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Discussion Forums
Abuse: Physical, Sexual and Verbal

All forms of abuse are unfortunately much more common than people would like to believe. I wish the new "Homeland Security" forces would pay more attention to what I think of as "intimate terrorism," the kind of personal terrorism that takes place in homes across the nation. I've seen so very many lives destroyed by bullies who misuse the power they have: the power of being an adult to a child, the power of money, pure physical power, the power of being older and knowing more than someone else . . .

It infuriates me that soldiers can be praised and given medals for getting wounded, while we give only shame and turned heads to small children who endure much more horrendous wounds utterly alone, with the enemy being someone who's supposed to love and protect them. And yet they survive, at least some of them. Talk about bravery. Government money is being taken away from all the agencies that are supposed to protect and help this country's kids, and then it's funneled into unnecessary wars. You can call me whatever you want, but I'll still say that we've got our priorities screwed up.

Recently, I went to a poetry reading about domestic abuse and I handed out my own "purple hearts" to people there. Here's what they said: "This Purple Heart is awarded to you as testimony to your courageous survival, despite grievous wounds sustained in the service of all women and children of the Home Front Wars." If you're one of the many unrecognized survivors of the "Home Front Wars"—a woman, a child, or a man who was an abused child—please give yourself a purple heart. You deserve one.

Lots of times you don't even recognize that you're in abusive situations because you've been in them so long that you just think it's normal, or that you deserve it. (Maybe the hardest ones to recognize are emotional and verbal abuse.) Please read about the different kinds of abuse, talk with others on the discussion board, and if you know you're being abused, tell someone you can trust. Maybe you recognize that you're being abused but you're afraid of what will happen to your family or you're afraid for your life. I know it's a very difficult situation to be in and that it can get very complicated, and that you doubt yourself sometimes, but try to get support and guidance wherever you can find it. Start here if nowhere else. Check out the links. There is some help available. Even trained and experienced soldiers don't expect to do things alone.

—Gail

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE
RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline (available 24/7): 1-800-656-HOPE




Facts & Stats

In 2001, approximately 1,300 children died of abuse or neglect in the US.

In 2001, the average time from the start of a Child Protection Services investigation to provision of service was 48 days.

Between one in three and one in four girls is sexually assaulted by the age of 18.

Between one in six and one in seven boys is sexually assaulted by the age of 18.

34% of child sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by family members.

59% of child sexual abuse cases are perpetrated by people known and trusted by the family.

Nearly a third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.

While women are less likely than men to be victims of violent crime overall, women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner. 92% of all domestic violence crimes are committed by men against women.

One in four teen girls will be in abusive relationships, but only 5% of them will reach out for help.

- above info from National Domestic Violence Hotline, Human Health Services, and Oprah ;-)


Four Types of Child Abuse

Are you being/were you abused growing up? Check out the definitions below.

There are four major types of maltreatment: physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. While State definitions may vary, operational definitions include the following:

Physical Abuse is characterized by the infliction of physical injury as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, burning, shaking or otherwise harming a child. The parent or caretaker may not have intended to hurt the child; rather, the injury may have resulted from over-discipline or physical punishment.

Child Neglect is characterized by failure to provide for the child's basic needs. Neglect can be physical, educational, or emotional. Physical neglect includes refusal of, or delay in, seeking health care; abandonment; expulsion from the home or refusal to allow a runaway to return home; and inadequate supervision. Educational neglect includes the allowance of chronic truancy, failure to enroll a child of mandatory school age in school, and failure to attend to a special educational need. Emotional neglect includes such actions as marked inattention to the child's needs for affection; refusal of or failure to provide needed psychological care; spouse abuse in the child's presence; and permission of drug or alcohol use by the child. The assessment of child neglect requires consideration of cultural values and standards of care as well as recognition that the failure to provide the necessities of life may be related to poverty.

Sexual Abuse includes fondling a child's genitals, intercourse, incest, rape, sodomy, exhibitionism, and commercial exploitation through prostitution or the production of pornographic materials. Many experts believe that sexual abuse is the most under-reported form of child maltreatment because of the secrecy or "conspiracy of silence" that so often characterizes these cases.

Emotional Abuse (psychological/verbal abuse/mental injury) includes acts or omissions by the parents or other caregivers that have caused, or could cause, serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional, or mental disorders. In some cases of emotional abuse, the acts of parents or other caregivers alone, without any harm evident in the child's behavior or condition, are sufficient to warrant child protective services (CPS) intervention. For example, the parents/caregivers may use extreme or bizarre forms of punishment, such as confinement of a child in a dark closet. Less severe acts, such as habitual scapegoating, belittling, or rejecting treatment, are often difficult to prove and, therefore, CPS may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm to the child.

Although any of the forms of child maltreatment may be found separately, they often occur in combination. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.

- from the National Clearing House on Child Abuse and Neglect (US Dept. of Health and Human Services)