Monday, March 31, 2008

Break the Silence - child abuse

I attended a meeting yesterday, an unsettling one. It was unsettling because I found that although I thought I was fairly well informed on the subject of child abuse, I, in fact, was woefully uneducated on the scope of the problem.

Four children per day die from child abuse in our country. Four! Per Day! Think about it.

Four per day!

Most of those children faced abuse beyond anything we can imagine. It was their parents, their grandparents, an Aunt or an Uncle, or a close, and trusted, friend of the family that abused them in most cases - not a stranger. This abuse was inflicted NOT from a bad person they never knew, but from someone who should have been caring for them, loving them, protecting them. This abuse was inflicted by women nearly as often as by men (47% women, 53% men). Most of these children faced a situation where there was more than one adult aware the abuse was happening. Most of the abuse was done to them while in their own homes - the one place where they should have been safe.

Most of those children faced abuse for longer than we can imagine. Not hours, not days, not weeks, but years before it finally killed them. Some were, in fact, killed - and revived by their abuser, time and again. It was done just to show the child that the abuser, or abusers, could do it. It was done to prove the abuser - or abusers - had dominion over the child's life in every way - down to the next breath the child would take. Many were starved as well as beaten, sexually abused, and/or verbally beaten down; in short, those children lived in terror of their abuser as well has having to endure the pain of the physical abuse.

Most of the abusers have friends, co-workers, and family who cannot bring themselves to believe the person could be an abuser, even when a child is obviously bruised, browbeaten, afraid to be near their abuser, severely malnourished, or evidencing other obvious symptoms.

Most of those children reached out to someone, sometime, and were rebuked, disbelieved, and more often than not, returned to the abuser.

Break the silence when you suspect. Ask. Tell. Stop it.

Is someone going overboard when they decipline a child in a store? Tell them to stop. Tell the child they should are to valuable a person to be being treated in such a manner. It may be the first time the child has had someone stand up for them. It may give them a first glimmer of hope. It may give them the first inkling that they deserve better. It may give them the first opportunity to think that they may be worth something; that they have value. If they hear it often enough, they may gain the courage to take initiative on their own to tell, escape, or ask for help.

Most states (44) will return a sexually abused child to the abuser in order to keep a family "together." The courts would rather keep the family in tact than save the life of that child. The terrified child will suffer untold consequences: can you imagine the reunion that child receives in private? Can you imagine what it is like after the counseling sessions? Can you imagine the horror the child undergoes when handed back to the abuser by someone in authority? Can you imagine their hopelessness?

Speak to your legislatures, speak to your judges; speak out - and speak loudly.

Shout! BREAK THE SILENCE! Save a child!


Go to Break The Silence website:

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