Surviving Secrets: The Experience of Abuse for the Child, the Adult, and the Helper

Surviving Secrets: The Experience of Abuse for the Child, the Adult, and the Helper

Surviving Secrets: The Experience of Abuse for the Child, the Adult, and the Helper

Surviving Secrets: The Experience of Abuse for the Child, the Adult, and the Helper

Excerpt

Abuse takes many forms and can involve just one or a combination of these. This book encompasses the whole range of abuse: the individuals who speak through it have been physically, psychologically and sexually abused. Many have suffered more than one form of abuse, and many have been abused by more than one person. This is not an unusual pattern: abuse often comes from more than one source.

Children who have been abused do not have high expectations of others. They do not expect help. They often do not have a sense of indignation when they are ill-treated. They do not feel or impart positive messages about themselves. They cannot easily be self-protective. It is essential to recognize and acknowledge that abuse of a child leads to huge developmental damage which has ongoing implications. The effects do not simply disappear or evaporate as the child reaches adulthood. As later chapters demonstrate, the ripples from abuse spread far and wide into the adult’s world, the adult’s experience and the adult’s relationships. When we talk about a child who has been abused, we are also talking about a person who grows up carrying those experiences inside. We need to recognize that:

Child abuse is not simply less than optimal child rearing. It is a pattern of behaviour that drastically violates both moral and scientific norms concerning child care.

(Gabarino and Gilliam 1980:70–1) . . .

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