One of the worst things a parent can endure is seeing their own child (or someone else’s child) abused, whether physically, emotionally, or sexually.

As rare as we want to believe this phenomenon is, studies show that as many as one in four girls, and one in eight boys, is victim to some form of child abuse.

Doctors and teachers are mandatory reporters and must report any instance of suspected child abuse, but this doesn’t always get anywhere.

Children, too, are hesitant to speak out for fear of ridicule or shame. In many cases, the abuse comes from someone in the child’s family, and the child has natural instincts to protect them.

If the abuse can be stopped in childhood, then they’re better for it. But oftentimes, child abuse goes unreported and the children grow up with their childhood abuse.

The scars from childhood abuse are extremely long-lasting and require delicate care in treatment.

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When we are low in self-esteem, have trouble believing in ourselves; have problems knowing who we are and finding things in life that will bring us gratification; find we have serious problems in relating to others and maybe avoiding connections, or are trying too hard to please and are even putting up with people who cannot see us, or hear us for, or are even finding ourselves putting up with verbal, emotional, or physical abuse; or maybe when we do have emotion it is clearly too intense for the situation, or perhaps we cannot seem to access or share our feelings and emotions; or when we find our thoughts are fearful, negative, or self-attacking — we are probably people who were mistreated as children.

Thus, the way we are treated when young and just developing not only makes us miserable as children but seriously impacts: our self-regard or sense of self; our relationships with others; our ability to succeed in work, and generally in our ability to lead a content and satisfactory life as adults.

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It is unfortunate, but probably the majority of people in our society have experienced some type of trauma in their early lives.  It may show up in a variety of ways in not finding satisfactory work or relationships; in finding oneself addicted and feeling out of control; or in powerful emotions or images that seem to overwhelm and not make sense with what causes them to arise (flashbacks); or in finding oneself with a hurtful other.

Talking with a therapist trained to help people with injuries from childhood like Dr. Lynn Winsten in Berkeley will ultimately lead to self-awareness and relief.  It’s not magic that heals or quick fixes either, it is exploring the roots of the distressing feelings that makes the difference for real.

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Many children, adolescents, and adults were subjected to child abuse in some form during their formative years, which is heartbreaking.

Child abuse is defined as “non-accidental trauma or physical injury caused by punching, kicking, beating, biting, burning or otherwise harming a child”.

Some parents justify their violent behavior by saying that it is just discipline, but true abuse can become extremely traumatic to children and stay with them for the rest of their lives.

If you or a loved one experienced trauma or abuse as a child, you can find hope and healing by talking with a child abuse psychotherapist in your area.

Reports of child abuse are handled by the Department of Social Services or Child Protective Services and may or may not become a part of the criminal justice system depending on the severity and frequency of the abuse occurrences.

Sometimes these agencies determine that it is best for the child to be separated from the parent or another adult figure who has perpetrated the abuse and put into group homes or foster care for a certain period of time or until their home situation has changed.

While the intention of foster care and group homes is to provide a safe place for healing and just living a normal life, that is not always the case and it is possible for further trauma to occur here.

Children who have suffered abuse might struggle to pinpoint the root of their childhood trauma because they might have suppressed their memories or they could have developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The effects of PTSD can follow children into adulthood, but talking with a licensed therapist specializing in childhood trauma and PTSD can provide a path to healing. Some of the factors that contribute to PTSD are:

  • Degree of perceived personal threat
  • The developmental state of the child (younger children cannot understand and interpret the effects of the traumatic situation as easily as older children)
  • The relationship of the victim to the perpetrator
  • The level of emotional support the victim has in his day-to-day life
  • A feeling of responsibility for the attack is thought to exacerbate the changes of PTSD
  • The innate ability to cope
  • An elevated heart rate post abuse increases the likelihood that the victim will suffer from PTSD

Reaching out to a therapist for childhood abuse and PTSD counseling will help to reduce the effects of trauma and help the child or adult suffering to return to normal life.

There is hope and healing is possible, no matter how deep the wounds. There are people like Dr. Lynn Winsten in Berkeley who you can trust with your story.