Can our society help defenseless children who are abused or see abuse at home?
For most cases, silence is golden, and even necessary as a survival tactic since reporting such abuse would mean betraying one's loved one whose livelihood, even emotional security, the young victims are dependent on.
If you have heard of the Stockholm syndrome, where the kidnapped develops a sympathetic (mostly uneven) relationship with the kidnappers, then abuse by loved ones (or witnessing such abuse of loved ones) is akin to such (perverse) relationship where the innocent and abused are beholden to the violent and short fused.
Today's article is entitled "Trauma of seeing abuse at home" and I have personally seen it at home in my long forgotten youth. I recall that the secret to a happy life is to have a positive spirit and a good dose of amnesia. And not every aspect of our past - for some of us that is - is worth a brisk strolling down memory lane. Better let dead dogs lie I say.
But here's my point, and it is in this article which reads, "Parents may not think that their children are affected, but children who are exposed to violence tend to have more depressive symptoms and score higher on the post-traumatic stress disorder scale."
The legacy of abuse and violence is often passed down. The fear of the innocent child in a home where the shadow of abuse blows searingly hot and unpredictably cold usually leave him or her in a constant state of hyper-vigilant and fear. It reports that "apart from depression, some of them develop problematic behaviors like aggression. They may learn to see violence as a solution to problems and grow up to perpetuate violence on their own children."
Lesson? For me, I left my past behind. But there are many young children who are being imprisoned by both their loved ones and their own conscience. While the former needs no elaboration, the latter (imprisoned conscience) is the greater restraint that accounts for many children who would rather just let things slide or develop an alter ego to deal with what they do not understand, or take on a personality of rage as they grow up to defend themselves from ever being vulnerable and hurt again.
A few years ago, I was at the family court and what I saw broke my heart. I saw a mother struggling with her (what seemed like an) autistic child. The small frame mum grabbed the oversized boy, lay him face down on her thighs, and rained punches on his back. When she saw me, she stopped and held back her tears.
This is the curse of poverty and the article reports that "...another study of 1,750 resolved abuse cases showed that children from larger families, as well as those who had unemployed mothers or a low household income, were more likely to be abused again, even though the problem had seemingly been rectified."
Many times, good intention aside, our society falls short and here is what I mean. I read that in many African villages, mothers and daughters would rush to the hospitals to seek medical treatments for wounds inflicted domestically, some were even bleeding from their private parts, but they would never confess to what had happened. Silence is safety to them.
All they wanted was to be treated in the most cursory way possible and they (with young daughters in tow) would then return to the place where the cause of their silent suffering insidiously resides. Of course, Singapore is a law-abiding and law-enforcing country and we can expect less of such fearful behavior here.
But my point is about the vicious poverty cycle, and when money is the issue, the issue will often become the silent victims. Some abuses are even unintentional as the abusers are caught up in his or her own mindless rage and numbing sense of hopelessness. "And when there is a child with medical needs, abuse tended to recur more often in large households with several children, rather than smaller ones," as reported.
Some "defective" children are sadly seen as more of a burden to the family than a blessing.
On a positive note, it is reported that "there are children who have experienced violence but don't turn out negative. They had supportive figures in their lives who were able to set healthy role models."
I guess we must take personal responsibility and break this vicious cycle of violence. As parents, the head of our household, we hold the key and it is time for healing of both our past and for our future (and our children's future). Alas, for some of us, the struggle is indeed formidable. Cheerz