CHild Abuse

Child Abuse. Imagine a child you know, picture them in your mind. Now stop and rewind. Remember all the stories that they told you? How they begged for a voice to represent them? How you dismissed their claims as untrue, based merely on childish fabrications ? You were very wrong, so very wrong. That child is a teenager now, traumatised by the events of her past. She struggles to overcome her phobias, has paranoia, thinks that everyone is out to get her and why is this? Because nobody listened, because she was forced to believe that it was all make- believe ( she had a vivid imagination that one!) . If only she knew that there are people out there who would listen, a voice for the voiceless, muted by hatred and abuse.

Now onto the facts , abuse can be split into three different types : Physical, Emotional and Sexual. Physical abuse is characterized by violence i.e. being hit, emotional abuse can be anything from blackmail to bullying and sexual abuse is categorized under forceful sexual behaviour i.e. rape. Approximately 1 in 20 children have been abused with a shocking 1 in 10 cases going unreported. Not only is this wrong but it also means that abused children are more subject to mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Post Traumatic disorder is a condition of persistent mental and emotional stress occurring as a result of injury or severe psychological shock, typically involving disturbance of sleep and constant vivid recall of the experience, with dulled responses to others and to the outside world. A particularly significant attribute of PTSD is ‘ Re-experiencing or reliving traumatic moments in the past’. Symptoms of re-experiencing include: intrusive memories, nightmares, flashbacks, exaggerated reactions to reminders of the event, and re-experiencing physical symptoms when the body ‘remembers’). Whilst PTSD is curable- and for the most part short term- if the child is not given the right treatment, the impact will stay forever. Therefore it is essential for the individual to be well informed about the  symptoms of  PTSD and how and why it occurs.

In order to exemplify the negative influence of PTSD on both the child and the parents/guardians, I have created an imaginary scenario, exhibiting Child A. Child A was sexually, physically and emotionally abused for 5 years. Now it is 5 years later and newly adopted, she struggles to come to terms with the traumatic events she had faced previously. Her adoptive parents are also struggling to cope with her behavioural and mental health issues. Lately she has been lashing out, almost as though she is controlled by an outer force. And so our story begins, a young child haunted by her demons, unable to relinquish them from her mind and body. Child A is in school , surrounded by peers, laughing without a care in the world. They see her, isolated from the rest and unable to communicate. There is pity in their eyes, a wave of compassion engulfs her like a swarm of bees. She winces inwardly… I don’t want your pity, leave me be. She shakes with anger, convulsing as though she was possessed. Suddenly the look in their eyes is no longer that of compassion. Instead , a darker emotion takes it’s place, the emotion of fear. They look anxiously at the teacher, begging to escape. The teacher sees nothing, merely a sea of young students eager to learn. However the reality is vastly different. Child A is consumed by demons of her past, they whisper in her ear, condemning her to a lifetime of misery. What is it that they whisper? Utterances that cannot be repeated and words that tell a tale of manipulation and benevolence. They reduce her to puppet form, her movements are mechanical, her words are rehearsed. She turns to her peers, a gruesome smile upon her face, her features distorted. She whispers what the demons tell her to say , her words dripped with posion. The children gasp, sickened to their stomachs ” Your sick” they cry. She says nothing, suddenly she has power and is no longer a victim. She torments her  peers, relishing the naked fear in their expressions; feeding hungrily on their torment. Later that night, the demons take over again and now she is the victim- she relives the past. And so our story concludes, Child A is an adult now, an empty shell of her former self. Unable to relinquish the demons that consumed her, she lives in a solitary cell, a psychiatric ward her home. She was diagnosed with severe mental health issues, an extended form of PTSD, that had arisen because she had not  been given help.

Whilst this story was given a great deal of creative licence, it demonstrated how controlling PTSD can be. As a result it is essential that all individuals who have encountered trauma, are aware of the negative effects that can take place. Whilst it may be extreme to suggest PTSD can lead to extended mental health issues , it is also plausible to suggest it may occur, if not treated. Below is a list of specialists to turn to if you or someone you know is suffering from PTSD.

  •  A psychologist – an expert in how the mind works
  • A community psychiatric nurse – a nurse who specialises in mental healthcare
  • A psychiatrist – a mental health specialist who diagnoses and treats mental health conditions