In answer to the question, “What are the short term and long term effects of child abuse and what can the concerned do about it?” I have very much to say.
Let me tell you a short story of a little girl who was emotionally abused by her mother and sexually abused by her father. Her father returned home from a 3 years post in the army. He left when she was 9 months old and returned when she was 4. He brought with him a big stuffed panda and stuffed French poodle for her. Shortly thereafter, he began an inappropriate relationship with her little self. During the same time, her mother began the emotional abuse of calling her names and disciplining her using fear tactics.
How do I know about this little girl? I know because I am her. For me, the short-term effects included becoming very passive and losing touch with my creativity. I did pretty well in school because I didn’t have my mother there (she didn’t really care if I did well or not) but my love for writing and art suffered.
I was very unsure of myself in social situations. I was afraid of a lot of physical activities. I married someone I didn’t even like, because I was afraid no one would want me. My self-esteem was in the basement. I developed an eating disorder. I had jobs well below my capability. Eventually, the negativity manifested itself physically and caused major distress in my body. Bottom line, my early abuse has led to long-term health issues.
I was a child in a time when people didn’t tell and certainly didn’t tell on each other. I often wondered if anyone knew what was happening only to learn from a recently reestablished relationship that her parents were worried about me. I am grateful for their concern, but I wonder why they didn’t do anything about their suspicions.
Today there are agencies that can be contacted – even anonymously— so that there is more protection for kids. If you suspect or know that abuse is happening to any children you know, be brave for them and report it. Hopefully, your suspicions are wrong and everything is ok, but if there truly is something wrong, there is a good chance you may be the reason a child gets help.
If you are wondering what to do about any abuse you received as a child or even as an adult, I strongly recommend you get help from a therapist, support group or life coach who is knowledgeable on this topic. You can improve your life dramatically with the right help. You are worth it!