Awareness around child abuse has gradually increased over the years. This can only be a good thing and something that will help to reduce the amount of child abuse that is in the world.
However, in this day and age it may be hard for some people to comprehend why this has gone on for so long and how this kind of behaviour could still be occurring.
So in this article, I want to go into what I believe are some of the reasons as to why child abuse has continued for so long.
In the United Kingdom it wasn’t until 1986 that a twenty four hour counselling service was set up to deal with child abuse. This is a free national helpline for children up to the age of nineteen and is called Childline.
And prior to that in 1979; the great psychologist Alice Miller released her first book on abuse, titled – The Drama Of The Gifted Child. When this book came out and for many years after its release; it was met with all kinds of resistance.
If one wants to really understand abuse and why it happens; her books are the best out there on the subject.
This shows that when it comes to awareness of child abuse, it is a relatively new occurrence. And is surely a reflection of children finally being seen as more than just ‘objects’. For many generations this was how children were often seen by their caregivers and by the society.
A common saying was ‘children should be seen and not heard.’ And this encompasses the attitude that was so prevalent for many generations and one that was passed on from one to the other.
Although the saying may not always have been vocalised in its original form, the emotional consequences were often passed on nevertheless.
And on top of that was the importance of respecting and honouring ones parents. This could be that the mother or father always knows what’s best; or they always know what’s right for example. And then there were sayings like ‘don’t disagree or argue with your parents’.
Freedom Of Speech
So with the rules above and many others that were similar; it didn’t exactly cause the child to feel that they had a right to speak up or stand up for themselves. Even it something didn’t feel right and there was a sense that something was amiss; it would have more often than not had to have been denied and ignored.
This then creates the ideal breeding ground for abuse to be carried out. Because if a child is perceived as an object and as something that has no value; it will not be empathised with or treated with love, care or respect.
And as a way to get a child to do as it was told and to create ‘discipline’; physical punishment was often used. As was mental and emotional forms of punishment. This was partly the result of children being seen as inherently bad and needing to be controlled.
Now, in the current society that we live in, this kind of behaviour is clearly understood as being dysfunctional and most importantly - abusive. And yet for people who were not brought up with this understanding, what we now call childhood abuse would in many cases have been accepted as part of the process of both raising and being a child.
This is not only limited to child abuse, over the ages many other things that were acceptable at one point are no longer accepted. And this is typically due to a shift in people’s awareness.
And so this became what was classed as normal and the way to bring children up. But in order for this to happen, the truth had to remain hidden .This then meant that the child had to deny and repress their suffering and pain.
Through the pain and the trauma not being allowed to surface and the truth of what happened be known to others; the same style of child rearing was destined to be repeated.
This allowed for an avenue for all of the repressed pain that was never acknowledged and process to be released on an innocent child.
As this pain and trauma has never been consciously faced with the help of a therapist or support group for example; it is somewhat inevitable that what the parent had not dealt with from their own childhood would be projected onto the child.
And if the parent experienced abuse as a child and has not dealt with it, it is highly unlikely that they will have the empathy or awareness needed to not abuse their children or anyone else for that matter.
But as it was taboo and still is in some cases, to speak up against ones parents who are often seen as perfect and doing all that they can for their children, regardless of it its true or not; this original pain becomes trapped and locked in to the body.
And whenever one tries to repress and deny something, in order to feel a sense of control, it will ultimately end up controlling them. This is a big reason why child abuse has gone on for so long.
A big part of society is repression and that is a big factor in all forms of violence. So as a society becomes more emotionally aware, what will also likely to follow is a reduction in all forms of abuse. The recent changes in society, in regard to child abuse, are a sign that more people are becoming emotionally aware.
With a greater focus on child abuse, more can be done to make a difference. The internet is an incredibly important element to this process. This is a fairly recent invention and something that has not been around for very long.
Through using this, children can get support that wouldn’t have been there before and realise that although it may be normal in their house; it doesn’t not mean it is right. And then there are people and groups who work tirelessly to put an end to child abuse.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.