Today is Blog Catalog’s Blogging for a Great Cause Challenge: Bloggers Against Abuse.
None of my family or close friends has ever been the victim of spousal or child abuse – at least if anyone close to me has been abused, I haven’t known about it. Yet I am passionate about stopping violence against women and children and will always regret not recognizing probable abuse when I encountered it.
Way back in the late ’60s or early ’70s, I was teaching a third grade Sunday School class. The church we attended was near a military installation, and most of the parishioners were military families.
One Sunday morning, I had a cup of coffee sitting on the table in front of me. A little boy knocked the cup over, and I reached out to catch it. The child recoiled when I reached for the cup. At the time, I thought it was a strange reaction, but I just assumed he was afraid the coffee would spill on him. I didn’t catch the cup in time, and hot coffee spilled on my dress. Fortunately, it didn’t touch me, so the only damage done was a coffee stain. But the child kept apologizing over and over. I tried to reassure him I wasn’t hurt, and I told him I was the one at fault for having a hot cup of coffee on a low table in a room full of children. His insistence on continuing to apologize mystified me.
I don’t know if I’d ever heard of child abuse at the time. If I had, it was some abstract concept that I didn’t relate to real life. I never forgot the little boy’s reaction – the jerk back, the fear in his eyes, and his excessive apologies. Years later, when I learned more about abuse, I realized that he had expected me to hit him. I’ve always regretted that I didn’t recognize his reaction as a sign of abuse – were there more signs I missed?
I’ve tried to be more alert since I’ve learned more about abuse. I’ve never had a similar experience, but if I did, I would recognize the signs and take action. If it happened at church, I would most likely meet with the priest to advise him of what I’d seen so he could provide counseling. If that didn’t achieve results, I would report the situation to the authorities. My sister is a social worker, and she has reported abuse of the elderly several times at nursing homes where she has worked. She jeopardizes her job by doing so because the management of the nursing home usually wants to take care of the problem themselves without getting the authorities involved. But anyone who suspects abuse is both morally and legally obligated to report it.
False reports can be devastating. That I know from family experience. I’ve seen the mother of a handicapped child investigated for child abuse because she insisted on teaching her daughter to be as independent as possible. A neighbor thought it was cruel to make a child in a wheelchair do small household chores and reported that the child was being abused. The investigation exonerated the family, but only after they were observed for some period of time. Even so, I think it is better for an innocent family to be investigated than for suspected abuse to go unreported.
The subject of abuse intrigued me so much I made it an integral part of the plot of my soon-to-be-published novel, Dream or Destiny. In my research, I learned that a high percentage of children who are abused tend to become abusers themselves. The cycle can last for generations. Women who are abused in one relationship often go on to other abusive relationships because they have come to believe they deserve the abuse.
Abuse knows no racial, ethnic, educational, religious, or economic barriers. If I’d even heard of abuse back in that third-grade Sunday School room, I would never have thought that child could be abused. His father was a military officer, and both of his parents were active in the church and were always pleasant in public.
Although far more men abuse women and children, some women do abuse their husbands, and some mothers abuse – even kill – their children.
In Dream or Destiny, the abuse victims finally escape from their abuse and break out of the cycle. I pray that for every victim of domestic violence around the world.
St. Paul says in Ephesians 25, 28-29:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.
And in Colossians 3:21:
Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
Spouses are to love and care for each other. Parents are to love and nurture their children. Spousal and child abuse can cause serious physical and emotional damages and destroy the bond of love and care that is critical to healthy family life.
[tags]domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, Blog Catalog’s Blogging for a Great Cause, Bloggers Against Abuse[/tags]