Can children mistake sodomizing for a whipping?

by Annetta
(Slater, Missouri, USA)

I wish people knew that a sign that a child is being sexually abused is: They are scared to death of a whipping from someone in particular.


It seems that children think they are being whipped when they are actually being sodomized. Is this true? My nephew was scared to death of a whipping from my sister's boyfriend. He said that the boyfriend would lay him on the carpet and pull his pants down and whip him so hard and hurt him so bad. He was three years old at the time. My niece was scared to death of a whipping from her uncle on her dad's side of her family. She said he would take her in the bedroom and whip her. She was three years old at the time.

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Is Witnessing Abuse Considered Child Abuse?

by Anonymous
(Minnesota, USA)

When I was little my dad would become mad and punch holes in walls and doors. He would also abuse my brother by grabbing, shaking, yelling, and holding him off his feet against the wall. These things were never aimed at me, but now, whenever he's mad, I'm afraid he's going to hit me (even though he never does). Was (is) this a form of abuse?

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Was I sexually abused?

by Raz
(England, UK)

I Need Some Information: 
I think I was sexually abused as a child, from 8 onwards.
I dunno if these count as sexual abuse, but I've been touched, rubbed, kissed, asked for oral sex. At that age, I didn't know what was going on. I still don't. I'm 18 now, and I still think it's my fault. I haven't told anyone. I need some advice. Does the above mean I was abused?

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Is it 'normal' to need to constantly be told it wasn't my fault?

by A
(South Carolina, USA)

Is it normal for me to feel the constant need to be told that I didn't ask for this life? That what my dad did wasn't my fault, and that I didn't want it to happen?? Do you think it's because I could never get my mom to listen to me?

Note from Darlene: My answer to this Ask Darlene question "Is it 'normal' to need to constantly be told it wasn't my fault?" can be found below. Please be patient if the reply I've given does not yet appear live, as there is currently a system glitch that is causing lengthy delays on some comments. I thank you for you patience.

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Purposely wedging underwear: Is it a sign of sexual abuse?

by Tammy
(Tampa, Florida, USA)

Fear: 
I want to know why a child would pull their underwear between their butt cheeks and or vagina? Myself and my older sister did this as children/young adults and I just saw my 7-year-old son doing it. I am fearful to what the answer to this will be. I feel I was abused as a child but don't remember anything. Please give me some advice.

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Failing Marriage: Is the childhood abuse my husband endured the reason?

by Name Undisclosed
(USA)

Darlene,
I have been married to my husband for 28 years. I told him I loved him on our 1st date, got engaged 5 wks later, & married him 6 months later because I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. He came into our marriage with only a suitcase and his high school football jacket. He was 19 years old then. We have 3 children. The 2 oldest are now married. Our youngest daughter will be 18 soon.

My husband has recently admitted to me & to a verbal abuse "coach" that he has been verbally abusive to me, controlling, pushed me out of his life, etc. He is working with the "coach" by phone to improve his dialog with me.

Two weeks ago he admitted to me that he was emotionally, verbally, and physically abused by both of his parents. I don't know what age this abuse took place and if what he shared with me is the full extent of his abuse. He is 47 years old. He said his father continually put him down and demeaned him. Told him he would never amount to anything & beat him to the extent that his head bled. I don't know to what extent.

He told me his mother tried to protect him from his father's continual abuse, but she beat him, too. He told me of 1 incident of when she beat his legs with a belt so bad that they bled & then she cried "My baby, what have I done?"

He told me his mother left him & his father for his father's best friend & his father had to travel across the country to California to retrieve her & return her home.

I have always been made to feel that no matter how his parents treated me or dictated our lives as a couple or any issues involving their grandchildren (our children) that I was the one that needed changing. Yes, I have grown resentful. I didn't meet his family until after he asked me to marry him. He tends to put them on a pedestal, especially his mother.

I am angry now that he knowingly put our 3 children in jeopardy and harms way during the times they stayed with their grandparents for at least a week at a time during their growing up years when we went out of town on vacations and business trips. His mother told me she had to spank my children at times.

Our marriage has gone from a fairy tale to a nightmare. I still love him & I cried with him and for him when he told me about the abuse. I suspect my husband has many things he is hiding from me & his children in order to protect the image he has created in our community as a church leader, religious leader & a powerful, much-respected businessman. We are somewhat wealthy by the world's standards, but I am so unhappy. I have been advised to get self-esteem counseling.

He continues to tell me constantly that I am crazy, has implied things about me to our children, and directs comments to me that devalue me as a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend and even as a woman business owner. And to beat all...I still love him & I want to make some sense of all this madness. My heart is broken. But I have had to retain a lawyer & I have made the call to put a legal separation into place next week. I suspect he may be drinking secretly (he doesn't drink at all) & I am also afraid that he may be involved in an emotional, if not sexual, affair. He has closed 3 times as many business deals (multimillion dollar) in 2007 as he did in 2006, plus we have had 2 children marry in the past 12 months. We both have been under a lot of stress to say the least.

What can I do, when I get over the bitterness & resentment, & tremendous feelings of guilt over my marriage ending to help him? Could any of what we are going through & how he has tried to destroy me personally be stemming through what he experienced as a child? I know he is seeking counseling, but I really don't think he would share this with even his counselor.

Despite it all he is my best friend. He is diabetic, too. And that is a whole other story. I am heartbroken and feel like I have always felt - I want to still protect him. Or have I just enabled him all these years and contributed to the problem that was bound to erupt into the hell that is taking place now in our lives? If you are a spiritual person, please pray for me and my precious husband and children. I am really struggling spiritually because of his position & because of the public image he has, and how it is going to trickle down and affect everyone whose lives we have touched throughout our 28 years together. I welcome your thoughts.

Note from Darlene: To the person, Name Undisclosed, who wrote this question last week (May 31, 2008), the system glitch regarding some comments not going live has resulted in the necessity to temporarily suspend answering questions through this page. While the glitch has not yet been fully remedied, I've decided to post the contribution in an effort to let you know that I've not ignored you.

If you cannot see below, the answer I've provided to this Ask Darlene question "Failing Marriage: Is the childhood abuse my husband endured the reason?" rest assured, it is in queue. I posted my comments June 4, 2008, titled "Childhood abuse and a failing marriage..." Keep checking back to this page. I thank you and my other visitors for your understanding while I work at getting this minor malfunction rectified.


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Is this incest and or child abuse?

by Daniel
(New Jersey, USA)

I was molested 23 years ago by a stepbrother. I was 10, he was almost 13. He forced me many times over the course of a 2-3 year period to have intercourse with him. Was this abuse, per definition? Was this incest or just molestation because it involved minors?

D.

Reply from Darlene: Daniel, I'm very sorry to learn that you were molested. I hope you are in some form of counselling to help you with the emotional trauma of being abused, as well as deal with feelings of betrayal and abandonment at having parents or caregivers who did nothing to stop it and protect you.

As for your questions, I cannot speak to the laws of where you live regarding what would constitute incestuous sex abuse, but typically, stepsiblings do not fall into the category of incest. However, your stepbrother DID sexually abuse you, and even though he was only 2-3 years older than you at the time, it does constitute child abuse.

Three pages on my website that you may find helpful with regard to your questions are:



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What kind of abuse is this?

by LLS
(Buffalo, New York, USA)

I am writing an autobiography that includes the abuses in the family. My mom was a schizophrenic. I want to know what you would classify this following abuse as:

I was in second grade. The teacher told my mother that I favored a boy. My mother wouldn't allow me to talk to other kids in school, nor would she allow me to have friends. When we got home, she whipped me and put my feet over my head. She forced her finger in and out of my vagina, hurting me. She said that this is what boys do when you tell them you love them. She said they hurt you. She did this to get me to lose interest in boys. She whipped me with a belt if I made noise. She said she only did it because she loved me and she didn't want any boy to fool me and later hurt me.

Is this incest, molestation, or sexual abuse?

Thanks
L

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Why do some abused people commit abuse and some don't?

by Anonymous
(Daytona Beach, Florida, USA)

Statistics indicate the person who commits sexual abuse and other types of abuse is likely to have been abused as a child. What accounts for the difference of why some people go on to commit abuse while others do not?

Is there a statistic that indicates what percentage of people who were sexually abused as children do not go on to abuse others? And, if so is there an indication or theory of why some do go on to commit abuse themselves while others do not?

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Is severe shyness a symptom of child abuse?

by A friend
(Canada)

I'm curious. Is there a difference between severe shyness and the symptoms associated with child abuse? What is considered normal for an extremely shy child? Very shy-almost withdrawn, extremely clingy around adults-period, except the father. Rocks and sucks a blankey when anxious in social situations, and just recently cries when it's time to go home. Does this sound normal to you? Like an extremely shy child or possible signs that something might be going on?

Thanx
A friend

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Very confused about whether or not I was abused?

by A
(USA)

Darlene,
This is probably a post you won't see very often, and I feel very weird posting it, but finally I found a place I could ask this question and not have someone judge me.

As far as I can remember, I was not abused growing up. I did have a few incidents a few years ago, but that does not relate to my problem. My problem is that I am obsessed with the thought that someone has hurt me and I don't know who, when, or why. I've had this feeling since as long as I can remember.

I am 19 now. I work at daycare centers for a living and plan to work with children for the rest of my life, and I can't help but constantly worry about each and every child, wondering if they are being abused. I used to hurt myself as a young child.

When I was in 8th grade, I told my boyfriend that I was being abused, when I wasn't; however, I started to make myself believe I was. Basically, I have no recollection of being hurt as a child, but I truly believe I have been because of my constant negative thoughts.

I'm always thinking that something is wrong with me for always thinking negatively, being worried, having strange fears. I've had nightmares of strange occurrences. My boyfriend tells me I have strange tendencies and that I am scared of very weird things (like my face being covered or someone having physical power over me) and he doesn't know why. I did grow up with an emotionally abusive mother, however, constantly getting angry at me for little things, and I do know that was hard. But I feel like that isn't even the half of it. I'm constantly in need of attention-good or bad. I feel the urge to tell my closest companions that I've been abused, even though I don't know that I have been. I'm sad when I'm alone. Songs about abuse make me cry...can you help me figure this out? Am I crazy?
Signed,
A

Note from Darlene: My answer to this Ask Darlene question "Very confused about whether or not I was abused?" can be found below. If you do not see the comments I've written, please be patient, as there is a system glitch regarding comments going live on my site. I replied to your query June 6, 2008, comments titled "Crazy does not apply here..." Keep checking back to this page. I thank you and my other visitors for your understanding while I work at getting this minor malfunction rectified.

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Was masturbating in childhood a sign that I was sexually abused?

by Confused
(New South Wales, Australia)

I am a 34-year-old (will be 35 this year) a female in New South Wales. Over the years, I've been experiencing strange memories of my past, and I do not know whether they are fact or fiction. I am scared as hell. What I am saying is that since age 3, (the max I can identify) I used to masturbate a lot. It felt quite good, but at the same time, I felt horrible and sick. My mother caught me and I was terribly embarrassed by it, but she said it was disgusting what I was doing.

I've suffered chronic depression since I was a young child. I would sleep and sometimes hide for comfort and security.

I recently completed my exam on child protection. Since then I have not been able to get this experience out of my head. Every time I remember it, I question myself. Had I been sexually abused? It's very confusing. What I do remember is sitting on my parents' bed on my own and feeling weird and very confused.

I am a smart and intelligent woman. I have three wonderful boys in my life now. I know I am not crazy, but the feeling and thinking about it, is making me crazy.

This is all I can really explain at this time. What is the best thing I can do for myself so that I can be saved a future of resentment?

Reply from Darlene: Whether or not you were sexually abused as a child, I cannot say. It's not unusual for a life situation to trigger something from your past. Sometimes a particular or partial memory is recalled, sometimes full memory surfaces, and sometimes the situation prompts a flashback or a series of flashbacks, often times the person experiences a host of seemingly irrational emotions that don't correspond with any particular memory. These emotions can take the form of fear, anxiety, a sense of dread, etc. Sometimes a smell, a taste, or even a sound or touch can further trigger emotions and recall.

But I would be remiss if I didn't address the issue of your child protection exam and the training that must have come before it. Your professor, teacher, or instructor had a duty of care to identify to your class of students, even before instructions began, that the material you were about to cover could lead to disclosures and/or memories of child abuse that had been previously repressed. The instructor should have at that time made it quite clear what course of action a student in that situation should take; namely, some form of counselling. When I took my child abuse training with the Canadian Red Cross, my instructor stated she would temporarily shut down training if one of us were in this situation, and she would further provide resources to that student. The fact that you don't know what to do now that these memories and feelings have emerged tells me a change needs to happen with regard to future child protection classes.

Remainder of my reply to this Ask Darlene question "Was masturbating in childhood a sign that I was sexually abused?" can be found below.

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Why am I only now bothered by possible past sexual abuse?

by Megan
(New York, USA)

I'm really confused as to whether I was actually molested when I was a child. There were two completely unrelated incidences, and they never bothered me until about a week ago. In fact, I didn't really remember them until about a year ago.

When I was five years old, my 9-year-old female neighbor took naked pictures of me, mostly close ups of my private areas. I felt a little uncomfortable, but I never told her to stop or anything so I don't know.

And the other case was when I was 9 years old. My brother asked me to touch his penis, and I did. I also remember touching his balls for a while, and it didn't bother me. He was four years older than me, and should have known it was wrong. But at the time, I didn't mind or say no or get mad.

Do these incidences count as being molested? And why does it suddenly bother me when I'm 15 years old?

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Ear infections as a sign of sexual abuse?

by Kay
(Indianapolis, USA)

I was reading the list of physical signs for sexual abuse. One of the signs listed was "ear infections/problems/" Can you tell me why this occurs?

Thanks
Kay

Reply from Darlene: Kay, the list you refer to on my sexual abuse signs page identifies "signs," not conclusive evidence. The fact that a child suffers recurrent ear infections does not necessarily mean he/she was molested.

Ear infections are very common in children, as well as infants. The Eustachian tube connects the middle ear with the throat and nose. In children, this tube is very small and is at an angle that can inhibit proper drainage. The size and orientation of the tube puts children at risk for ear infections. As the child grows, the tube changes direction, which does allow for proper drainage, which in turn means that ear infections are far less evident in older children.

Having said that, the reason ear infections/problems is a sign of sexual child abuse is a disturbing one. So please be prepared for what I am about to say.

When children are forced to perform oral sex, bacteria can develop at the back of the throat and/or nose, and thus cause ear infections/problems. But Kay, it's imperative that a combination of signs—both physical and emotional—be taken into account when determining whether or not sexual child abuse occurred and to what degree.

If you know or suspect a child is being (or was) sexually assaulted, report it to the proper authorities. But please do not assume that the child is being molested on the sole basis of recurring ear infections.

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Is diaper discipline child abuse?

by Ronald F
(Birmingham, Alabama, USA)

I know of some children who receive diaper discipline as punishment. One boy, now 17, has been in diapers since he was 12. Is this legal; is it not abuse?

Reply from Darlene regarding your question about diaper discipline: In the state of Alabama, whether or not "diapering" an adolescent as a form of punishment is actually illegal in and of itself, I couldn't say. What I can say is that diapering a teenager would be considered emotional child abuse. The adolescent you referred to will likely be scarred for life because of this form of punishment.

He is way past the age of wearing diapers. He's being treated as a small child, which falls under the emotional abuse category of rejecting. You didn't say whether or not the 17-year-old boy must wear a diaper in public. If he is being made to do so, ridiculing a youth in public would fall under the emotional abuse category of terrorizing. Either way, diapering this boy is humiliating, and cruel and unusual punishment.

Since no details were included about how this teenage boy is diapered, or if he's made to urinate and defecate in the diaper and forced to wear the soiled diaper, there's no way to say whether or not any other form of abuse is taking place, such as neglect, physical abuse or sexual abuse.

This 17-year-old boy should disclose to CPS what he is being forced to endure. If he doesn't feel comfortable disclosing, I would strongly urge him to contact Child Help at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) so that he can talk to a professionally trained counsellor, someone who can lend an ear and offer support.

A Video Reading by Darlene Barriere
Darlene Barriere
Webmaster: www.child-abuse-effects.com
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir


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Bruising on my stepdaughter; a cause for concern?

by Name Undisclosed
(USA)

My step-daughter visited us over the Spring break and had bruises on her back. They were not there when we returned her on 1/1/08. There were 6 marks, one on each of her shoulder blades and 2 directly underneath her shoulder blade to under her arms. The 2 on her shoulder blade looked like they were thumb prints and the 4 under the shoulder blade looked like they could be from fingers. We took her to the doctor and he asked her if anyone beats her. She said "no" to him. He agreed the upper marks looked like thumbprints, but dismissed it to hyper-pigmentation. They are like carbon-copied marks on both sides of her back. She told me that her mother beats her badly with a belt, but told someone else that she does so "lightly." Her mother claimed they were marks from eczema from when she was a year old. My step-daughter first said she didn't know about them, then she knew about them and her mother was going to bring her to her doctor, then it could have been when she backed into the door knob, to finally agreeing with her mom that it was eczema.

What should we do? Her behavior has changed with this last visit. She is withdrawn. Her appetite was back to normal after being here for 3 days. She didn't want her father in her room, despite me and her brother being in there. She kept kicking my pre-teen son in his private area and would use "it was by accident" as an excuse. The "accident" stopped when I told her if it happens again she will be grounded.

Are we just reading into nothing or do we need to seek assistance?

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Is it child abuse if I'm not bruised or injured?

by Name Undisclosed
(USA)

I don't know if my situation is considered abuse. My mom slaps me in the face when she is angry, she punches me in the arm and back, and pulls my hair. Sometimes they leave bruises but more often they leave red marks that go away after a few hours or possibly a day. She is mean and curses at me and I am pretty sure she follows the emotional abuse one, but I don't know about physical. I am 15 now but it's been happening since 5th grade. I am in 10th grade now. In 7th grade I got a black eye from her throwing a lunch box at me. She throws other objects at me as well. I read websites to find out what abuse is and it say bruises and injury which I usually don't get.

Do you think it is abuse? What should I do? My parents are divorced but I am afraid if I tell my dad he wouldn't believe me because he doesn't live with me. I have a brother who lives with me but he never sees it happen because he is always gone when it happens. My brother does not have this happen to him. My brother loves my mom and wants to live with her.

If this is abuse I am scared It would make me and my brother get taken away from my mom. I know my brother likes it here so I would feel bad if he had to go since he is safe. What would happen if I tell? Would I automatically be placed with my father? Would my brother go too? Would the people believe me if I don't have bruising proof to show them? I don't bruise easily. What would happen to my mother, the one how is doing this? Can I please have your advice on this situation.

Thxs

Reply from Darlene: Physical injury or bruising does not have to be present for actions to be considered physical child abuse. If you read through the page on this site titled physical child abuse you'll find that the definition includes may result in physical injury.

You said your mother slaps you in the face, she punches you in the arm and back, and she pulls your hair. What she is doing is NOT discipline, it is child abuse. Out of anger, your mother could cause serious harm to you; degree of force used is an issue. Whether or not it fits the legal definition depends on the State in which you live. The sad reality is that when bruising and injuries are present, child abuse is much easier to prove.

Remainder of reply from Darlene to this Ask Darlene question "Is it child abuse if I'm not bruised?" can be found below.

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Am I a child neglecter?

by Alecia
(Kentucky, USA)

I am a young mother of four who has been in and out of college, getting closer to getting my degree in child psychology, a great passion of mine. I am only 27.

Early last year, the relationship of 8 years between the child's father and I ended in a blow-up, maybe worse than any of the abuse before. I have been abused my whole life, and never tried to play the victim role. I try to be strong. I have always felt I had to be. We are now staying with my new fiancé, who is the BEST for my children and for me. He knows my children are my top priority. Living with his parents, they say I am a child neglecter.

I have been my children's only security blanket and their best friend, even though they are young. I work from home, doing surveys and eBay, while also helping with children's homework, reading to them, playing with them, and feeding them three square meals a day...keeping up with household chores. They do not like me because when, in the past, their son and I had problems, they heard the negative side of our relationship that he had admittedly but unintentionally exaggerated and/or misconstrued, so they see me as controlling and pulling wool over his eyes when, in all actuality, he and I are the best of friends and have been able to work through so many things...his previous porn addiction that worsened the trust issues I have always had, due to much of my past, my bipolar disorder/manic depression/anxiety, living situations, etc.

I have no friends or social outlet or support system here, so I do occasionally talk to people online...and it boosts my self-esteem. We have a huge bedroom. The kids have separate, but often times they stay in here with me and play games, read, watch movies, and play games with me on the computer...to where we can still feel like a separate unit, while I still struggle to contribute to necessary duties in the house. Plus, his mother has 30 cats and it stinks. They say what I am doing is child neglect and they have slandered me to other people who do not know me and then meet me and treat me like a bad mother. It aggravated my son and daughter, the oldest, to hear my fiancé's father say he knows I don't give a shit about my kids and I am a bad mother who talks to them about everything when they are too damn little for that. I disagree.

My biggest question is, is this child neglect? I talk to them about every problem on their level in terms and on an emotional line that they can grasp. I comfort them. I listen to them. I spend time with them. Just because I take "me" time, they believe I am a bad parent and they say I make them sick. My fiancé does not feel that way.

I emailed a survey for honest answers to friends, family, and acquaintances to see what they thought about several issues brought up because I know the majority are honest and open-minded people. They (my fiancé's parents) took that as an insult.

So, two questions: Is this child neglect? And, with everything I am saying as 100% truth, am I a bad parent in your professional opinion? I was told by a clinician that in no way am I a child neglecter, ethically or legally, and that my children and I have an obvious bond that many seem not to have. That, in itself, improves my self-esteem. I just want as many opinions as possible, especially unbiased ones.

Thanks so much!

Reply from Darlene: Alecia, I commend you for taking steps to further your education and to better yourself and the life of your children. I believe you have nothing but the best of intentions for you and your children. It can't be easy, under the circumstances. And it certainly can't be a cake-walk living with the constant criticism of your future in-laws. Having said that, you asked for my opinion, so I will give it; but it's not the answer you were expecting.

Alecia, I do not believe your question is about whether or not you are a child neglecter. This has very little to do with your children. It has everything to do with you. Your question is about getting strokes for the job you are doing. By your own admission, you have already asked others about their thoughts on this matter. By your own admission, you want "as many opinions as possible." Translation: as many people telling you how good you are as possible.

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No memory of childhood: Is this common?

by Bernadette
(Ireland)

I'm 23. I was abused as a child by a male neighbour. I know I was young when it started, around 5 I think, and it stopped when I was 11, but yet I can not remember much of it. In fact, I can't remember much of anything. I seem to have blocked my childhood all out. Whenever my family get together and talk about things we did years ago and places we went, I don't recall any of them. Sometimes I get bits and pieces, but not much. I've never told any of my family about this, and don't think I can. Is this common or am I just losing my mind?

Thank You:
Bernadette H

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Is This Neglect or Poverty?

by Michelle
(Edmonton, Alberta, Canada)

I'm pretty sure that these are indeed a form of child abuse/neglect:

  1. Clothes that are too small, smelly, filthy and worn for days.

  2. Inadequate lunches, which include nothing more than 2 slices of white bread.
I am very concerned and am not sure of the steps that need to be taken. There has been documentation, but no other steps have been taken.

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Indecent exposure - result of child molestation?

by Chelsie
(USA)

My boyfriend of three years just went to jail for indecent exposure. I was shocked and confused. He has never shown any type of behavior like this.

After I bailed him out, I repeatedly asked him why?

His father molested his older sister and I've always wondered if he was too.

He broke down in tears and told me he was molested. However, not by his father. By a stranger. While walking home from school when he was 13 years old, a man in a car offered him a ride home. My boyfriend thought it was strange but got in the car. The man asked him if he watched porn, and my boyfriend said yes. Then the man started touching him. My boyfriend was scared and couldn't move. After a while my boyfriend yelled and the man told him to get out of the car. Then, my boyfriend's male cousin, would get him to play with his penis. And around the same time, his father was molesting his sister.

He has never told anyone.

I told him we would get him into counselling.

Can him exposing himself to others be a result of abuse?

I am also worried about him killing himself...please help me!

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Could I have been sexually abused as a child?

by Amandalynne R
(Silver Springs, Nevada, USA)

Dear Darlene,
Recently, my mother came back to visit. I had asked her once if I was sexually abused by one of her boyfriends, referring to her boyfriend at the time when I was between 2-3 years of age. I have no memory of him, but I've seen pictures of him and me together. She told me that she would never put me in harms way. The way I acted when I was a kid, making my dolls have sex, and me playing a sexual game with a girl who was my age, and recently having a fear of men? I'm now 20 years old. This is leading me to wonder: Was I was sexually abused as a child?

Note from Darlene: My answer to this Ask Darlene question "Could I have been sexually abused as a child?" can be found below. If you do not see the comments I've written, please be patient, as there is a system glitch regarding comments going live on my site. Amandalynne, I replied to your query June 7, 2008, comments titled "I cannot give you a yes or no reply..." Keep checking back to this page. I thank you Amandalynne and my other visitors for your understanding while I work at getting this minor malfunction rectified.

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Am I scarring my daughter with emotional abuse?

by J
(USA)

What am I doing? 
I don't know if this is considered emotional abuse or not. But, I am doing it and really want to stop. I have no clue why I treat my daughter this way, but I have tried to stop and it just keeps happening.

I have three daughters. They are 10 years old, 3 years old and 1 month old. My younger two I had with my husband, my oldest I had with my ex husband. I was pregnant with my oldest daughter when I was in high school, but I finished half a year early so I would be done with school before she was born. I was not married when she was born, but I got married about 4 months after. I left my ex husband when she was 11 months old. He was physically abusive, which was not what I was used to at all, so I left him immediately.

I was fine with my daughter for a long time. She was the only good thing in my life when I was married to my ex. When I left him, I got a job and was going to college full time. I continued to do this, even after I married my new husband, until I got my degree. While I was doing this, my oldest daughter spent most of her time with my parents. I lived with them too, but I was either at work or school most of the time. Also, I started going out with a friend of mine a lot, so I was not around on weekends that much. And when I was I was so tired, (I think I was really depressed) I usually slept.

I think I started to resent her because of how hard I had to work and all the things I would never get to do. Like go to college away from home or have my own apartment all to myself. I also think the things my ex husband did really affected me, and I don't know for sure, but I think her being his daughter kind of made me think of it more...or I really don't know.

I do things like, if she asks me a question I will ignore her. The other day she went to kiss the baby and her hair brushing on my arm grossed me out. I am not really affectionate toward her, but I am to my other daughters. I don't scream at her or call her names, but when I speak to her it is very short and choppy...basically really rude.

The other day I thought to myself, if my mom had ever treated me this way, I would cry every single day. I sometimes hear the things I say to her and I cringe inside. I immediately wish I could take it back. I know I am doing irreparable damage here, but I don't know how to stop. I always suspect her of things, whether she did them or not. Or, if something happens, I think she did it on purpose out of spite (something I could see my ex doing).

Another thing I have noticed is, the closer it gets for my ex to visit with her (he sees her only once a year) the better our relationship gets. At those times, I can talk to her and be nice. I think having to talk to him on the phone reminds me that she is not him or something.

I really want to stop acting this way. I have tried many things and nothing is working. Can you tell me what to do? And, what am I doing to my daughter? I am worried I am scarring her for life, and I really don't want to do that at all.

Reply from Darlene: J, I commend you for reaching out in this way; it is the first step toward exacting change in your daughter's life. Having said that, my reply is intended to help both you and your daughter. Please understand that before you read further.

You ARE scarring your daughter. In terms of self-esteem, emotional abuse is the WORST of the abuses. Your actions are telling your daughter that you wished she had never been born. You don't actually have to say that; she already feels it. She believes she is to blame for the way you treat her. She knows you treat your other daughters well. She knows you've targeted her for abuse. Children are extremely intuitive. She can read your body language and your tone, and mostly, your demeanour toward her. She believes ALL of it is her fault. She knows that you compare her to her father and that you don't like him. She now believes she's flawed because of the way you feel about your ex; when a parent demeans a child's other parent, they demean the child's DNA and thus the child. Children believe they are responsible for all that is wrong in their lives and those around them. That is the nature of children.

J, by our own admission, you have both rejected and ignored your daughter in ways that will live with her for a very long time.

But it's not all bad news...you CAN change, and thus change the outcome...

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A Question About Involuntary Sexual Arousal

by Anonymous
(Australia)

A long time ago, I came across a story of a South African woman who had been sexually abused by her grandfather for years. As she recounted the events, she admitted to being aroused, obviously not by choice as she stated that it clearly sickened her. I then became very curious, as I too have had a similar problem.

I was sexually abused as a child. Within the last year or so, I have been feeling aroused as I thought about my abuse. It is the most sickening feeling, and I am definitely not seeking sexual attention while it's happening. I've had to train myself and find a method to send those unwanted physical feelings away. It isn't as strong anymore.

My question: Why does this happen, and how do you make it go away? Please aid me with some kind of understanding of this condition and how common it is.

Thank you

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Is my sister in denial?

by Linda T
(Town Creek, Alabama, USA)

Is my sister being abused when her husband talks down to her like she is a three-year-old? After he does this, she starts telling him how wonderful he is. How he is better at doing things than other men. I know she lies to him about money she spends. He doesn't want her to have any contact with us, her family. It makes me angry and disgusted the way she lets him treat her this way. Before she married him, she was very outgoing and fun to be around. Now, she doesn't talk much and doesn't go out of her house without his approval. Am I right in being concerned?

Reply from Darlene: Linda, I understand your concern for your sister. While I have provided space for relationship violence stories—which might lead to confusion over what I can and cannot reply to—I've done so because relationship violence relates to couples who are not living together, and that typically affects adolescents. The issue of domestic violence (where the couple is living together) typically affects adults; and as such, is not one I can deal with on this site.

The reason I am posting your query with this reply instead of emailing you directly is because the privacy rules and regulations of SiteSell, the company who powers my site, do not permit me to do so, unless permission is expressly granted. When visitors provide their email addresses using the notification options on the thank you page—such as you did after submitting your question—those automated notification emails are the only ones you will get from me. While I recognize that most of my contributors would not mind if I emailed them directly, in order to remain in good standing with SiteSell, I must and will continue to abide by their rules.

I have replied further to this Ask Darlene question "Is my sister in denial?" below.

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Does this count as child abuse?

by Samantha
(Texas, USA)

If a parent stands by and lets another minor kick you with the back of their boots that have spurs on them, is that considered child abuse? I have four deep bruises that were left on my legs. (I am a 15 year old female and the boy minor who kicked me is 17.) I can take pictures if they would help...

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