“Child maltreatment has been called the tobacco industry of mental health. Much the way smoking directly causes or triggers predispositions for physical disease, early abuse may contribute to virtually all types of mental illness.”
Neglected ChildrenChild abuse troubling in Lincoln County by RICK MARK email@example.com|Updated
“If a child is brought into a world of poverty, homelessness, drugs and alcohol, then that child is in a very risky place. The rate of child abuse in Lincoln County is more than twice that of the rest of Oregon, says child advocate Ron Davidson, and the problem is made even more severe because of a profound lack of services for children in this county.” click the highlighted text above for the full article…
Following is an excerpt from my new paperback edition and workbook, “I Worry About the Kids!” Publication anticipated in April 2016…
“My heart aches with sadness when thinking and worrying about children who are caught in the middle of the dangerous and chaotic world of abuse, including post-traumatic stress (PTS.) Even unborn babies can be damaged from post-trauma family dynamics. To be sure, we have lots of work to do as parents, teachers, and mentors to help younger children get past the environmental factors created by adult behaviors connected with PTS symptoms. Our children should not have to take all this emotional baggage with them into adulthood. We can do better as parents and as a community of families. We understand the contributing factors and consequences well enough these days to stop the stigma, denial, and listen to ourselves, have conversations with loved ones and mental health professionals; then take actions to change the home environment for children and families from chaos and fear to love and security. It is up to families to create and safe and secure home for children. Home is where PTS takes root, and home is where it will end. Can’t we do more? Yes, we can do more! Follow me on this journey through the rest of this workbook, and find the awareness and solutions that best fit your family circumstances. Do this with deep love for the children in our lives and the future of America.”
“Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following descriptions of abuse, reach out.”
When I write or talk about the subject of domestic violence and abuse, I get shivers and flashbacks of my own childhood and young adult experience. One such memory is when my Dad freaked out when my brother and I came home with a jaywalking ticket while we were walking around Long Beach, California back in the early 1960’s. I have a full brain catalog of painful childhood memories that seem to stick around forever. In this case, and many others the memories are vivid. My father exploded on many occasions when we were growing up for lots of small things. Dad suffered severely from the emotional baggage of WWII and Korean War. We were constantly in fear of him, and expected to be hit in the head on a moments notice and punished severely for things that were not always clear. Mother would try to protect us but was mostly fearful of him too.
I carried all this emotional baggage with me for decades until finally discovering that talking and writing about it was actually healing. These days in my later years in life I feel a peace of mind, especially since writing my first book and this blog. This is my way of keeping the pain of the past at a safe distance. My work in community service making a difference for children and families through my work with Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon keeps me firmly grounded. My wife, Judy, is my best friend and soul mate, who provides loving support every day, is a huge factor in my journey of healing as well. Once becoming aware of the circumstances of domestic violence and child abuse, you can begin your own journey of healing. But it is a work in progress. The memories of a painful past come back to haunt most trauma survivors unless we confront the demons head on…
“This case aside, a growing body of research has established that cognitive problems are part of the bitter harvest of child maltreatment. Abuse, chaos, fear and neglect experienced for years in early childhood shape the very architecture of the brain, playing out in cognitive problems, anxiety, behaviour disorders and later addiction and mental illnesses. But if child abuse inflicts damage that is so fundamental and structural, is there really much hope it can be repaired? The short answer is yes,” says visiting child trauma expert Dr Bruce Perry, senior fellow of the Houston-based Child Trauma Academy, and adjunct professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Chicago’s Northwestern University. But using the right therapy at the right time is crucial, and difficult to gauge. What is becoming evident, though, is that some unexpected therapies – including movement, massage and yoga breathing – can be used to repair the most primal parts of the brain and help wounded children heal.“
All children, even those living in healthy and safe homes, are exposed to life changing traumatic events! There are tragedies and traumatic events happening to families everyday all over the globe. How do we help the wounded child heal?
According to the full article in the Listener, it is the rare child who is not affected or damaged emotionally when experiencing maltreatment or abuse over an extended period of time. What worries me the most, is that family members “move on” to the next traumatic event without stepping back to assess the damage and recover. Maltreatment becomes part of the family culture over time…and often competitive with siblings abusing each other as well. These kids from toxic homes like mine grow up and become emotionally challenged adults who eventually need help to save our hearts and souls from the lifetime pain of post trauma symptoms that look much like PTSD. If parents and teachers could achieve more awareness of the consequences of trauma in children earlier and detect the early symptoms in youngsters, simple steps, including massage therapy and deep breathing, can help start the healing process much earlier. But in most cases, parents who are abusive are also neglectful or completely unaware of the long term consequences of trauma on children. In my case, growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s in a highly toxic home, the intensity of abuse and maltreatment was at times overwhelming and without relief through treatment. My parents did not know or understand the consequences of their behaviors…they felt that children were always resilient…not so as we all know today.
At the prime age of 68, I have mostly recovered from a toxic childhood and young adult life, but it is a work in progress to keep the pain of the past at a safe distance. I waited until later in life to even recognize the symptoms of PTSD until researching and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, helping me begin a long overdue journey of healing that saved my life. Please help others become more aware of the consequences of child maltreatment and abuse… Recognize the symptoms and take early action to help wounded children heal…
“When parents bring their four-month-olds to a well-baby checkup at the Children’s Clinic in Portland, OR, Drs. Teri Petersen, R.J. Gillespie and their 15 other partners ask the parents about their adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).
When parents bring a child who’s bouncing off the walls and having nightmares to the Bayview Child Health Center in San Francisco, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris doesn’t ask: “What’s wrong with this child?” Instead, she asks, “What happened to this child?” and calculates the child’s ACE score.”
When I was growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s the conversation at home and in school was “what is wrong with your child rather than what happened to this child.” Childhood trauma is not new. We still have toxic homes and neighborhoods, but parents and teachers know more in the 21st Century thanks to the CDC ACES study and testing. “The ACE Study findings suggest that certain experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States.”
As a child advocate and vice chair of Neighbors for Kids, a popular after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon, we often have to address all types of special needs of kids, including the effects of trauma. The more we know from collaboration with public school teachers and parents, we are able to pay particular attention to traumatized children and help them effectively. I know from my own traumatic childhood experience that growing up feeling alone, scared, and asking myself “what is wrong with me” or hearing “what is wrong with you” had long term damaging consequences on my ability to build self confidence and feel connected with other kids and my adult mentors. Eventually joining the US Navy at age 17 as a young adult saved the day. No child should suffer from emotional neglect and abuse and believe there is something wrong with them…early recognition and special attention is critical!
When you observe a child bouncing off the walls, or looking scared and lonely, please show love and compassion. As a teacher, mentor, and parent you are in a great position to help children heal from a traumatic experience by seeking more information about life at home by asking “what happened” and providing the loving care and attention all children deserve…sooner than later…
Staged Reading of Riva Beside Me, by Carla Perry… Quote from this website Lincoln County Dispatch… “The novel, “Riva Beside Me: New York City 1963-1966,” is based on real life, growing up in Manhattan in a dysfunctional family. But the story is one of transition and hope, where humor and love prevail. Perry says the story makes it obvious that angels walk among us.”
My wife, Judy, pulled me away from a lazy day at home, and gave me a wonderful and heartwarming surprise… the staged reading of Riva Beside Me by Carla Perry (order book on my sidebar from Amazon.) at Café Mundo, Newport, Oregon. Carla is a close friend of ours so the performance was even more special. Judy read her book as well, and loved it! No more procrastination on my part now… I have to find out about the ending since the staged reading performance included excerpts from about 60% of the book.
The performance by the cast, especially the character of “the mother” by KE Edmisten, triggered painful memories of my own toxic childhood growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. I was moved and visibly shaken until my empathy and compassion kicked in for the dysfunctional circumstances surrounding Carla’s childhood. I could see my own family in a reality show on stage during the performance…it was both cathartic and healing…
Before researching and writing my own non-fiction story, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, there was hate in my heart for decades from experiencing child abuse and emotional neglect. The hate is now gone, and my journey of healing has taken over completely. Once we let go of the anger and hate connected with a traumatic experience or event, we are able to forgive and move on. Carla Perry and I are both survivors and battle buddies in life after trauma. Thank you, Carla Perry, for your friendship and for helping others find their own path of healing. You and the cast of the staged reading of your novel, Riva Beside Me, is now included on my bucket list of most grateful and treasured memories in life.
“Shame is one of the most unhelpful emotions you can experience. To live in shame is to live in a world of destructive internal dialogue and to perceive that others think this negatively about you too. It can also mean you are extremely self conscious, and this negative self awareness fills your thoughts and actions. You may feel there is something intrinsically wrong with you, and that other people will also find you somewhat unattractive and undesirable. These powerful feelings can spill into many different areas of your life.”
My own family dynamics, as a military child growing up in a post WWII and Korean War home, was centered in shame…”shame on you and shame on me!” My parents built a complete culture of control and abuse around making us siblings feel shame. The Catholic Church at the time made it easier for our parents to reinforce the shame we felt all the time. We went to confession every Saturday and then communion on Sunday to rid our minds of all the shameful things we did. We were commanded to seek forgiveness or live with mortal sin and the prospect of going straight to hell.
All the shame never left my soul completely, but after leaving home at age 17 to join the US Navy, I started to learn about breaking away from shame. I found out about typical and normal human behavior by engaging with others outside of my home as an adult. I discovered a more healthy perspective about religion, including the Catholic Church, and actually started liking myself. It was very difficult to trust others at first, until it was proven without a doubt that I was really an okay dude. I was afraid of young women for the most part until finding girlfriends along the way that treated me with respect and built trusting friendships. I found male companionship and mentorship through my work in the Navy, and in surfing with my buddies. I learned about trust for the first time in my life. This was the beginning of a very long work in progress and ultimately finding my voice and self-confidence by trusting and engaging with others. Although it was not an easy road with personal challenges, I managed to carve out a very successful and rewarding professional career. It was not until the prime age of 64 and in retirement that my journey of healing finally took hold when researching and writing my book along with starting this blog.
These days the persistent “destructive self dialogue” is no longer in control. Sure, there are triggers and flashbacks that put me back in the “shame box” briefly, but I now know how to break away. The solution and treatment that works best for me is writing this blog, speaking about my book, and participating in appropriate forums that go a long way to keep the pain of shame and guilt at a safe distance most of the time. The hard work of recovery pays off in the end when as survivors of an abusive childhood and traumatic life experiences, we begin to thrive again living a life of joy and happiness with yourself and those around you… It is never too late to start the journey of healing from invisible wounds…