place of unseen. As a child, there is no way for them to know what is right or wrong, or what did they do to deserve bad things happening around. They believe in every word told by the adults, which only drives them to being more eager to obey and submit to the authority. Every hatred or humiliation channelled to them, they will absorbed it as it is, and in the end a lot of them become their own perpetrator that started shaming and punishing themselves even before others are out to get them, in a way to feel like they are under controlled. There is no end for how bad this experience could turn out for one to endure such horrible stuff when they were young, so the above just said how important it is for us to really reflect on topics of child abuse when things just seem to not getting better.
A lot of time child abuse happens due to negative or stressful life circumstances, such as parents’ mental disorder, postpartum depression, unpleasant upbringing, marriage conflict, substance abuse, poverty, and so on. Although it does not serve as an excuse to recognize them as the reason for one to commit this crime, however these provides an insight for one to understand and seek help before it is too late.
Scars and trauma caused by all sorts of abuse should never be normalized, no matter if it could be visibly seen or not.
Scars and trauma caused by all sorts of abuse should never be normalized, no matter if it could be visibly seen or not, including emotional abuse and neglect that depicts ill-treatment, gaslighting or manipulation. A quote online that says ‘you don’t have to hit to hurt’, shows how emotional abuse and neglect are just as harmful as physical abuse, and parents could just be the first bully of their children. Along with physical and sexual abuse, all of these could cast a long-term damage for the young victims both mentally and physically, even though the incidents no longer take place in the current moment. Possible risks that could occur for the child abuse survivor include bullying, drug and alcohol misuse, domestic violence in later age, and psychological disorders, including Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD, & C-PTSD), depression, anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). These come as the consequences when a child could no longer bear the overwhelming distress due to the abuse and found themselves in a state of shattered shell.
Lastly, I would like to share another powerful quote from the online community, which says ‘Be who you needed when you were younger’, no matter it is a kind, fun, strong, ‘not always angry’, or forgiving person. Protect their childhood and allow them to laugh and bloom, as that is the least we could do to let them have what they deserve.
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