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The child abuse we don’t always consider

Child Abuse

Just recently the issue of “Child on Child” abuse was raised with me and the comment was “people don’t take it seriously”.  It got me to thinking how difficult this would be to deal with.  Not only do you have a child who has been abused, but another child or children now involved in the abuse.  Who deserves the protection more?

Then today I came across this article Sydney Morning Herald which shocked me even more.  So now I am hearing we don’t have the support mechanisms in place to deal with this effectively, well in NSW at the least.

Fairfax media reported that 30%-50% of sex abuse to children is committed by children.  I don’t know about you but that statistic shocked me.

I find this astounding that I had not realised how prevalent this situation was, which got me to thinking how many children have been abused and then not reported because it was committed by a child.  How many people did not know how to deal with this, or even worse did not believe or support the child who was abused.

The article then redirects you to this Sydney Morning Herald article which goes on to talk about stories and examples where the abuse may not have been dealt with appropriately.

I cannot stress enough if a child tells you that they are being abused (in their words), do not ignore it or use the words “they are only children”.

Do talk to the support networks and find a way that not only supports those who are abused, but also those who may have committed the abuse.  There is no excuse and we are there to protect all children, not just the abused or the abuser.

After all, if you turn the other way, if you make an excuse, you are then telling the abused that is ok (it is not) and telling the abuser that is okay to behave this way (it is not).

Read the articles, become enlightened and if you are in this situation seek the support you and the child/children need, please.  Make a difference and begin the healing and learning process required to support all children.

 

 

 

 

Understanding how abuse impacts the child and you

Ptsd Woman

I have been writing this week about child abuse.  Today I would like to share my thoughts on how child abuse not only impacts the victim, but also everyone involved.

The reason for posting this is it may help with your understanding and ability to provide the necessary support to a child who has just told you they have been abused, or who you suspect is being abused.

First and paramount is how the child may be feeling:

  • Fear that they will get into trouble or won’t be believed
  • Guilt that somehow they caused or encouraged this
  • Shame that it has happened to them and what will people think
  • Hope that someone may be able to help
  • Relief that they have finally spoken up
  • Confused and not knowing what to feel

It is important that when supporting the child you seek professional advice and help as unless you are trained you will not be the best person to support the child in the short term.  However, you can start to talk to the child about what they are feeling and advise them that what they are feeling is normal and there is support to help them through this.

Secondly how you may feel:

  • Anger at what has occurred and towards the person who did this
  • Guilt that you had not identified this before
  • Fear at what will happen in the future
  • Grief of what you thought you had, or what you may be about to lose
  • Confusion about whether to believe it or what to do next

It is important to consider your feelings too, as by acknowledging these feelings as being normal this will make it easier to accept and be able to provide the support the child require from you.

Don’t forget that this child will need support and to do that, you will need to look after your own mental health and seek professional support also.

Some tips tomorrow on how you may want to approach a person who has been accused of abuse.

If you have any questions, please contact me at Startafreshlife below.

 

When a child tells you about abuse

Console

Research has shown that approximately 50% of children who are abused will not tell anyone, then there are some that will keep that secret their whole life.  If we are talking about sexual abuse, this can be as high as 75%.

So what do you do if a child does share with you that they are being abused?  This can be confronting and if the abuser is a family member or friend fraught  with emotionally charged outcomes.

Here are some suggestions which may help you to understand what you can do:

  • Respond with urgency, the police and social service groups are their to support the child and the family in this time
  • Believe them, try to avoid questions like, “Are you sure?”, it has taken a great deal of soul searching and bravery to bring them to this point
  • Be supportive and reassure them this is not their fault
  • Stay calm, try not to show the child what you are feeling, remember it will have been hard for them to talk to you, you need to be there for them
  • Be caring, showing the child that they can trust adults and we are there to protect them
  • Face the problem, put your focus on the safety of the child and less on the fall out of the situation
  • Protection is paramount, do what is required to make sure the child will remain safe
  • Get help from the professionals, do not try to do this yourself asmyou will need help
  • Do not despair, this is the first step for the child to be able to recover and there is help out there

The key is to focus on the child and everything and everyone becomes your second concern.  Get the professional support and help you need, it will be impossible for you to deal with this yourself.

Remember we are all stronger than what we think, but we also need support, so reach out to those support networks that are there for you and the child and don’t forget your own mental health in this time.

Tomorrow we will talk about what the child may be feeling when they approach you, this may help you to know how to respond.

If you have any questions, please contact me at Startafreshlife.

How do I know if a child is being abused?

Child Abuse

You are stronger than what you think!

The first step in supporting a child who has been abused, is even identifying that this may be happening.  We know that anyone who is being abused, quite often finds it difficult, if not impossible to speak up about it.  This is because their attacker uses power, fear, trust and guilt to convince these children not to speak out.

So what can we do to ensure we have our radar on to identify potential abuse of our own child and/or one we may have contact with.

The symptoms I am describing below does not mean that a child is being abused, it is an indicator only that something may not be quite right.  There are people you can speak too who can help you decide if you should pursue this or not.

There are different types of abuse and therefore potentially different symptoms which may be presenting, however common symptoms could include:

  • Sleepliness
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Withdrawn
  • Unusual behaviour when around certain people

These symptoms could be a medical condition, drugs, puberty changes and/or abuse.  If you are concerned talk to someone and seek advice. If it is your child seek medical and professional support if required.

The important point is to understand what is happening with the child and if you discover they are being abused, remind them they have done nothing wrong, and there are people out there who will support and protect them.

I don’t have all the answers and I am not a trained professional, but there are techniques and tools that people have used which help and for the rest of the week we will talk about those non medical support tools which may help.

If you have any questions or are concerned about your child, or another child please contact the relevant professionals, this website is a good point of reference Child Abuse, Support Services.

 

 

 

It should not hurt to be a child

Child Abuse

As children grow, they are learning and developing skills to live in this world.  In a perfect world they would do that in a safe environment, with all the support they need to explore, experiment and grow.

So what happens when a child finds themselves in a place where they are do not feel safe, where the very people they trust hurt them, where they feel like they have no control over what is happening to them.

How does society take responsibility for failing these children and how does it then support them to find their way out of the fear, guilt and damage that has been done to them.

There are many organisations in Australia that provide amazing services which do just that:

These are just a few.  The question I have is how do we all ensure that we provide support and protect the children who cannot protect themselves when we need to?

This week I will be writing about ways to support a child who has been hurt and who is getting professional help, or is ready to move forward after seeking professional help.  If you know a child who has been hurt, who is not getting professional support, that is the first step.

If you have any questions please contact me at Startafreshlife.

Supporting a loved one through PTSD or panic attack

Support

As a partner of someone who suffers with PTSD and panic attacks this cartoon really resonated with me.  Although I may not physically build a nest, I have built a relationship with my partner that supports him for who he is and not who I want him to be.

Am I always supportive? No.  Am I always understanding? No.  But when he is experiencing the fear and panic, we try to fight it together.  When he perceives that someone, organisation, or situation is threatening him I use language like “We will fight this together, that is what we do”.

Can I encourage you if you are a partner of some one who experiences these events, when ever they are going through it, yes, try to talk them down, but if they can’t, be there for them and let them know they are not alone in this period.

There is plenty of time for talking about how to fix it after the event.  After all we may never truly know what they feel or think inside, so the only support we can give is understanding and love.

Panic Attack is over, now what do I do?

Hell

After a panic attack, and once you have calmed yourself down physically and emotionally, take some time to learn from this experience in order to lay down a stronger foundation for the future. This period of self-reflection will help you to assess what happened, how you responded, and what you can do differently the next time around.

Here is a four step process you can use to help you gain the most value from each panic attack:

  1. Assess what has happened:
    • What happened
    • Where was I when this happened
    • What did I believe
    • What was I thinking
  2. Challenge  yourself:
    • Were my beliefs of the situation realistic and reasonable
    • Did my thoughts limit me or my life
    • What other ways could I have viewed the situation
    • How might another person view the situation
    • How could viewing this differently help
  3. Shift your perspective:
    • What is a better way to think about this
    • What must I believe in order to change my view
    • How does all this make me feel
  4. Desensitise yourself:
    • Put yourself into uncomfortable situation slowly
    • Remember to do this safely and have an escape plan or support network
    • Practice the changes you have developed, practice, practice and practice
    • Begin again and keep going

As I have said all throughout this week, if you are experiencing panic attacks that are limiting your life, seek professional advice.  By adopting these suggestions you have the potential to start to battle this phenomena, however by no means do I think this is easy.

It requires support, understanding, reflection, bravery and most importantly a willingness to try and keep trying.  If I can leave you with anything it is to say you are not alone, you are not going crazy and you can (with support) slowly start to rebuild and minimise, if not stop your panic attacks.  Reach out and take that first step as that is the hardest.

If you have any questions please contact me at Startafreshlife.

Techniques that could help during a panic attack

panic

So you have been working on how to gain control in uncomfortable situations; you have found ways to keep yourself calm, centred and relaxed; you have learned more about how to manage difficult emotions; you have built your support network; and you have steered away from addictions, but unfortunately you are not quite there yet, and the moment an uncomfortable and unexpected situation arises you fall into “panic mode”.

Once you are having a panic attack, it is difficult to think straight and you most likely will feel out of control.  However, you actually may have more control than you think.  Here are several suggestions to help you try to take back control:

  • Offer no resistance – don’t fight it, use mindfulness to detach yourself and accept this is what is happening now and observe what is happening.  This is about removing yourself mentally from the situation
  • Remove yourself physically from the situation – move into another room, area or situation and use a mantra to help you return to calm, if you have the ability to do so
  • Ground yourself and become mindful – people use techniques like bands and tapping to help them return to a more mindful state and be in the present
  • Focus on something  you can control – it could be you talk about something randomly or start focussing on what is happening in another room or on the television, remove your focus from the situation or event
  • Stay calm and centred – this could be adopt a yoga pose, run on the spot, jump up and down, refocus your energy into burning the feeling up
  • Become engaged in activity – this could be read a book, listen to music, cook a meal, anything to refocus your thoughts

What ever you do, do not beat yourself up if you find these techniques don’t work.  Minimising the impact of panic attacks on your life may take awhile and the secret is to find what works for you and don’t give up.  Rely on professional help and your support network to help you stay motivated to get through this.

Tomorrow we will talk about what to do after you have had a panic attack, remember never to give up and keep learning so you can discover what works for you.

If you have any questions, please contact me at Startafreshlife.

 

 

 

 

What can you do before you have a panic attack

Do It

Some people who experience panic attacks feel like they have no control and are lost as what to do next.  Again, I repeat if you are having panic attacks and they are limiting your life I encourage you to seek professional support to help you through this.

When you have your head in a clear space, there are things you can do to help before you experience a panic attack.  It is about preparing yourself mentally for what is about to happen to you.

This is about reacting differently for a perceived danger vs a real danger.  The bonus to doing this is that this will also help you to handle stress, worry, anxiety and unexpected change with more thought and control.

Here are some suggestions to help you prepare yourself mentally and physically for the likelihood of a future panic attack

  • Understand panic attacks are not dangerous
    • This is a moment in time
    • This is a perceived threat not a real threat
    • The symptoms are a result of increased adrenaline released to protect you from a perceived threat
  • Expose yourself to uncomfortable situations
    • Firstly make sure you consult with a professional prior to taking this step, or at the minimum a support group
    • Build a plan to put yourself in uncomfortable situations daily
    • Start small and pull back when you need to
    • Stop, breathe, reflect and learn from what you are experiencing, this is where a professional adds real value
  • Build your support network
    • Family, friends, colleagues and professional support are invaluable to working through this condition
    • Build strong connections and support networks that support you, but also you can support in return
    • Support networks can help you to work through the fear, understanding the why and providing a different perspective
  • Find ways to keep calm
    • Learn breathing control as one of the first things you may notice is a change in your breathing
    • One of the next symptoms you may experience is muscle tension, by learning muscle relaxation techniques this can help to minimise the experience
    • Meditation is something you can use to help with your overall well being, but also eventually what you learn here will spill into your daily life
  • Develop your emotional coping skills
    • Learn about stress, worry, anxiety and fear – by understanding it you are armed with the knowledge to start managing it
    • Develop techniques to manage these emotions daily and practice, practice, practice
  • Avoid addictions
    • Typical addictions include alcohol, over-eating, caffeine, nicotine and recreational drugs
    • These elements have the potential to increase your emotions and symptoms and are not conducive to giving you the best chance of success
    • Seek out support groups vs addictions

Although I have never experienced panic attacks to a debilitating level, I do live with family members who do.  I have learnt from them that all this sounds easy, but can feel like an incredible mountain impossible to climb if you experience this condition.

This is why I encourage and will keep encouraging the importance of seeking professional support through this journey.

Tomorrow we will talk about what to do when you are in a panic attack.  In the meantime if you have any questions, please contact me at Startafreshlife.

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