April is Child Abuse Prevention Month
Long story, short; What happened to me was never addressed (until my early-mid twenties). No one ever reached out. I never got help, even once mental health treatment had began. It has only been the last 6 years or so that my mental health providers realized (even though I had already been diagnosed with PTSD), the abuse I suffered was as much a part of my struggle as living with my existing buddies, Bipolar 1 Disorder and Anxiety Disorder(s).
Fast forward to the last year and, I finally found a therapist that listened to everything I was saying, and explaining. Since, we have realized some of my symptoms previously blamed on Bipolar 1 Disorder, are actually symptoms of PTSD, and more importantly, Dissociative Disorder. It is pretty scary to find out at 36 years of age that you are actually even "crazier" than previously thought... made my year... not. But, it is what it is, and we are working our butts off to make the best of the journey, and recovery.
(Side Bar: It is o.k. for me to call me crazy, it is not o.k. for others to do so. (lol) People with mental illness are not crazy. ...Well most of us aren't. But sometimes it is the most effective word for conveying a message. Please remember how hurtful it is for you to call those with mental illness, "crazy." Not all of us have a sense of humor.. (lol))
This is why I can definitively say, Awareness & Prevention are Extremely important!
I urge everyone to visit Prevent Child Abuse America. Their mission is to prevent childhood abuse and neglect; they provide information, resources, support, and they are, "One of the two best charities for children in the nation." (Consumer Report). Their mission and accomplishments are inspiring.
From the Prevent Child Abuse American Website; Some signs of abuse (and neglect) in Children:
- Shows sudden changes in Behavior or school Performance;
- Unexplained Bruises and Injuries;
- Has learning problems that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes;
- Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen;
- Scares easily;
- Frequent, unexplained absences;
- Doesn't like to be touched and/or make eye contact;
- Physically acts out;
- Seems frightened of the parents, or (an)other adults, protests or cries when it is time to go home from school, or (if not parental abuse) when they have to see or be around their abusers/bullies;
- Shrinks at the approach of adults;
- Is overly compliant, an overachiever, or too responsible; or
- Comes to school early, stays late, and does not want to go home.
For More Signs and Information follow this link: Recognizing of Abuse
If you suspect a child is being abused, please reach out to them, and to their parents.
Children often feel safer talking to an adult they trust rather than telling their parents about abuse - especially if it is happening in the home. Many children feel guilty, to blame, ashamed, and worse. Be kind, be compassionate, but most of all, be there.
☛ Keep in mind, many of the signs of abuse can also be attributed to Mental Illness as they share similar signs/symptoms. I always recommend talking to a (Mental) Health Professional to determine if there is abuse, and/or a Mood or Behavioral Disorder. Self diagnosis is never a good idea.
*Because children are our future…
Our most basic obligation is to support the healthy development of our nation’s children. The great childhoods we want for our children require a loving and supporting environment. Children who are raised in supportive and stable environments are more academically and financially successful, and great childhoods help children grow into productive, contributing adults who help their community, and our country, be prosperous and competitive in the global economy.
*Because the costs are too high…
When we invest in healthy child development, we are investing in community and economic development. Unfortunately, children are sometimes exposed to extreme and sustained stress like child abuse and neglect, which can undermine a child’s development. Research conducted by Prevent Child Abuse America estimates that implementing effective policies and strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect can save taxpayers $80 billion per year. The cost of not doing this is measured in increased costs for foster care services, hospitalization, mental health treatment and law enforcement, as well as loss of individual productivity and expenditures related to chronic health problems, special education and the justice system.
* (denotes) from Prevent Child Abuse America Website