In the trifecta of abuse categories, physical abuse seems to be the least talked about. Resources abound for sexual abuse and the harmfulness of neglect is understood more now than ever before. Physical abuse being the second highest cause of harm to children, however, is not as talked about.
Physical abuse is the intentional harm inflicted on a person that leaves them hurt or injured. Let’s repeat that: intentional harm.
With the thought of intentional harm inflicted on children comes judgement and shame. People ask, “Who would do something like that?”
What causes an adult to be abusive towards others, including children under their care? Below is a short list of potential reasons an adult has become abusive.
- Experienced abuse themselves as a child.
- Health issues.
- Relationship and family problems.
- Difficulties parentings, including not having an idea how to respond to a child, not understanding a child’s needs, or having unrealistic expectations of a child.
- Behavior or emotional problems, such as controlling anger.
- Ongoing stress that overwhelms adult’s ability to cope.
Pain produces pain. That is the take away from the above list. Abuse towards anyone, especially children, has to stop. If you are an adult who has inflicted harm on a child, or know an adult who is struggling, this is an encouragement to seek help for the pain.
Shame can be debilitating and encourage you to not seek help. Shame can be powerful at prolonging the cycle of abuse. But speaking what is shameful and seeking help firstly for yourself, and also for those who have been hurt by you, is a step towards healing.
-Alexandra Hoerr, MA, LCPC
Child Therapist | LCPC, RPT
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