Part 5: Treatments and solutions for child abuse

Column courtesy of the Anti Violence Advocates Society in Barriere

Children who have been abused may be taken into care or placed in foster homes.

However, if the abuse is not severe and the authorities believe that it can be resolved within the family with professional help, this is also possible. Treatments for abused children usually involve specialist counselling sessions.

Help for parents who may be being abusive without intending to be so can include parenting classes and financial support where appropriate. Parents who are exhausted by the demands of raising a disabled child, for example, may neglect their other children as a consequence. Cases like this can be sympathetically dealt with, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if this is what’s happening in your family. Respite care may be offered and can make all the difference.

Are you ready to leave?

Maybe you know you’re in deep trouble, maybe you suspect the relationship cannot be saved, but you’re just not quite ready to make the break? That’s OK, don’t be hard on yourself. Even if you have friends and family urging you to “get the hell outta there” or worse, making you feel like a door mat because you haven’t. No one can make the decision to leave but you.

Frankly, leaving immediately without planning may not be in your best interests, to do so would put you at a practical and financial disadvantage. This is not like the movie “Sleeping With The Enemy” where Julia Roberts just runs off with a change of clothing; what about bank accounts, DMV, joint debt or filing divorce, to mention but a few of the important issues you should deal with ?

What you should do right now, whether you have made the decision to leave or not is: put together an emergency plan, get some counselling and start planning the great escape. Don’t worry, just because you plan to leave, doesn’t mean you have to do it right now or at all, you’re just considering your options.

“I hate weekends. Most of my friends talk about the weekend all week at school, like it’s something to look forward to. Not for me, it isn’t. Weekends are when my Dad comes home drunk. Weekends are when he hits my Mum, and if I try to stop him he starts on me. Then I have to go to school wearing long sleeved tops to hide the bruises,”  Ellie, 16.

“My mum’s boyfriend hates me. He says it’s all my fault that my Mum doesn’t have enough time or money to have fun with him all the time. I’m stupid, I’m a bad boy, I just get in the way and make a mess in the house. He says my Mum would be much happier if I wasn’t there. Maybe he’s right. Perhaps it is all my fault,” Sam, 13.

“I’m not allowed to lock my bedroom door at night. That’s because my step dad likes to come and check up on me after Mum has gone to sleep. I lie there, listening, waiting for the sound of his footsteps coming up the stairs, and I feel sick. I don’t like those ‘special cuddles’ he says are a sign that he loves me. It hurts me, and I feel nasty afterwards,” Katie, 12.

“I hate going to school. The other kids won’t go near me, ‘cos they say I smell. My school shirt is always dirty, and my shoes are falling apart. My Mum’s too busy with her boyfriend, she’s never home. And she just doesn’t seem to notice when there isn’t enough to eat in the house,” Peter, 14.

Family abuse can take many different forms. It can be physical and violent, like in Ellie’s case, or verbal and emotional, like in Sam’s situation, or, it can be sexual, like that suffered by Katie.

Then there’s neglect, harder to qualify but often just as damaging. Whatever type of abuse it is, the effects on the family can be devastating.

Teenagers might seem grown up in many ways, but they just aren’t equipped to cope with abuse. Although there’s a lot of help and advice that can be given to teenaged victims of family abuse, far too many kids just don’t know how to get in touch with the people and organizations who can help them, or, they’re too afraid to ask.

Whether you are a teenager or child who is suffering abuse, or a concerned friend or family member who suspects that something might be going on, there are things that you can do. The first step is to know how to recognize abuse: get to know the different types of abuse and the signs it is taking place.

If you have been living in an abusive relationship, you may feel confused and afraid and not know where to turn or what to do. You may have mixed feelings of love and anger; wanting the abuse to end, but not wanting the relationship to be over. If you are in immediate danger call 911. For help contact Interior Health Crisis Line 1-888-353-2273

The Anti Violence Advocates (AVA) Society is collecting cell phones and their chargers to be used by families planning to leave an abusive situation. Drop off your old phones at Armour Mountain Office Services. Thank you to Media Esteem. Kevin has agreed to clear the phones to factory settings.