What Is Child Abuse and How to Spot It

What is Child Abuse?

Child abuse is ANY harm done to a child by someone responsible for the care of that child. Abuse may be a singular incident or a pattern of behavior. It can take place anywhere, from a child's home, day care center, home day care, to a school, or church. An abuser can be just about anyone from a parent or other family member, to a child care provider, scout leader, teacher or any other adult that the child is in the care of.

The definitions of abuse tend to vary from state to state, but most laws cover four main types of abuse. They are:

-Physical Abuse- physical harm to a child such as hitting, kicking, etc.

-Sexual Abuse- Anything of a sexual nature involving a child.

-Emotional Abuse- Damage dome to a child's emotional state.

-Neglect- Failure to provide for the basic needs of a child. (i.e. withholding food or medical care)

Sometimes, these forms of abuse are found alone, but more often than not, they are found in a combination of more than one type of abuse. For example, a child who is physically abused is often emotionally abused or neglected as well. Or a child may be being beaten and belittled, combining physical and emotional abuse.

Signs of Physical Abuse

Signs of physical abuse are often the most easily recognized. Physical abuse is also the most commonly thought of form of abuse when someone mentions child abuse. Therefor, it is the one that is most often reported on.

Easily recognized signs that a child is being physically abused are; unexplained or frequent bruises, burns, cuts, welts or broken bones. Bruises, cuts and broken bones in various stages of healing show a long standing pattern of abuse. Now, children do get cuts and bruises. Especially physically active children. It is all a part of being a kid, but there is often a clear difference between normal bruises and suspicious bruises.

Normal bruising areas on a child are; the forehead, elbows, hands, knees and the front of the calves. A child will fall off of their bike and scrape up their knees and hands. This is normal, and not a cause for concern. Suspicious bruising areas are; the face, neck, genitals, upper legs, back, bottom, and the backs of the legs. It is much harder for a child to bruise themselves in these areas through normally occurring accidents. That is not to say that it is impossible, and does not mean that any bruise in these areas is considered as abuse.

I recall my time working in child care, where we had a small child who was just getting the hang of walking and fell down quite often. On several occasions, she fell on her bottom, and landed on something in her way. It, once or twice, resulted in bruises on her bottom from the fall. My own daughter has done the same thing. Just be aware that there are normal bruises, and there are also not so normal bruises.

Other signs of physical abuse are harder to see. They require attention. If a child seems frightened of a parent or caregiver, or cries when they are around, that child may have good reason to fear that person. Behavioral changes such as lashing out, hitting, biting, or withdrawal are also signs that a child may be being abused. A child may even tell you that he or she has been hurt by a parent or other caregiver. This may be the child reaching out for help. The child may have just received a spanking. Some see spanking as a useful form of discipline, while others see it as abuse. It is not often viewed as abuse in the eyes of the law.

Accidental Bruising Areas

These are areas of normal, accidental bruising on a child.  Bruises in these areas are common in children, and are not always indicative of abuse
These are areas of normal, accidental bruising on a child. Bruises in these areas are common in children, and are not always indicative of abuse

Non-Accidental Bruising Areas

These bruising areas are less likely to be from the normal activities of a child.  These areas are more often associated with signs of abuse.  A bruise in one area is not generally indicative of abuse, but bruises in several areas, or the same area s
These bruising areas are less likely to be from the normal activities of a child. These areas are more often associated with signs of abuse. A bruise in one area is not generally indicative of abuse, but bruises in several areas, or the same area s

Signs of Sexual Abuse

Sadly, sexual abuse of children is far too common. It occurs in many forms, from exposing a child to inappropriate situations or images, to fondling, rape and sodomy. It is fairly recognizable in most of the more extreme cases, but far too often, it goes unreported.

Some of the more obvious signs that a child has been sexually abused are; a child who's underwear is torn, stained or bloody, a child who has difficulty walking or sitting, bruising or trauma to genital or anal area, or a child who complains of itching or pain of the genital area. These are fairly clear cut signs that a child may have been sexually abused in some way.

Other signs show up in a child's behavior. A sexually abused child may act out in an overly sexual manner, or engage in highly sexualized play. They often act in an overly mature manner, or, in other words, act more like an adult than they should. They may be unwilling to participate in activities, or be withdrawn, or exhibit poor self esteem.

Again, a child may tell you that they have been sexually abused, though they may not always know that that is what has happened to them. They may tell you that daddy touched them, or that their scout leader asked them to do inappropriate things. It is difficult for children to come forward when they have been sexually abused. They often don't understand what has been done to them, or they don't have the words to tell you. They often feel shame, or feel that the person did it because they 'loved them'. Sexual abuse is very hard for children to understand and to come to terms with.

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is by far the hardest to recognize, the most socially accepted, and the most difficult to prove. Many things that are, in truth, emotional abuse, are far too often ignored. It should not be that way, because emotional abuse has a very real, lasting effect on a child's self worth, and should be taken seriously.

As I said, emotional abuse is the hardest to recognize. The signs manifest in behavior. A child may exhibit extremes in behavior from extreme aggression to extreme passivity. A child who is emotionally abused may have unexplained delays in physical or emotional development, including speech disorders or habit disorders such as sucking or biting.

They often act in ways that are uncharacteristic of a child of their age. They may either act overly mature or overly immature. They may engage in antisocial or destructive behavior. They may often parrot the behavior of the abuser; calling kids names, bullying, or doing other things to emotionally harm others.

Emotional abuse is hard to recognize, so I am including some forms of emotional abuse for information purposes. I did not feel the need to do so for the other forms, because they are more clear cut, and more well known. Emotional abuse includes; belittling, name-calling, bullying, teasing, and ignoring the child's emotional needs. It can include cruel restrictions or punishments that do not involve physical harm, such as tying a child to a chair for running around in the house, or overly shaming a child for wetting his or her pants.

Psychological unavailability is also emotionally abusive to a child. Refusing to talk to a child, not showing love or affection towards the child, and leaving a child with an unfamiliar and uncaring caregiver are examples of psychological unavailability.

Also, allowing the psychological needs, or difficulties, of a child to go untreated falls into emotional abuse. You are not meeting the needs of the child. Failure to seek treatment for a child after recommendations to have the child assessed, evaluated, or treated for emotional problems is not only furthering the emotional abuse, it is also neglectful.

Verbal abuse is the most common, and most socially accepted form of abuse. It falls in line with emotional abuse. It is verbal violence against a child and it is WRONG! Taunting, humiliation, or deliberate frightening of a child is damaging to the child's self-worth. I can't count the times I have been in a store and have heard a parent tell a child to behave or they were going to leave them in the store. In my time working at a day care, I heard every horrible thing you can imagine. Parents who called their children all kinds of mean names, even some of a profane nature, parents who threatened children, other caregivers who humiliated children for wetting their pants while the child was potty training. It was enough to make me sick.

Emotional abuse is rarely reported as abuse. It is hard to prove, and except in extreme cases, not really seen as abuse. When people think of abuse, they think of the other three forms of abuse, and see emotional abuse as more of a side product of one of the other forms of abuse. While this is often the case, it is not the rule. A child can be emotionally abused without a caregiver ever laying a finger on them.

Signs of Neglect

A child who is neglected is deprived of the very things a child needs to survive. What do we all need to survive? Food, clothing, shelter, health care. These are the types of things a child who is neglected is often deprived of.

A child who is neglected often is lacking proper medical or dental care, or is not up to date on their immunizations. I know that there has been a lot of attention lately about the safety of immunizations, and some parents are refusing to immunize their children. That is different. They feel that they are acting in the interests of their children, not neglecting to give them what they need. Do I agree with all of the parents who refuse to get their children immunized? No, but that is neither here, nor there. I do understand that they feel they are acting in the best interests of their children. That is not neglect.

A child who is neglected is constantly hungry, dirty, or lacks sufficient clothing for the weather conditions. They may resort to stealing food or clothing. They often have poor hygiene. If a parent forgets to send a jacket along with the child to school, on the off chance that the day might be chilly, that is usually of no concern, but if a child is out in the cold, on a winter day with no coat, that is a problem.

I recall when I was working day care, there was one child who frequently came to school wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts in the horrible heat of the desert summer. Her hair was often very dirty, and she had a chronic problem with lice. This child was obviously being neglected. She was wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather, she was not getting bathed, and her medical needs (the lice) were not being taken care of.

Premature competence is a very particular form of neglect, in which a very young child is made to take on roles and responsibilities that are not appropriate for a child of that age. For example, a six-year old child being responsible for the care of a two-year old sibling in the evenings while a parent is away from the house. Or a young child being forced to take on all of the household responsibilities, including making dinner and cleaning the house. I do feel that chores are important for children, so that they learn a sense of responsibility for the mess they make, but a young child should not be expected to basically fend for themselves.

Abuse Hurts

The direct victim of the abuse is often seen as the only victim, but that is not always the case. Even if a child is never touched, the abuse still hurts that child. A child seeing his or her brother or sister being beaten is still affected by that abuse. A child knowing that a friend or sibling has been raped or sexually abused is still a victim of that abuse. That child is still scarred by that abuse.

Child abuse is a devastating issue in this country. News stories of the sex scandals in the catholic church, stories of children being beaten and killed, stories of Shaken Baby Syndrome and it's devastating effects. Abuse is everywhere. The saddest thing I have learned is that laws protecting animals from abuse were in effect long before there were ever laws protecting children from abuse.

In the late 1800's, there was a child named Mary Ellen. She was horribly abused by the adults in charge of her care. Friends and neighbors tried to help her, but learned that there were no laws against the abuse or neglect of children. They had to go to the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals!!

The NYSPCA took their case to court and argued that humans, including children, were in essence, animals, and therefor, deserving of protection under the laws against cruelty to animals. The court agreed. From that time on, every state has enacted laws protecting children from abuse and neglect. It is hard to believe that animals were safe from abuse, yet children were not.

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Comments 71 comments

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 2 years ago from Florida Author

bbesidehimselfDADA-- If the cause of the trauma was the bird, maybe sit down and talk with your daughter. Even though she is two, she is old enough to kind of understand most of what you talk to her about. Ask her simple questions like, "does the bird upset you?" "are you scared of the bird?" At 18 months of age, my daughter and I ran into her doctor at a store, and even though she hadn't seen the doctor in almost six months, she recognized her, and instantly started crying. Toddlers understand and remember a lot more than most people would think. My fear, in your situation, is that the mother is reinforcing those fears regarding your daughter. Asking your daughter questions like, "Is DADA nice?" may elicit some interesting insights. Kids are like parrots. They hear things and repeat them.

bbesidehimselfDADA 2 years ago

Ive had my daughter sun, wed and fri 1-8 consistently for over a year* noticed I left the days out

besidehimselfDADA 2 years ago

Ive been through a teeth pulling custody battle im a father who just wants both his daughters parents supportive in her life and ive faught hard to make sure im apart of it, hired a lawyer not to represent me but educate me and did everything hands on. I have recently been experiencing a beside myself heartbreaking experience. My 2 yr old daughter has gone from being overly excited and screaming DADA! Upon my arrival every time, to where the last 3pick ups she has been kicking screaming and running from me. I am beside myself but I believe I know why, just dont know how to reverse it. Last visit before drop off she was bit by my bird, no big deal dad was there to save her and kiss the owie. However im not primary caregiver and was in the process of taking her home. Her mother excessively pointed out her owie and dramatized it. The very next pick up my daughter started this behavior. Ive had my daughter 1-8 consistently for over a year and she has always been fine around me I was about to start getting over nights but now I dont know if its best or how to resolve this behavior. After we leave moms 10 minutes later she is fine all smiles and DADA! do I just tough through it and force her to leave with me I dont want to traumatise her this is breaking my heart when the initial pick up and separation is this difficult?

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 2 years ago from Florida Author

Johne--I'm hardly an expert, and don't claim to be able to help anyone out with their problems. I do hope you seek out the help that you are looking for.

Johne434 2 years ago

hello!,I like your writing so much! share we keep up a correspondence extra about your article on AOL? I require an expert on this space to resolve my problem. May be that is you! Looking ahead to look you. kkeedbbgcfed

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 2 years ago from Florida Author

Anna--If it is just the little brother causing the bruises, it is unlikely that you can show evidence of abuse. I would talk to a counselor at your child's school, or another person that can help you get to the root of the problem, and can give you information concerning laws where you live. It seems as if your son is being neglected when he is at his father's, and that there isn't consistent discipline in that environment if the little brother is hurting his big brother and nothing is being done about it.

Anna 2 years ago

I need advice, I don't no what to do, my sons father and I have shared custody of our 4 year old. We generally get along, very civil. Our son has no problems with myself and is always happy to see his father or talk on the phone to his father, but the past month roughly our son doesn't want to go to his fathers, he is literally forced out the door most times kicking and screaming because he doesn't want to go to his dad's house, although it brings me to tears to not be allowed to say no he doesn't want to go, he must go to his fathers. My son has started coming home with bruises and grazes on his lower middle back (I have photos and dates) 2 separate occasions, on 1 occasion he has come home with a mark under his eye (also have photo and date) and on 4 occasions he has come home with child size bite marks on his body (mainly his back) (also have photos and dates). I have asked his father every time what has happened and I get the whole brothers will be brothers, or I don't no what happened, it wasn't there before, or he fell off the slide or grazed himself on a pool, or I get 2 different stories because he obviously hasn't been watching our son when he is injured. I ask our son every time if he had fun at daddy's, I always stay positive and ask passive questions and he replies with "no aron*(his younger brother) hurt me", or "I don't like lara*(sons fathers girlfriend) she is yucky", or he tells me nothing and cuddles me constantly and only tells me I love you mummy and does this I love you thing we always do when I put him to bed. He comes back from his fathers always looking so dirty like he hasn't been bathed in 2 weeks, I always supply the clothes because his father has clothes that are 2x too small for our son and refuses to buy anymore clothes. I just don't no what to do, friends that have seen it all have said to stop visits but that's not a possibility according to the courts.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 2 years ago from Florida Author

sleepless-- that can be incredibly hard. My best suggestion is to document every incident that your son tells you about, including photographing any bruises. I would also suggest taking him to a counselor of your own, who may be more willing to listen to him.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 2 years ago from Florida Author

Juanita-- I would suggest getting in touch with the father's command, or perhaps a chaplain at the base he is stationed at. I don't know that there is much you can do, since you are not a parent or guardian. You could petition for guardianship, perhaps even ask the father.

sleepless nights 2 years ago

I can relate to several of these posts. My son visits his dad and step mom even though there have been several reports of abuse. I don't understand why he has to suffer. He has told but then he gets shamed for talking and they call him a liar. They have cinvinced him he has a problem telling the truth. Also they take him to a counselor who believes the adult over the child.

Juanita 2 years ago


Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 3 years ago from Florida Author

The best, and only, thing you can do is what you are doing. Talking it out with someone who understands, and can help you find ways to deal with what you have been through. It is terrible how much of an impact childhood abuse plays on our adult lives. I wish you all the best.

Betty 3 years ago

i went through the same abuse as a child and the only thing is can say is that mentally I'm a wreck as an adult I don't know my worth I don't trust anyone and a personal relationships fail every time I don't even know where to began with the repeated psychiatrist

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 4 years ago from Florida Author

It depends on how well you know the child and her family. You could talk to another member of the family about it, you could make a follow up call to DCFS, but I caution you on this, because unless you have "protected status" (health care personnel, teacher, day care provider, etc), you could be sued by the family for making accusations. If the child is ever at your home again, document the marks and bruises, and take her to a police station to make a report.

Jill 4 years ago

You have to be vigilant and protect all children. My daughter's friend was over swimming in our pool, and I noticed while she was changing that she had belt buckle shaped bruises on her labia and thighs. When I asked her about them she said she had been "spanked" by both her parents. I called DCFS but to my knowledge nothing has been done. What more should I do?

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 4 years ago from Florida Author

tiffany-- Thank you for sharing. It really is hard to break the patterns we were taught as children, even when we know how destructive they are. All you can do is fight your way through it, and hope to be better to your children than your parents were to you.

tiffany delite profile image

tiffany delite 4 years ago from united states

i was abused as a child, and i vowed to break the cycle in my own family. i have been to years and years of counseling and therapy along with much prayer and soul searching. inevitably, there are times i find myself falling back into old patterns/habits i learned as a child being abused but i refuse to get stuck in them. this is such a horrible, life changing event. blessings.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 4 years ago from Florida Author

ConcernedMom1-- Not sure if you are the same person as above, but document everything. There are groups around that will act as an advocate for you, and they may be able to offer you more help, more information, or ways to remedy the situation.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 4 years ago from Florida Author

Concerned mother-- Depending on the state you live in, you may have options. You could get a temporary order of protection against his father, and then you would not be in contempt of court, but that is only temporary. During that time, I would suggest he see a therapist who specializes in these sorts of things, so you have some verification to your fears. Make sure you document each incident, and your child's behavior.

ConcernedMom1 4 years ago

I have reported abuse of my son and nothing has been done so far. Taken him to a counselor and document everything. He has to go back to his fathers until something is done, why do these children not have a voice even though there is proof and still a judge can continue to allow him in an abusive environment?

Concerned mother 4 years ago

My 3 year old has showed many of these signs of abuse, I have reported to no end yet the judge says he Has to go back to his fathers home (court ordered temporary parenting plan) Dcs has been involved, even Carl Perkins. The father recently married a woman who has to be seen for a sexual addiction. What do I do and where do I turn? Please someone help! I feel helpless because I have to send him or will be in contempt of court. I don't know what to do

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 4 years ago from Florida Author

saba-- Are you serious? Your dad is starving you because he's angry?? Get help!!! Call someone, send a message over the internet to someone who can help you!!! What he is doing to you is not right!!

saba 4 years ago

hi anna, the stories here are harrowing. Mine isn't as bad. but my dad is starving us at the moment. because he's angry. Your article was written with such clarity,calmness, and empathy. You sound like a very kind and compassionate person. Good on you and thank you for your kindness through this site. I wish you all the best. Peace, and Love to you and to all the commenters, love saba. xx.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 4 years ago from Florida Author

Ginger-- Your story made me cry. I am so sorry for all that you had to endure. As if the abuse weren't enough, people who should have been there to protect you, turned a blind eye. I am happy to hear that you have overcome what had been done to you. I know it can be hard to overcome such a thing.

ANewConservative-- I agree. Emotional/verbal abuse is often overlooked, but in a lot of cases, it is a sign of further abuses, and can be a sign of future abuse. It is definitely not something to be taken lightly.

ANewConservative 4 years ago from Chicago

I'm glad someone else took the time to touch on the importance of emotional/verbal abuse. I often feel like its victims are the "forgotten abused" as it commonly takes the form of seemingly harmless statements on their own. More people need to recognize emotional abuse for what it is.

Ginger GillenH20 profile image

Ginger GillenH20 4 years ago from Ohio

Great article! Thank you for writing and posting it and kudos to all of the commentors sharing bits and pieces of themselves. I've written a couple of hubs on sexual abuse, speaking out about my own experiences a little bit while providing tips, etc. It is so incredibly important for adults to be educated on the signs of all forms of abuse. While I've focused on the sexual abuse in my own hubs, for now, it never stopped there. The fact that adults knew about it and swept it under the rug in hopes it would go away led to 2-3 more years of abuse for me. The subject was a forbidden subject in my home. It came up the second time when I was 13 because my best friend became worried when she found out I was self-harming myself, so she told her grandmother who told other adults who cared about me...not even related to me, but cared enough to talk to my mom. My mom acted to them as if she knew nothing about the abuse. When my mom talked to me about it she said, "That explains a lot." She didn't cry because she already knew, but made comments that I'm sure were made in hopes I had forgotten that I knew she knew. In addition, my mom was always hitting me with something. She had to be pulled off of me once because she was on top of me, pulling out handfuls of my hair, simply because I became frustrated with my algebra homework. Now, at almost 32 years old and a married mother of two, she will tell me that she loves her 15 cats just as much as she loves my brother and I. Truthfully, it doesn't hurt me anymore and my 26 year old brother is started to come around to where I am. He and I have each other, we have in-laws that adore us, and we are both supported.

She was more emotionally abusive to my brother, while she was emotionally and physically abusive to me. The fact she more or less allowed me to be sexually abused because she didn't want to upset my dad's family or ruin her already rocky marriage to my dad because of it, she neglected me through not doing something about it. Instead, she brought it up after my grandmother told her and blamed me...probably to get me to keep my mouth shut. So the fact that she loves her 15 cats - that she loves so much she keeps them shut up in the master bathroom of her "no pets" rental home - as much as my brother and I...I don't care anymore because I have so many others who love me. Of course, it saddens me a little when I see women my age having close relationships with their mothers because I know mine will never be that way. I've wanted it, but I know it'll never happen.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 5 years ago from Florida Author

opusmith-- I agree with you all the way around. I don't think there is a cruel enough punishment for the people that rape and abuse children. A few years in jail is a slap on the wrist in comparison to the life-altering damage the abuse has done to the children involved. You sound like a strong person, considering the way you are able to talk about what has happened to you. It takes great courage to stand up to all that. I do agree with you, that in an age where we can go to the moon, perform surgery with robots, and carry an advanced computer in the palm of our hands, we should be able to solve more important problems than we have managed to do so far. If all that energy that was put into creating cell phone apps, destructive weapons, and other things was put into solving world hunger, ending disease, or protecting children, this world would be a far better place.

opusmith profile image

opusmith 5 years ago

Thank you. I find it hard speaking out about the abuse, but I know if I don't then it will always be 'their secret,' and I no longer wish to carry it as such. I kept a diary from the age of six and in my early twenties I finally plucked up the courage to take my father and uncle to court for the sexual abuse. I thought it would be too late so many years later, but I spoke with someone who assured me that my diaries would convict them, and they did. Every beating, every assault from the age of six went in there, it is also when I learnt to draw, sadly most of the drawings then were horrific. My father had 18 years and served 12, my uncle had 12 years and served all 12. I was horrified that father had been let out early, I will never be let out of the nightmares that still haunt me every single day and night; so why should he have been let out, ever, our legal system makes me so cross. If a judge deems a person deserves 18 years, then they should serve 18 years, none of this good behaviour rubbish. They showed me no mercy. There are so many things in this world I just cannot comprehend. We are capable of sending man to the moon yet we have millions of starving and homeless people on this planet. We have robots who can perform precision laser surgery yet we are unable to spot abuse of children, or when we do we have to jump through hoops to protect the children. We have wonderful caring men and women who dedicate their lives to helping people yet the people we elect into power are often cold and cruel and heartless with only their own agenda to follow. If those of us who may not be politically minded but who have love and compassion, patience and understanding, ran the countries worldwide then there would be no war, no famine, no child abuse. Leaders would still be elected to care for their countries economy, but the peace keepers of this world, those who nurture their own children and care for others, they are the ones who should take charge. Sadly those thoughts are only fit to be assigned to the realms of fairy stories; but I can dream.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 5 years ago from Florida Author

JY-- I had considered appealing to the "powers that be" to have the ads put back on, but not sure if it would change things.

opusmith-- No need to apologize. As I read this, my heart ached and I started to cry. The level of your abuse and torture is truly heartbreaking. No one should ever have to go through what you and your family had to go through. I am glad you were able to break away from that pattern of abuse that often continues into adulthood. You are a strong woman for doing so. I know it will take time to break down all those walls you had to build to protect yourself, but the right man will be willing to work, and willing to wait. I wish you nothing but the best, and I do hope your wish does come true some day. A world where children are not beaten, yelled at or abused in any way should be normal, but sadly, it is not.

opusmith profile image

opusmith 5 years ago

I wish something like this had been around when I was a child.

I was a regular 'visitor' to our local hospital as a child. My legs, arms jaw nose and more, were either broken or fractured on a regular basis. Yet NO ONE helped me. My father would line my three siblings and I up and start by hitting my eldest sister, as soon as she cried out he would turn to me, then my youngest sister, then my brother until finally owe had to stand and watch him beat and often rape, our mother.

I told our local vicar and my punishment for 'lying' (I had three broken ribs, a fractured ankle and a broken knee at the time), was to be put in a 'special place for naughty and wilful children.'

Everyone was afraid of father, no one stood up to him and protected us. The signs of abuse were evident on us all, yet we were left to fend for ourselves.

I always tried, from a very very young age to protect us all, including mother, until at the age of nine (my ninth birthday) she 'gave' me to my father and uncle. She said it was to protect the others. I was sacrificed to their cruelty and depravity in order to stop the violence on her and my siblings because she deemed me 'the strong one.'

I am now ending my third abusive marriage but have finally met someone who would never raise his voice let alone a fist.

I was verbally abused and told I was nothing and no one and was the ugliest person to inhabit this world.

My new partner tells me I am special and beautiful; I am yet to relax enough to trust him or believe his words, but I am getting there.

As a mum of the two most beautiful perfect children, I could not comprehend for one second hurting them. They are the happiest most polite, truly loving children I have ever met and friends often tease about swapping them for their surly teenagers.

If I could have one wish in this lifetime, it would be that no child is ever yelled at, hit, humiliated, raped or abused in any way for all eternity.

That society still turns a blind eye is the saddest part for me.

If I suspect a child of being neglected or abused in any way, I will not hesitate in reporting the abuser. I have on several occasions, from seeing the parent belting a child in the supermarket to reporting a now ex friend who told me how she would wrap her children in a duvet to belt them so that the bruised did not show;-(

If we are all brave enough to stand up for a child's rights and give them a voice, then together we can stamp out this horrendous needles act of cruelty.

My apologies for this being so long.

JY3502 profile image

JY3502 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

I also had two with ads taken off on similar articles. But like you said, it's too important. They stay.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 5 years ago from Florida Author

events-- It really depends on the situation in terms of custody. In some states, you can give someone guardianship without removing rights from parents. Abuse of any kind is a real tragedy. I am glad that things are being investigated, and I hope things work out for the child.

someconcerned-- Unless there is a way to document the abuse, it is hard to prove, and hard to get anyone to do anything about it. You can call, make claims and accusations, but without proof, there is little that can be done. I do hope that a solution can be found. Be cautious about reporting it, though. Some states have laws that are meant to protect the parents from fraudulent accusations, and they can turn around and sue you. I wish I could give you better information, and a little more hope. Find a way to document it, or talk to the child.

someconcerned 5 years ago

my grandchildren have been abuse in ways that it is really hard to see but i have been with them alot and the mother will yell at them and hit them and their attudutes have changed so much. they are afrid of her her saying is they better be afraid of me then love me

what is wrong with this picture?? i have call child abuse hotline and they say without actually signs that they could not help and other people have seen this also and they will not do anything???????

now she will not let us see them at all

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eventsyoudesign 5 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

Great article. Many people treat their pets better than their own kids. I remember seeing abuse in some of my childhood friends. My friends grand daughter has suffered sexual abuse by two different people. It is finally being investigated by the police. The girls mother was not going to do anything about the nine year old daughters situation. My friend, the grandmother, and her son, the girls father, had to intervene. The girls other grandmother works for the child welfare advocacy and yet she is not willing to stand up for her own grand daughter. In fact, the girls mother recently gave her mother custody of the girl. I thought both parents had to consent to this before hand. Maybe not?

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Anna Marie Bowman 5 years ago from Florida Author

crismegirot-- I am glad you found this useful.

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sligobay 5 years ago from east of the equator

Happy Holidays. I linked your Hub as a resource in my new Hub. It was very helpful.

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Beth-- Great!!

Vanmil-- Thank you very much. It is amazing how some things just go unnoticed, and the effects they really have.

Vanmil profile image

Vanmil 6 years ago

Fantastic hub, very well written. I am particularly fond of your addition of "socially accepted/overlooked" examples of abuse, the warning signs and likely behavioural patterns to emerge in young victims. No doubt such abuses are very wide spread, and regarding emotional abuse, as a teenager I found that almost all my friends had similar experiences to varying degrees. Very sad and the warning signs were clear, afterall, it is not normal in the community I grew up in, for 14 year olds to be out past 10pm on a school night, clustered in large groups including the company of near adult men. Emotional abuse leads to a need to find comfort outside of ones home, and this is often not a safe place for a teenage girl to be seeking such.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Anna Marie, it's been republished!!! :) Thank you!!

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Beth-- It can take a little while. I had an issue before that I needed the HubPages staff to look at. It took a few days for them to get back to me.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Thanks Anna Marie. I sent the email last night and am still waiting (fingers drumming on the keyboard....)

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Beth-- Yeah, disabled ads. Not sure why HP and Google would flag it. Contact the HP staff and see if they can look at it for you, and see what the issue is.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Anna Marie, did you disable the google ads? My flag is for both the google and HP violations. Any ideas on how to get around this? I don't want to unpublish it -- it's too important. I don't mind at all!!! I'll go and link your hub into those ones. :)

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Beth-- I found a couple and put links on this Hub. Hope you don't mind!!!

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Beth-- Mine was flagged by google for adult content, and my ads were removed. Don't care, though. It's important information, so it stays.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Well, looks like my hub has been unpublished by the Team. I'm not sure if I will republish it...I have not had any complaints regarding this hub since I published it. Let me think things through and I'll find another one of my hubs that is pertinent to abuse. I'll let you know.

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Beth-- No need to ask permission. Give me a few minutes and I will check yours out, and link it to mine as well, if that's ok??

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Anna Marie, I have linked your hub, if you provide me permission, with mine. Together, we can make a difference.

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Beth-- It is something close to my heart, as well. Having seen the devastating affects it has on children breaks my heart. I just hope the information I put up helps at least one child. If it does even that, I know I have made a difference.

Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Very well written and thorough. I applaud you in writing this to help educate those around you. Thank you for writing on child abuse -- it is a subject that is close to my heart.

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Anna Marie Bowman 6 years ago from Florida Author

Bacs-- Glad I can do something to bring the issue of all forms of abuse to light.

Support Med.-- Thank you very much!!

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Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

Thoroughly presented.-------- I found an interesting route to your hub and I must commend you for a job well done. Voted-up/rated.

Bacs O'Bannon profile image

Bacs O'Bannon 6 years ago

Thank you for writing this, and for being abuse out of the darkness. I appreciate it very much.

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida Author

AIDY-- Thank you. I appreciate the comments. I completely agree.

Am I dead, yet? 7 years ago

Thank you for sharing this. We have to be an advocate for children. They are the innocent. Well informed hub. I know these type of abuses all to well.

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Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida Author

ghostwriter-- Thank you. I know all too well the hidden scars that emotional abuse can leave behind.

ghostwritermsc07 profile image

ghostwritermsc07 7 years ago from Spokane, Wa

Very informative. Thank you for including emotional abuse as well. This abuse too often goes unnoticed but the scars it leaves behind are very real indeed.

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Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida Author

magnoliazz-- I work at a hospital, as well, and I have seen the same thing. It makes me sick to my stomach to see what stupid people do to their kids, just because they are frustrated and upset.

magnoliazz profile image

magnoliazz 7 years ago from Wisconsin

I am a nurse, and all too often we are seeing more and more signs of abuse. The bad economy has made things even worse, immature adults take out their frustrations on their children.

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Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida Author

Thank you so much, LM!!! The sad truth is, a lot of people are afraid to report their suspicions. There is a chance that they could be wrong, and if they are wrong, there is a chance that they can be sued. Childcare providers and hospital employees are exempt from this, but it keeps a lot of people from reporting when they aren't 100% sure.

Laughing Mom profile image

Laughing Mom 7 years ago

Wonderful hub, Anna! More people need to know what you've got in this hub. And more people need to be willing to follow it up with reporting their *true* suspicions. You're one of those very special angels, Anna.

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Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida Author

J Mockridge-- Thank you!! Sadly, it doesn't get as much attention as I would like. Thank you for visiting, and for commenting!

J Mockridge 7 years ago

A true, and important hub.

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Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida Author

B. Panciera-- I am sorry you had to live through that. Thank you for reading, and please do!!

B. Panciera profile image

B. Panciera 7 years ago from Earth...Too much of the time!

Great article, made me cry.. I have lived through it, and understand. I will be adding your article as a link!

Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 7 years ago from Florida Author

mayhmong-- I am sorry to hear about your story. Thank you for sharing!! I agree, I think the more people that see this, the more of a chance there is to recognize less obvious forms of abuse, and do something about it!

mayhmong profile image

mayhmong 7 years ago from North Carolina

My childhood ended when I turned 8 then. We were brought up to live as a full fledge grown up to take care of everything. I mean things such as babysitting, cooking, cleaning, do yard work to earn money. Thanks for sharing this post. All public schools and daycares need to know this!

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Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida Author

KT pdx- I am glad that I have an outlet to bring attention to all forms of abuse, including ones that are more socially acceptable and ignored. I am sorry to hear about the abuse you endured. It saddens me every time I hear of any type of abuse anyone has had to suffer.

KT pdx profile image

KT pdx 8 years ago from Vancouver, WA, USA

Thanks for including the signs, symptoms, and examples of emotional abuse and neglect, especially the name-calling and being expected to do things that were above your developmental level (acting as responsible as an adult). That was my lot as a child. Nobody called my parents on it, because it was socially accepted. Everyone, in fact, praised them on bringing me up to be responsible. Being the adult in a child-parent relationship when you're really the child IS neglect, and I'm so glad you pointed that out.

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Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida Author

dafla- I am sorry to hear about the abuse you suffered. I truly understand your pain, with first-hand knowledge.

dafla 8 years ago

I agree that emotional abuse is often the most damaging. I still have scars from emotional abuse as a child and teenager. I wonder sometimes what my life would have been like if it hadn't happened.

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