24 January 2011

Last Chapter of Heart of a Survivor pt 3

These warning signs were compiled from Child Help, The National Children's Advocacy Center, and Kidscape. “The possibility of abuse should be investigated if a child shows a number of these symptoms, or any of them to a marked degree”1

Emotional Abuse:
  • Excessively withdrawn, fearful, or anxious about doing something wrong
  • Passive and aggressive - behavioral extremes
  • Doesn’t seem to be attached to the parent or caregiver
  • Habit disorder (sucking, rocking, biting, hair twisting, self-mutilation)
  • Sudden speech disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Antisocial, destructive
  • Neurotic traits (sleep disorders, inhibition of play)
  • Delinquent behavior (especially adolescents)
  • Physical, mental and emotional development lags
  • Continual self-depreciation ('I'm stupid, ugly, worthless, etc')
  • Overreaction to mistakes
  • Extreme fear of any new situation

Physical Abuse:
  • Self destructive
  • Fear of physical contact - shrinking back if touched
  • Is always watchful and “on alert,” as if waiting for something bad to happen.
  • Withdrawn and/or aggressive - behavioral extremes
  • Arrives at school early or stays late as if afraid to be at home
  • Chronic runaway (adolescents)
  • Complains of soreness or moves uncomfortably
  • Wears clothing inappropriate to weather, to cover body
  • Bizarre explanation of injuries
  • Aggression towards others
  • Wary of adult contact
  • Self-destructive tendencies
  • Aggression towards others
  • Fear of medical help or examination
  • Unexplained bruises (in various stages of healing)
  • Unexplained burns, especially cigarette burns or immersion burns
  • Unexplained fractures, lacerations or abrasions
  • Swollen areas
  • Evidence of delayed or inappropriate treatment for injuries

Sexual Abuse:
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Pain, swelling or itching in genital area
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Bruises or bleeding in genital area
  • Venereal disease
  • Frequent urinary or yeast infections
  • Excessive seductiveness
  • Role reversal, overly concerned for siblings
  • Massive weight change
  • Suicide attempts (especially adolescents)
  • Inappropriate sex play or premature understanding of sex
  • Threatened by physical contact, closeness
  • Being overly affectionate in a sexual way inappropriate to the child's age
  • Being isolated or withdrawn
  • Starting to wet again, day or night/nightmares
  • Lack of trust or fear of someone they know well
  • Become worried about clothing being removed
  • Suddenly drawing sexually explicit pictures
  • Trying to be 'ultra-good' or perfect; overreacting to criticism

I'm positive that if someone at the school or home had been observant to the warning signs of abuse that I was displaying it could have been stopped. In Kindergarten I was withdrawn and anxious about doing something wrong and hated new situations (I still do). I remember having bedwetting and crying-for-no-reason issues in the 2nd grade. I constantly chewed on erasers, pencils and pens and I was always twitchy. I despised making mistakes (still do) and self-depreciation was/is one of my favorite things. 

I avoided personal hygiene if at all possible in hopes it would make me repulsive to Mick. I couldn't go to bed unless Barbie and Ken were naked in their bed. By the 4th grade I was withdrawn, bouncing back and forth between the extreme ends of passive and aggressive, contemplating suicide and picking at my skin. I was always on alert, I definitely hated going home and made that clear, I developed a stutter when I was pushed to a certain point of pissed, I had issues with sleep that were not associated with just being a teenager, I loved my liquor, I had a good knowledge of sex before I was even raped by Ben, I hated people being close to me, and I would cry or throw tantrums over stupid things, like wanting to be an Indian in the Kindergarten Thanksgiving festivities. That’s just falling through the cracks at school. Everyone in the family knew Mom was abusing me emotionally and physically and that Dad was emotionally abusive when he was bothered to have anything to do with me.

If my family, the neighbors, the teachers… if anyone had just grown the balls to follow their instincts my life could have been completely different and less chaotic. If you think someone is being abused, do the ethical thing: call it in and let the authorities sort it out. 

If you are being abused yourself, muster the courage take control of your life, escape the abuse and tell somebody. Let your inner warrior come out and protect you.

Places of Interest and Relevance:
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline:
1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)
www.childhelp.org

Help for child sexual abuse:
1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368) Stop It Now
www.stopitnow.org

1-800-656-HOPE Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)
www.rainn.org

The National Children's Advocacy Center
www.nationalcac.org/

Kidscape
http://www.kidscape.org.uk

American Psychological Association
www.apa.org/pubs/info/brochures/sex-abuse.aspx

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