What if…

At some point in everyone’s life they think “What if?” What if i made a different decision? What if I chose something different? What if this never happened to me? That is my what if.

What if I had never been abused as a child? Would I be a different person? Would my life have turned out differently? What decisions in my life would have been different? Would I have the same outlook on life?

What if I had been raised by my biological parents? I would have been raised in a separated family. I would have lived far away from my grandparents and the rest of my family. I would have been raised like my younger half-sister and I know how she turned out, and it’s nothing like the way I turned out to be. I would not have had the same opportunities with them that I had with my grandparents.

What if I had not been abused as a child? I would not have had the time I did with my grandparents. I would not have had the same opportunities. I would not have turned out to be the woman I am today without their guidance. I would not have gone down the path that I have in my life and saved a life (one that I know of). I would not have a chance to tell others who have been through similar things my story and show them that they can make a beautiful life for themselves as well.

What if I had a great marriage instead of 3 failed ones? I would be happy, but at what costs. I am where I am today because of those marriages. I joined the Army because of the first divorce, which gave me a career and a means to go back to college to pursue something wonderful. The second marriage and divorce showed me that I was worth more than just being a trophy wife. And the final one at this moment is teaching me that I deserve better in life.

Re-victimization is a huge deal for someone who has been sexually abused as a child. I have had 3 instances as an adult of re-victimization. If I had not been sexually abused as a child, those instances may not have happened to me. But then I would not have met the counselor who helped me find my way and the career path I am on to help others.

There is a reason for everything that we go through in life. We may not know the reason at the time, or ever for that matter, but there is a reason. God will never put more on us than we can’t handle. Obviously, I am a strong person with all of the things that have been put on me in my life. I am always reminded of the story of Job. God allowed Satan to take everything from him so that he could prove that he wasn’t as faithful to God as He thought. Job was, even though he lost his family, his livestock, his land and home, and even his health. After it all was done and Job proved he was faithful, God gave him everything back and then some.

There is a reason as to why my life has happened the way it has. Maybe it was for that one life I saved. Maybe it was for a future life I will touch. I may never know, but I do know that I have to continue on this path because it is the one meant for me.

What is Marriage?

Many people believe that marriage is a 2-way street, you give and expect to get back. People say marriage is 50/50, and I would have to disagree. Marriage is a one-way street, you should want to give to your partner and not expect back. Yes, it is nice to receive back, but to expect it because you gave is not how it works. You should give of yourself because you love the person. With marriage being 50/50, I disagree because if you only give 50%, you’re only going to receive 50% back. You should be giving 100% to make a marriage work. Marriage is not easy at all and it takes both parties trying to make it work.

I have been through 3 marriages and looking at the third one being another failure. Within all of them I gave everything, and I mean everything because when I left I had nothing, and I never received anything. I wasn’t looking to receive anything, but I would have at least chosen to be respected, appreciated, and loved. Instead I was attacked verbally, mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexually. Did I deserve any of it? Of course not.

Regardless of the past, I still believe in love and marriage. I am still hoping that one day I can have someone in my life that appreciates me, loves me, and wants to give me what I give to them. Do I need someone in my life to make me happy? No, but it would be nice to give my love to someone who truly loves me back.

Been a few days

I know it’s been a few days since my last post but I have been having problems with ms (multiple sclerosis). It has definitely been hard on me, especially since I have no treatment and the symptoms started in 2010. Apparently the Army doctors don’t know anything about giving current diagnoses and treatment. Because of their negligence, I severely suffer today.

It’s crazy how one thing can ruin someone’s life. It has been difficult, especially since it us affecting my eyesight. I have had to put a hold on school and I can’t work. I miss living a normal life. Most days I’m stuck on the couch with severe pain. I will be glad when the VA (Veterans Affairs) decides to finally get me to the proper doctor, give me the proper diagnosis, and start the current treatment so that I can start to feel better.

The Reason Why

Some of us may go through life never knowing why we were born or whose life we might have touched, but I have had the pleasure of knowing one life that I have touched.

After getting past the pain and suffering that followed my experiences as a child, I was able to have an amazing experience. I was 17-years-old and at a youth convention with my church youth group. A speaker was unable to make it to the convention and all the youth ministers were asked if they knew someone who could fill in the slot. My youth minister asked me if I would be able to do it. I thought and prayed about it for a few minutes and even though I have extreme stage fright, I decided to do it. After I told of my experiences with child abuse, not knowing my biological parents, being adopted by my grandparents, and my failed suicide attempts, I gave a sigh of relief. There were only about 2,000 people at this convention looking at me as I told my story. I not only told of my experiences but about how I managed to get through them and get to happiness.

Once I was done and the convention was done for the day, a girl about 15-years-old came up to me to thank me. She had tears in her eyes and I could tell she had been crying for a little while. She went on to tell me that she had not been through as much as I have and yet I had made it which meant that she could to. She had been thinking about suicide because of what she was going through. My story made her realize that there is a rainbow after the rain.

After this incident, I decided that I was going to openly talk about my life experiences to anyone who wanted to hear about them. I may have touched others along the way, I sure hope that I have, and I hope to touch many more. My dad found his purpose in giving me a home and a life without abuse, so like him I have found my purpose and I willingly let God work through me to help others.

I am not perfect, far from it, but with my life experiences I am able to share my success in order to help others.

In the comments below, tell me what this quote means to you, how it inspires you, and/or if you have been grateful in knowing that you have touched someone’s life. I would love to hear about it and I am sure that others would too.

Effects of Child Sexual Abuse on the Victim

Information retrieved from The National Center for Victims of Crime. (2012). Effects of Child Sexual Abuse on Victims. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 fromĀ http://victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/effects-of-csa-on-the-victim

For victims, the effects of child sexual abuse can be devastating. Victims may feel significant distress and display a wide range of psychological symptoms, both short- and long-term. They may feel powerless, ashamed, and distrustful of others. The abuse may disrupt victims’ development and increase the likelihood that they will experience other sexual assaults in the future.

In the short-term (up to two years), victims may exhibit regressive behaviors (e.g., thumb-sucking and bed-wetting in younger children), sleep disturbances, eating problems, behavior and/or performance problems at school, and unwillingness to participate in school or social activities.

Longer-term effects may be wide-ranging, to include anxiety-related, self-destructive behaviors such as alcoholism or drug abuse, anxiety attacks, and insomnia.

Victims may show fear and anxiety in response to people who share characteristics of the abuser, i.e., the same sex as the abuser or similar physical characteristics. Victims may experience difficulties in adult relationships and adult sexual functioning.

Survivors may feel anger at the abuser, at adults who failed to protect them, and at themselves for not having been able to stop the abuse.

Victims may experience traumatic sexualization, or the shaping of their sexuality in “developmentally inappropriate” and “interpersonally dysfunctional” ways.

Victims may feel betrayed and an inability to trust adults because someone they depended on has caused them great harm or failed to protect them.

Victims may feel powerless because the abuse has repeatedly violated their body space and acted against their will through coercion and manipulation.

Abusers may cause victims to feel stigmatized (i.e., ashamed, bad, deviant) and responsible for the molestation.

Victims of child sexual abuse have higher rates of victimization (later sexual assaults) than non-victims.

Some victims may appear to be free of the above symptoms.

A study conducted in 1986 found that 63% of women who had suffered sexual abuse by a family member also reported a rape or attempted rape after the age of 14. Recent studies in 200, 2002, and 2005 have all concluded similar results.

Children who had an experience of rape or attempted rape in their adolescent years were 13.7 times more likely to experience rape or attempted rape in their first year of college.

Those with a prior history of sexual victimization are extremely likely to be re-victimized. Some research estimates an increased risk of over 1000%.

A child who is the victim of prolonged sexual abuse usually develops low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness and an abnormal or distorted view of sex. The child may become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can become suicidal.

Common Symptoms in Adult Survivors of CSA

Information retrieved from Tracy, N.. (2017). Common Symptoms in Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. Retrieved December 21, 2017 from https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/articles/symptoms-adult-survivors-childhood-sexual-abuse/

Physical Symptoms of Childhood Sexual Abuse

  • Chronic pelvic pain
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms/distress
  • Musculoskeletal complaints
  • Obesity, eating disorders
  • Insomnia, sleep disorders
  • Pseudocyesis
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Asthma, respiratory ailments
  • Addictions (alcohol addiction/drug addiction)
  • Chronic headache
  • Chronic back pain

Psychological and Behavioral Symptoms of Childhood Sexual Abuse

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Posttraumatic stress disordersymptoms
  • Dissociative states
  • Repeated self-injury
  • Suicide attempts
  • Lying, stealing, truancy, running away
  • Poor contraceptive practices
  • Compulsive sexual behaviors
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Somatizing disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Poor adherence to medical recommendations
  • Intolerance of or constant search for intimacy
  • Expectation of early death

Adverse Childhood Exposures (ACEs)

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from https://americanspcc.org/adverse-childhood-experiences-aces/

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being. These experiences occur in a child’s life before the age of 18 and are remembered by that child as an adult. Such traumatic event may include: psychological (emotional), physical, or sexual abuse; violence against mother; or living with household members who were substance abusers, mentally ill or suicidal, or criminal or imprisoned household members.

maltreatment (child abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, bullying, etc.) causes stress that can disrupt early brain development, and serious, chronic stress can harm the development of the nervous and immune systems.

Long Lasting Effects of ACEs

Children who are abused or neglected are at higher risk for health problems as adults. These problems include alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviors, smoking, suicide, and certain chronic diseases. ACEs have a strong and cumulative impact on the health and functioning of adults. The toxic levels of stress or trauma related to Adverse Childhood Experiences is linked to poor physical and mental health, chronic disease, lower educational achievement, lower economic success, and impaired social success in adulthood.

Adverse childhood experiences have been linked to:

  • risky health behaviors
  • chronic health conditions
  • low life potential
  • early death

ACEs-Health Issues & Risky Behavior

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are common. Almost two-thirds of participants in a ACE’s study reported at least one ACE, and more than one in five reported three or more ACE’s. As the number of ACE’s increases so does the number of risk factors, as of the following:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement

Domestic Violence Effects on Children & Families

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from https://americanspcc.org/domestic-violence/

Each year, millions of children and adolescents in the United States are exposed to violence in their homes, schools, and communities as both victims and witnesses. Even if they are not physically present, children may be affected by intentional harm done by another (for example, the murder of or an assault on a family member or close neighbor).

Children react to exposure to violence in different ways, and many children chow remarkable resilience. All too often, however, children who are exposed to violence undergo lasting physical, mental, and emotional harm. They suffer from difficulties with attachment, regressive behavior, anxiety and depression, and aggression and conduct problems.

They may be more prone to dating violence, delinquency, further victimization, and involvement with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Moreover, being exposed to violence may impair a child’s capacity for partnering and parenting later in life, continuing the cycle of violence into the next generation.

Domestic violence in families is often hidden from view and devastates its victims physically, emotionally, spiritually and financially. It threatens the stability of the family and negatively impacts on all family members, especially the children who learn from it that violence is an acceptable way to cope with stress or problems or to gain control over another person.

A recent U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)-funded study concluded that a majority of children in the United States have been exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools, and communities. The consequences of this problem are significant and widespread. Children’s exposure to violence, whether as victims or witnesses, is often associated with long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children exposed to violence are also at a higher risk of engaging in criminal behavior later in life and becoming part of a cycle of violence.

What is Domestic Violence?

The term domestic violence, is often referred to as domestic abuse, battering, or family violence, and more recently as intimate partner violence (IPV). The Justice Department defines domestic violence “as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.”

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)

Another name for domestic violence, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines intimate partner violence (IPV) as “physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. THis type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. IPV can vary in frequency and severity. It occurs on a continuum, ranging from one hit that may or may not impact the victim to chronic, severe battering.”

Family Violence

Domestic violence is also referred to as family violence. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges’ (NCJFCJ’s) defines family violence as “the occurrence of one or more of the following acts by a family or household member, but does not include acts of self-defense.”

  • Attempting to cause or causing physical harm to another family of household member.
  • Placing a family or household member in fear of physical harm.
  • Causing a family or household member to engage involuntarily in sexual activity by force, threat of force, or duress.

Domestic Violence – Adult Statistics

In addiction to the immediate impact, intimate partner violence has lifelong consequences. A number of studies have shown that beyond injury and death, victims of IPV are more likely to report a range of negative mental and physical health outcomes that are both acute and chronic in nature.

  • More than 10 million women and men in the United States experience physical violence each year by a current or former intimate partner.
  • Over 1 in 5 women 922.3%) experience severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Nearly 1 in 7 men (14%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • Approximately 9.2% of women and 2.5% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

Domestic Violence – Child Statistics

Children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic disorders; fail or have difficulty in school; and become delinquent and engage in criminal behavior.

  • Sixty percent of American children were exposed to violence, crime, or abuse in their homes, schools, and communities.
  • Almost 40 percent of American children were direct victims of 2 or more violent acts, and 1 in 10 were victims of violence 5 or more times.
  • Children are more likely to be exposed to violence and crime than adults.
  • Almost 1 in 10 American children saw one family member assault another family member, and more than 25 percent had been exposed to family violence during their lifetime.
  • A child’s exposure to one type of violence increases the likelihood that the child will be exposed to other types of violence and exposed multiple times.

What is Sexual Child Abuse?

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from https://americanspcc.org/child-sexual-abuse/

Sexual child abuse is a type of maltreatment, violation, and exploitation that refers to the involvement of the child in sexual activity to provide sexual gratification or financial benefit to the perpetrator. It includes contact for sexual purposes, molestation, statutory rape, prostitution, pornography, exposure, incest, or other sexually exploitative activities.

Sexual Child Abuse Statistics:

  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.
  • Over 58,000 children were sexually abused last year.
  • 8.3% of reported child abuse cases were sexual abuse.
  • 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members.
  • 12.3% of girls were age 10 or younger at the time of their first rape/victimization, and 30% of girls were between the ages of 11 and 17.
  • 27.8% of boys were age 10 or younger at the time of their victimization.
  • 96% of people who sexually abuse children are male, and 76.8% of people who sexually abuse children are adults.
  • 325,000 children are at risk of becoming victims of commercial child sexual exploitation each year.
  • Caregiver alcohol or drug abuse is a child risk factor putting kids at much higher risk for being abused.
  • The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14-years-old, and the average age for boys is 11 to 13-years-old.

 

What is Child Neglect?

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from https://americanspcc.org/neglect/

Neglect is the negligent treatment or maltreatment of a child by a parent or caretaker under circumstances indicating harm or threatened harm to the child’s health, safety or welfare. The term includes both acts of commission and omissions on the part of the responsible person. The California Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act defines two categories of physical neglect, severe neglect and general neglect.

Severe neglect means the negligent failure of a parent or caretaker to protect the child from severe malnutrition or medically diagnosed non-organic failure to thrive. It also means those situations of neglect where the parent or caretaker willfully causes or permits the person or health of the child to be placed in a situation such that his or her person or health is endangered. This includes the intentional failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.

General neglect means the negligent failure of a parent or caretaker to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision where no physical injury to the child has occurred.

An example of inadequate supervision is when parents leave their children unsupervised during the hours when the children are out of school. These parents are often unable to arrange childcare services to meet their needs. Although these parents may not regard themselves as “neglecting their children”, leaving young children without supervision may constitute general neglect. Children left in these circumstances may also be particularly vulnerable to accidents, injuries, or crime. Because these parents don’t see any wrongdoing, this is a very complicated area that is subject to controversy regarding the age when children should be left alone, societal and community responsibilities to provide resources, and governmental requirements.

Prenatal neglect is maternal substance (drug or alcohol) abuse coupled with significant risk factors that indicate the parent’s inability to provide the child with adequate care.

Psycho-Social Failure to Thrive

Infants or young children who are much smaller than would be expected at a particular age can present a difficult diagnostic problem for physicians. After excluding those infants who are small because they were small at birth, there remains a large group of infants with low weights and perhaps short lengths and small head circumferences. Some of these children are small because of failure to meet their nutritional needs and/or failure to meet their emotional needs. These children may also demonstrate delayed development and abnormal behavior. Some of the small children, however, do have hidden medical problems. Hospitalization may be required to screen for significant medical illness and, more important, to see if the child responds to adequate nutrition and a nurturing environment with a rapid weight gain and more appropriate behavior. Evaluation is more than weighting and measuring a baby. Children who suffer neglect may also receive sporadic disconnected medical care and are likely only to be examined in emergency rooms. They may have no ongoing measurement of development except as noted by caretakers. Growth charts compare the child to other children noting percentile size in head, body length and weight. Feeding failure for whatever reason will generally damage weight first, length second, and head circumference third, so it may be helpful to observe the caretaker’s feedings habits. In fact, the best environment to observe this is in the home. Pediatric expertise is vital to access such changes but growth charts should be kept on all infants and toddlers who may be suffering neglect.

Failure to document physical growth and other markers of child development may prevent an accurate diagnosis and make it impossible to protect a child or provide useful intervention.

If left untreated, the physical and/or emotional health of the child may be endangered, and emotional disorders, school problems, retardation, and other problems may result.

Indications of Neglect

Neglect may be suspected if any of the following conditions exist:

  • The child is lacking adequate medical or dental care.
  • The child is often sleepy or hungry.
  • The child is often dirty, demonstrates poor personal hygiene, or is inadequately dressed for weather conditions.
  • The child is depressed, withdrawn or apathetic; exhibits antisocial or destructive behavior, shows exaggerated fearfulness; or suffers from substance abuse, or speech, eating, or habit disorders (biting, rocking, whining).
  • There is evidence of poor supervision (repeated falls down stairs; repeated ingestion of harmful substances; a child cared for by another child); the child is left alone in the home, or unsupervised under any circumstance (left in car, street).
  • The conditions in the home are unsanitary (garbage, animal, or human excrement); the home lacks heating or plumbing; there are fire hazards or other unsafe home conditions; the sleeping arrangements are cold, dirty, or otherwise inadequate.
  • The nutritional quality of food in the home is poor; meals are not prepared; refrigerator or cupboards contain spoiled food.

While some of these conditions may exist in any home environment for a variety of different reasons, e.g., poverty, welfare reform, and limitations of entitlement programs, it is the extreme or persistent presence of these factors that indicate someĀ  degree of neglect.

Disarray and an untidy home do not necessarily mean the home is unfit. Extreme conditions resulting in an “unfit home” constitute neglect that may justify protective custody and dependency proceedings under Welfare and Institutions Code section 300, as well as criminal neglect charges.