By Steve Simpson
“The first reason is I know that I could be better in school. I know I mess up at home. The clothes I wear. The way I have my hair. The attitude I have. The trouble that I get in. I bring it on myself. If I were a better person these things probably wouldn’t happen to me. Ever since I can remember, I have been told by my parents that all the problems at home are my fault. People have it worse than I do.” These are the thoughts of many who are being abused and the first reasons why they won’t report it.
What I discovered was that even children who do fantastic in school, never get in any trouble, and do everything “right” still get abused by their parents or abusive adults in their home. Their parents even called them the same names as me and they were model children. I’ve found it has nothing to do with the way I act at all. It has nothing to do with who I was. It has nothing to do with the children. It has to do with the adults. Child abuse and discipline have nothing to do with each other. People who abuse children do it because of their own sickness, be it alcoholism, drug abuse or other problems they have.
“I knew my father or my mother’s boyfriend had no right to abuse me but I always felt that my mother would get in trouble for it.” This is the thought of many abuse victims and the second reason why they don’t report it. Even though they are getting abused they still try to protect the non-abusing/co-dependent parent. What I offer to those children is you would not so much be getting your parent in trouble, but you would be getting them help. Most authorities get them to go to therapy, which would stop that parent from allowing abuse to themselves and others in the future, therefore making their life better. So by protecting yourself you’re actually not getting anyone in trouble but protecting them and getting them help as well. Even the abusive adult could end up getting help as a result of you reporting it. Nobody should abuse you, period!
If you are being abused in any way, sometimes the abuse looks like it’s becoming less frequent. Don’t be fooled by this. It could suddenly pick up again and get worse. It will not stop unless you do something to stop it. Speak to a teacher, guidance counselor, school social worker or psychologist. Counselors from community centers and sometimes even people from local churches will know what to do and how to get you help. You can call Child Protective Services for your local area. Nobody should be abused in any way. You are no exception. You are worth getting help.
Approximately five children die a day as a result of child abuse. For those who suspect child abuse whether it be a relative or neighbor, it always amazes me how people will call 911 simply because someone parked in the wrong spot or put the garbage out on the wrong night, yet they won’t get “involved” in possibly saving a child’s life or at a minimum their childhood (not to mention the problems they will have as an adult as a result of their abuse). As responsible people we are already “involved”.
If you suspect child abuse it probably does exist. Don’t make excuses or protect and enable the abuser. Protect who you are supposed to protect, the children.
Steve Simpson is a child advocate, child abuse survivor and media commentator who just released “The Teenage and Young Adult Survival Handbook,” from which the above is excerpted. It’s a small guide modestly tucked inside in all four of his YA adventure novels which covers most of the topics plaguing young people today—suicide, bullying, sexual abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, self-worth, being the child of an addict, living in a dysfunctional home, surviving school and more. Simpson was recognized by President Barack Obama, former New York governor David Paterson and the County Executive of Nassau County for his efforts on behalf of abused children.