The impact of abuse reaches all levels of a childs emotions. The two most common emotions are confusion and guilt. Confusion is usually the initial reaction of the child. They will usually wonder what is going on or if this is right or wrong. For a young child these types of questions can be a huge burden on their physcological development.
Once the abuse begins the victim experience a tremnedous conflict with their emotions. They feel pleasant due to the attention they are recieving from the parent, as well as the sensual pleasure. On the other hand they experience pain, guilt, and anger for what is being done to them.
The questionif this is right or wrong is the greatest conflict within the childs mind. The abuse feels so wrong yet the abuser insits it’s okay, taking advantage of the childs mistrust and naivety. Below are the thoughts of an abused victim as she thinks back to her abuse and questions her father.
It is an example of this mistrust as well as the confusion which goes through a childs mind.
“Since I was a little ten-year-old child, I had to deceive and hide from the world and my mother that my father took a sexual interest in me. Remember how you taught me that art of deceit? First you put me in a situation that had to be kept a secret then you pledged me to secrecy…As a ten- year-old child, what was I supposed to do? You are an intelligent man-you figure out the options available to a ten-year-old in that position.
” (Dolan 58)
Guilt is also a huge emotional trip for the child. The abused will feel tremendous guilt for a numerous reasons: they feel they did nothing to stop the abuse therefore they are responsible and it should continue, they felt uncomfortable but the abuse was sometimes pleasureable, or
they somehow deserved and/or caused the abuse. A victim will usually feel this way when their self-esteem has diminshed and they have no more answers for what is happenning. The following quote illustrates that guilt makes the child unable to clearly see reality. It also gives insight into the mind of the abused.
“A nine-year-old girl had a nightmare and went to her fathers room for comfort but instead he sexually abused her.
The girl then concluded that she caused the abuse by going to his room. The abuse thereafter continued and she now felt she deserved for it to continue.” (Green 24)
Another major source of guilt comes from the mother. Often when the mother is told about the abuse she will not want to believe the accusations and will blame the child. Other reasons for why the mother may pass guilt are that she may feel weak adn unable to challange the husbands actions and therefore she looks over the husbands faults and looks to the child for blame and/or the mother doesn’t want to lose her husband. She does not want to give up the security provided by her husband and will block out the abuse.
For these reasons much of the child abuse in the United States and else where goes unreported and continues. Reports show that out of the one to two million children abused every year in the United States only about half that number is reported to anyone. Man cases are teh most common cases that go unreported, less than 30%by current estimates. Also about 11,120 of those cases reported have been because of the death of the child. The amount of child abuse is staggering to think about, let alone deal with. By the age of eighteen one in three girls will have been sexually molested and one in six boys will have been molested in that same age.
These include physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse and neglect. (Lesar 419)
One reasons why abuse is on the up rise every year could be that families are undergoing a number of important structural changes. Families are smaller than in the past, with fewer children and sometimes with only one parent; parents have children at a later age; more couples live together without the being married. All these factors could in some way contribute .