It is estimated that annually, three million cases of child abuse are reported to authorities in the United States (source: Childhelp.org). Childhood abuse comes in many forms and can be anything from physical abuse, sexual boundary violations, and neglect of medical and physical needs to emotional and social maltreatment and injustices.
A majority of mental health patients report a history of childhood abuse. Patients often develop addictive coping patterns as a means to mitigate the pain they experienced as a child. They describe ongoing battles with depression and anxiety surrounding the negative childhood experiences they faced. Negative self-talk and a shame-based existence are often ways an individual will operate in the world until they have processed childhood traumas. Whether the abuse was a one-time incidence of inappropriate sexual interaction or ongoing belittling by a parent, the toll abuse takes on a child is significant and is one of the largest epidemics in the nation.
Prevention, intervention, and treatment are the key components when we think about childhood abuse. Offering parenting classes and stress reduction services for parents is an example of ways to decrease abuse rates. When parents feel empowered and are taught effective coping skills to manage their feelings and stress, they are less likely to take out their own distress on their children. Teaching and training coaches, educators, and medical providers, about the potential symptomology of abused children, is an effective approach to intervening. When individuals in children’s lives are made aware of what to look out for, they can be taken out of the circumstances that are detrimental to their well-being.
Treatment options for child abuse can include individual, group, and family therapy using various treatment techniques and therapies. Research continues to show that the earlier the treatment is provided to the individual, the better the outcome. Empowering families to seek out services they might need for their child and providing assistance and access to these services are helpful in mitigating the negative impact that abuse can have on the child’s life.
The Meadows Behavioral Healthcare family of specialized inpatient treatment programs and outpatient services understands the effects of childhood relational trauma. We believe trauma underlies nearly all mental health conditions. Trauma, whether related to addiction, family-of-origin issues or abuse, can reverberate through the many facets of our lives, follow us into adulthood and inhibit us from living in the present. We believe successful treatment combines powerful and unique methodologies that enable support, discovery, and healing. Above all, we believe that healing is possible. Get help today.
Clinical Director, The Meadows Ranch