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 It can go on for years and years, with the abused person hiding, becoming more and more withdrawn, sad, and closing off to the world.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…)
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.
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.