Comments for Effects of Witnessing Child Abuse

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Nov 14, 2008
TELL someone...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Katie, there can be no secrets when it comes to child abuse. Your friend Venessa was physically abused by her mother that day, and it sounds as though she may be experiencing sexual abuse as well. Tell your parents and/or a teacher or counsellor at school. Your friend may well be in danger. You can't be thinking about whether or not she'll be taken away. Children and youth are seldom removed from the home; removal from the home happens in the worst of cases, so you don't know that she will go somewhere else. What must be your first concern as her friend is her safety. Even if she gets angry at you for telling...ask yourself whether you would rather have her safe or in physical danger. Ask yourself whether or not you'd ever forgive yourself if something bad happened to her and you knew you could have done something to prevent it, but didn't. I know this is a lot to deal with for someone so young; I understand all too well. I've been in your position myself, but when I was a teenager, there were no organizations to call for help. Everybody just turned a blind eye. I urge you to contact Child Help at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) in order to talk to someone about this. They are staffed 24/7 with professionally trained counsellors who will listen to you. They are not a reporting agency, although they can help you through the process of reporting if you decide to disclose the abuse you witnessed.

The effects of witnessing the abuse and the thoughts that have plagued you as you try to figure out what this man was or possibly still is doing to Venessa are traumatizing you, Katie. Talk to someone about this. You deserved help just as much as Venessa does.

Thank you for sharing this with my visitors and me.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

Nov 15, 2008
Reply
by: Katie

This is my problem: I'm 19 now and so is Venessa. We grew apart as we grew older. I've never spoken a word about this to anyone, and now that Venessa's older and has a child of her own, I think it's too late to say anything. I should have spoken up back then, but I was a kid and I just lived with the secret we shared as best friends. I stayed quiet for too long and now I don't think I'll ever be able to help her.

From Darlene: Now that she's an adult, she's the one who must ask for help and be ready to reap the benefits of such help. Don't beat yourself up for what you didn't do as a child. Remember, you were a child, not someone more mature with more mature values. If and when Venessa wants help from you, you'll be ready to be a listening hear. You'll be ready to help her find resources that can help her. Until then, you need to take care of yourself. I urge you to seek out some form of counselling, Katie. A counsellor may be able to help you put things into perspective. Just remember, what happened to Venessa wasn't your fault any more than it was Venessa's fault. Neither of you are to blame for what happened. So stop taking the rap for something you had no control over. Be a good friend to Venessa now and find some purpose behind the effects this witnessing had on you; that's the best you can do.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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this, I do try to balance the need for the submitter to be
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