You can help stop child abuse, but… Would you take action if you suspected a child was being abused?

With my new release, My Sore Hush-a-Bye, I go back to a theme that is very emotional to me: child abuse.

I think it’s absolutely important to talk about it. Abuse is, often, a silent violence. It can go on for years and years, with the abused person hiding, becoming more and more withdrawn, sad, and closing off to the world. It takes a lot of courage to break the cycle. Courage that a child, on his or her own most times doesn’t have.

Of all forms of abuse, child abuse is the worst. Because children cannot help themselves. They are supposed to be cared by others, nothing else. Children are vulnerable, fragile, and they need guidance, help, and love.

A child that grows up in a violent, abusive environment is very likely to become an adult with low self-esteem and respect issues (self or for others), and they’ll often be someone who enters into abusive relationships throughout their lives. They become a magnet to bad people, or simply go after them to repeat the pattern they learned all their lives.

Worst of all, in some cases, this child can repeat the behavior she or he had loathed so much during childhood, without even realizing it. The abused, more often than not, becomes an abuser. And the story never ends.

I know how it is, believe me. Because I’ve been there.

I don’t want to get into much detail, since it is now something that I choose to believe as foundational to my strength, but I was abused in several forms during my early years.

 The fact is that I survived, and was able to transform the dark matter that filled my childhood into a great cause that I defend relentlessly. I now want to write about child abuse cases (fictional, but unfortunately inspired on some levels in real experiences—mine or from others that I read/heard about) in the hope that my stories might help people to reflect about the theme. That one day, in the future, child abuse will happen only in fiction.

Child abuse happens a lot. It could be happening right next to you. Would you know how to recognize the signs if it were the case? And, a trickier and more important question:

 Would you take action if you suspected a child was being abused?

Because no one did it for me. And I’m pretty sure people knew what was happening. Maybe not all of it, but a good part of it. Enough to make them aware, to make them suspicious. (Although there were people who really had no idea of the worst part and tried their best to help me with the most obvious problem…)

 So…would you?

It’s important to learn to recognize the signs, and especially, to understand that a single sign is not proof of abuse. A closer look, though, can help you to see if the signs are repeated or happening in combination—which can be an indication that something is not quite right.

There’s a very useful list of signs to look for on this great site: Kidscape. Also on HelpGuide.org. Please visit and read them all. They also tell you how you can help.

Because an abused child will most likely NOT talk.

That’s right: the child doesn’t tell anyone about the abuse in most cases. They feel it’s their fault. They feel ashamed of what happened. They are convinced by the abuser not to talk. They feel they’re not worth help. They feel they deserve the abuse. They don’t know what to do, because the abuser is someone they love. Sometimes, they don’t even know for sure if it’s abuse or if life is like that for every child.

That’s why it is so important to be alert. To help and to protect our children. They need it.

And the future will be a much brighter one if we take care of our children.

To break the cycle.

To.Stop.Child.Abuse!

So, I’ll ask again…would you help? Will you?

EDIT- 11.01: People who know me may be a little shocked by this revelation, including some very close people who can even feel somehow betrayed by my post. Please understand that this is my story, and I decided it was time to share.

Because it can help, and because it is now over to me. It’s so in the past, so detached from the person I am now that I can talk. It is an eternal scar, but it doesn’t hurt anymore. Better saying- it hurts, but doesn’t throb.

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9 responses to “You can help stop child abuse, but… Would you take action if you suspected a child was being abused?

  1. It saddens me that the abuser often dies before an abused child (now an adult) is able to admit the abuse to anyone else. I don’t know whether it’s the shame about what happened to them as children, the fear of the threats made still coming true or whether they feel they actually deserved it but I do know that few abused children reach adulthood without realising what’s happened to them and without suffering some kind of reaction to it. Maybe an inability to form relationships, maybe depression so deep there are suicides / attempts or maybe in some cases it turns to violence.
    Yours was a well written piece Renata which unfortunately came not just from the heart but was forged from experience. I’m sorry on behalf of all adults who didn’t help you when you needed it most. Some people go into a form of denial that it could possibly happen in their neighbourhood or in their family but usually someone somewhere guesses or suspects and for the sake of all children it must be reported. If you’re wrong the worst you can do is embarrass an adult who should maybe have been taking action to sort out a problem their child has, but in the best case you may be taking a child out of the most evil childhood possible.
    I’m glad you were strong enough to survive my friend and hope hat maybe you also got some justice.
    Hugs. xx

    • Thanks, as usual, for your kind words, David.

      Denial is indeed a big part of the problem. No one wants to have to deal with this kind of decision (to report or not) and they also, as you said, want to believe it’s not happening. They think they’re imagining things, overreacting or exaggerating.

      It may be (hopefully, it will be) the case, but what if it’s not? What if that child looked at you as hope, and you decided it was nothing? Can you live with the doubt?

      Better an embarrassing moment like you said than to let the horror perpetuate.

      Take this example. I live in a street where there’s a school. Teenagers up and down all day and evening.You know teens; they don’t talk, they scream. They like to scream bloody murder for no reason, all the time. But I always go check at the window to see if it really isn’t someone in danger this time. I prefer to look like a foul every time checking and seeing friends hanging out, but knowing that if it was something, I’d be there to help.

      As for justice…well, I believe in God’s justice. I have no contact whatsoever with any of my abusers for years, and truly don’t know how they are now. And I really don’t want to know. Let God take care of them, so I don’t have to even face them anymore ever again…

      Thank you.

  2. I would like to think I would, but one honestly doesn’t know what they’d do until faced with the situation. I would very much like to read your story.

    • Thank you so much for your comment and kind words.
      I agree with you, it’s easy to say before the situation is in front of you. One can only hope to do the right thing if the necessity presents itself…

    • Thank you so much for commenting, Denise. I hope more and more people do like you. That’s what we need to stop it!

      Also, many thanks for reblogging my post. Let’s spread the word!!

  3. I’d not only take action, if my suspicions were confirmed I’d break the law and put myself in harm’s way if I had to in order to protect a child. I probably couldn’t help myself. It’s a trigger.

    I’ve made peace with my father for my mother’s sake now that he’s old and frail, but the rage that almost ruined my life is still there.

    Luckily it’s not what happens to you but how you choose to respond to it that determines destiny.

    • Hi Darryl, thank you so much for commenting.

      I’m sorry to hear your story, and I understand your feeling, I’ve been there for many years. I don’t know if it was aging that changed me or if it was just a choice, but I really don’t want to live in anger.
      If I start thinking too much about it, of course it still boils inside of me, and it’s easy to be carried on by the trigger, as you said… However, I choose to see the scars as the marks of my survival, not as wounds of defeat. I feel sorry for that little girl I was, and want to help her in some way, but the best I can do now is help the woman she became.

      But that’s what works for me, each one knows how to deal with their past. I hope you find the best way to deal with yours and be happy.

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