You always know when you are in the presence of someone experiencing deep and profound pain. There is an essence, an energy, which tells us to be aware or beware. That essence can be pain’s sharp edge. A friend once suggested to me that pain seeks out pain. It had been her experience that people who had hurt her deliberately did so simply because they did not want to be painfully alone.
This kind of hurtful pain can often be traced back to the experiences of childhood, when innocence was scraped for the emotional retribution of pain itself. June 10 is being set aside as Abused Women and Children’s Awareness Day with the hope of bringing education and information to the forefront of people’s consciousness. Sometimes awareness is self-awareness, not just social awareness.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, self-awareness is critical. Nearly 30% of those abused become abusers themselves. (Long – Term Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006. Retrieved from http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/long_term_consequences.cfm) Growing up with emotional, physical, mental and/or spiritual abuse internalizes pain and is often repeated as the victim turns perpetrator.
There are no absolutes in life and many people beat the odds of their early childhood experiences. However, statistics can be a measuring device to understand the likelihood of repetitive behaviors. The statistics regarding abuse used against women and children are staggering and heartbreaking.
Children (both male and female) http://www.americanhumane.org/children/stop-child-abuse/fact-sheets/child-abuse-and-neglect-statistics.html
- 79.4% of perpetrators are parents.
- Approximately 40% of child victims were maltreated by their mothers acting alone
- 18.3 percent were maltreated by their fathers acting alone
- 17.3 percent were abused by both parents (USDHHS, 2007)
- There are 3.3 million reports of child abuse in the US
- Approximately 80% of abused children who die are under the age of four
For additional information on child abuse please visit www.childhelp.com.
- An estimated 1.3 million women are victimized with physical assault by domestic partners yearly
- 1 in 3 women have been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused during her lifetime
- On average, more than 3 women a day are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends
- About 1 in 5 women abused never seek medical attention for their injuries
So pain matters; personal pain matters. It matters enough to pay attention to how it feels, how it motivates, and how it shapes our day-in, day-out experiences. It matters if you were or are being abused.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, adverse childhood experiences (ACE) can also result in a laundry list of self-inflicted abuse. The list is long and exhaustive and can include alcoholism or alcohol abuse, depression, illicit drug use, risk for intimate partner violence, self-inflicted pain such as cutting and suicide attempts. Self-destruction is often seen as a way to escape the pain. Of course, this is an untrue perception. Self-destruction leaves a trail of pain that touches and scars families, friends and society itself. (http://www.cdc.gov/ace/findings.htm.)
Learning About Abuse
Pain is a subjective experience and often leads to an inability to recognize its presence. Childhood abuse leaves us numb in our ability to measure abuse. If you or someone you love is subjected to abuse, there is a simple test you can take to determine your abuse factor. Please visit http://www.acestudy.org/ace_score to access this simple on point questionnaire of ten questions.
There is help and healing available if your pain is overwhelming. It is possible to be free of the effects of personal abuse and live a happy and fulfilling life. Humanity’s survival depends upon individual courage. Yes, it takes courage to act upon abuse. It takes courage to reach out. But beneath the fear, we all have that kind of courage. It is there and real and needed.
Validation confirms our reality and gives us permission to act. The following list of resources is provided to guide you to your answers.
For those living in the San Diego Area
The Chadwick Center at www.chadwickcenter.org. The Chadwick Center is one of the largest hospital based child advocacy and trauma treatment centers in the nation. The staff uses a multidisciplinary approach in its work with child abuse and family violence. If you are in need of help please contact them at (858) 966-4011; E-mail: ChadwickCenter@rchsd.org
You can also contact the Family Justice Center at http://www.sandiego.gov/sandiegofamilyjusticecenter/. They warn that those reaching out to them to find and use a computer from a safe location. If you are in danger call 911.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network http://www.nctsn.org was established to improve access for professionals and individuals dealing with traumatized children. For specific information on physical abuse, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and treatment please visit their resource page at http://www.nctsn.org/resources/audiences/parents-caregivers/what-is-cts
For effective therapy to release the past please visit http://www.emdr.com/find-a-clinician.html. This site will introduce you to EMDR Therapy and answer any questions you may have regarding its application and effectiveness.
Women With a Voice: Learning to communicate, safely and affirmatively to create the life you long to live (www.candaceconradi.com/women-with-a-voice)