When Gender and Age Meet Abuse 5

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Elaine Tong

There are many stories published on the web or in the papers. People have heard of children being beaten by their guardians or an abusive partner going too far. Some may brush off abuse as something that is the victim’s fault, that if they really wanted it to stop, it would.

However, abuse is affecting people of all ages. News of even babies, who have not even reached the age of one, is not uncommon. Mothers who repetitively beat their newborns because of its nonstop screeching and weeping. How can a child defend itself if not even their parents will? Additional evidence is found with these cases more frequently being caught on camera.

Abuse happens in many different forms, regardless of gender or age, but have people really thought of the long term consequences?

Physical abuse is one that is more easily spotted. Children can be victims of abuse from parents, and lovers can be victims of abuse from significant others, which in this case isn’t a healthy relationship, whether it is physical or mental.  

Effects following physical abuse include chronic pain syndromes, hypertension (high blood pressure), arthritis, panic disorders, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), suicidal behavior, depression, excessive crying, hostility, stuttering, anxiety, clinginess, obsessive behavior, alcohol problems, drug issues, criminal behavior, and others.

Signs of physical abuse can involve a pattern of physical injuries. Everyone, every once in awhile, gains a cut or bruise. But physical abuse can be spotted through repetitive cuts and bruises. Physical abuse can be shown through bruises on scalps, heads, upper arms, thigh, burns, bite marks, fractures, scarring, vomiting, a withdrawn/blank attitude, and others.

Physical abuse is only one type of abuse. Emotional abuse exists as well. Even though many cases of emotional abuse exist, some people continue to believe that abuse is only abuse if it’s violent, but that is absolutely wrong. Emotional abuse is just as serious as physical abuse.

Emotional abuse can involve manipulation and emotional warnings that display a parent’s power and control and the abuse behind it. Emotional abuse can be found in different relationships, whether it be between parents and children or significant others. In the case of lovers, an unhealthy relationship would cause one to feel abnormal, unattractive, and unworthy.

Emotional abuse between lovers can have verbal as well as nonverbal responses, such as eye rolling, disgusted looks, negative tone of voice, slamming of doors or dishes, and more. But because emotional abuse is not as prominent as physical abuse, bystanders usually tend to overlook it.

However, there many consequences from emotional abuse that can result in the same amount of effects as physical abuse. Emotional abuse can cause one to develop mental health problems, eating disorders, self-harm, depression, withdrawal, trust issues, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts, anxiety, anger issues, feelings of self-worth, relationship difficulties, a large reliance on the abuser, sleeping problems, random physical pains, and more.

Effects of emotional abuse grow more serious as the abuse continues and the child transitions through life, such as reliance on alcohol or drug abuse.

It is harder to spot emotional abuse more than physical. To notice signs of emotional abuse in children, victims are usually extremely nervous and worried that they are doing their task wrong. They also seem to be unusually distant from their parents and gain quick affection towards strangers. Victims of emotional abuse commonly have trouble expressing and controlling their feelings and are prone to extreme emotions.

Child neglect is yet another common type of abuse, whereas the parent is unable to fulfill their duty as a guardian. In these cases, the parent may be having physical or mental problems where they become too unwell to care for their child. Because of this, neglected children are unable to get their physical and mental needs met.

In many cases, the woman of an abusive relationship gains more pity. Because of the common idea embedded into society’s minds, they have the concept that only women would suffer an abusive relationship, and not the man. But men can be abused, sometimes more than expected.

Abused men can be told to “be a man” or “suck it up” when expressing their abusive experience. Men may not even realize that they are being abused. Because of their gender, abuse to men is less serious. But every case of abuse is in fact very serious. Gender and age should absolutely not matter when it comes to abuse and its effect.

In fact, one out of seven men older than eighteen in the U.S. experienced physical abuse by a significant other before, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control). Furthermore, one in ten men endured a sexually abusive experience, physical violence, and had been stalked by their intimate. Documents from National Domestic Abuse Hotline identified 13% of their callers as male in 2013.

Though acts of abuse seem outrageous and unforgivable to society, there are usually reasons behind this behavior. Some people endured or witnessed constant abuse from their parents and unconsciously adopted it as a habit of their own. Because of this, those people recognize abuse as a normal action.

Others who’ve endured abusive behavior from their parents can grow up to be abusers themselves, even if they swore that they would never adopt that trait. The reason for this has to do with their limited choices. The choices they saw were to either be the abuser or be the victim. In this case, some grow up to be the abuser in order to protect themselves and to feel a sense of control.

Sometimes acts of abuse go unrecognized by the abuser themselves. Other reasons may involve empathic and antisocial issues or other causes.

If victims or bystanders witness abuse, whether it is physical, emotional, or neglect, it is best to get help, even as an outsider. If one witnesses an abusive parent, it is best for both the child and the parent to report it to Child Protective Services. If one wishes to stay anonymous, the report will stay anonymous in most places. If suspicions are gained without substantial evidence, it is best to still file a report to provide safety for the child if needed.

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