Children living through abuse and violence can suffer from the effects of the trauma for the rest of their lives. In 2006, a woman named Tarana Burke who is a civil rights activist coined the phrase of “#MeToo” which is creating solidarity among victims of sexual and domestic violence. It had become widespread and transformational and was in hope that the movement could be expanded to put focus on the attention of sexual violence of both boys and girls who have been traumatized and trusting their experiences. “The movement has been particularly effective because it has led to an emphasis on women, giving them the power to choose when and how they disclose their experiences of sexual violence and led to an increased recognition of empathy for victims of sexual violence across society.” (Nickolas T. Agathias “A “#MeToo Movement” for Children: Increasing Awareness of Sexual Violence Against Children”142. August 2018)
It’s obvious that acts of sexual abuse or any other kind of physical abuse can lead to physiological effects later on in life when they become adults. Traumatic stress has a broad range of effects on the brain function and structure and can cause negative effects. There are people in this world who have survived domestic abuse from childhood or a relationship. One may argue that domestic violence in someone’s culture is a part of the norm. Different cultures have views on what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to physical abuse. There also may be an argument that many victims of abuse don’t have the resources to be helped, or because they have kids that they don’t want to put through a split or simply are scared that if they leave, they could be really hurt to the point of death.
Pro-Movement Stance/My Position
There are so many women in today’s world that have been affected by sexual and or domestic violence. In the Me Too movement, it became widespread and had millions of women come forward about their abuse and experiences. This movement brought attention to children and adults who are suffering from the different types of abuse, the way it effects their life mentally, and the importance of knowing when someone is or has experienced any form of abuse and how to help. The movement made people realize how common it is that sexual abuse or any other form of abuse happens every single day and how to come forward to talk about their experiences when ready. In an article that Nickolas T. Agathis wrote on the #MeToo movement he states, “42% of all women who are sexually assaulted in the United States experienced their first assault before they reached 18 years old.” (A “#MeToo Movement” for Children: Increasing Awareness of Sexual Violence Against Children) I think any type of abuse should not be taken lightly. Any type of abuse can cause damage to a person mentally and physically and it’s important to recognize the signs of abuse to help someone.
When children have experienced sexual abuse, they may not realize how much it effects their health later on in life, physically and mentally. When a child has experienced sexual abuse, it reduces the child’s feelings of self-worth, low self-esteem, and body image. It can also create stresses of development through puberty and a sense of security and control is essential to their well-being as well with higher levels of shame, eating disorders, self-blame, depression, anxiety, denial, sexual and relationship problems. “Childhood sexual abuse is a subject that has received much attention in recent years. Twenty-eight to 33% of women and 12 to 18% of men were victims of childhood or adolescent sexual abuse.” (Melissa Hall, “Long Term-Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Article 19, 2011) This article also states that dissociation for survivors of sexual abuse from childhood may include nightmares, flashbacks, and difficulty of experiencing feelings.
In today’s world, you hear more and more about domestic violence cases. Intimate partner violence can take place in all settings no matter the religion, color of skin, or gender. It’s important to see the signs when you see them so you can either help someone that needs it or even help yourself. Victims who experience domestic abuse can have long lasting problems like poor physical health, depressed mood and anxiety, trauma or PTSD, feelings of guilt or shame, and much more. There are also forms of sexual abuse that that are more common in relationships and can range from sexual harassment and unwanted touching to rape or sexual assault. Another form of abuse can also be financial violence which is a less known form of intimate partner violence. It includes a person to control their partners money so they can make their partner be completely dependent on them. The logic of her article is showing people the signs of domestic abuse and the ability to recognize its many faces. It includes resources on how to help someone who you know is in a domestic violence relationship
An author named Gregory Jantz, wrote an article about the effects on of stress from childhood abuse. Jantz writes, “The cost of childhood abuse can be significant, affecting emotional, physical, relational, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. The stress triggered by the trauma can become an engrained response into adulthood, leaving a legacy of distress, distrust, and fear.” “The Effect of Stress from Childhood Abuse.” He had put together a study at UCLA about how the childhood stress changes the ways their brains will react to specific circumstances later in life. The negative health effects can lead to health problems which may be headaches, muscle tension panic attacks, and asthma attacks. Jantz’s article about the effects from childhood abuse can be useful to recognize the signs for abuse. Jantz also runs a facility in Washington State that has programs that help treat behavioral and mental health issues as well as eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and more.
After the #MeToo took place, there has been so many more women who have come forward about their experiences and felt they had more of a safe place to talk about those experiences. The effects of childhood abuse can be very negative on someone’s life and can be harmful when growing up. The effects of abuse can be severe on their health and mental state, and they should never be afraid to talk to someone about what they are experiencing no matter their age, sex, color or beliefs.
Anti-Movement Stance/Alternative/Opposing Position
People who are experiencing domestic violence tend to stay with their abusers. Abuse is about control and sometimes the victims can’t do anything but feel like they have no choice to stay because of reasons like having children, fear, guilt, economically dependence or cultural roles. They also may not always have the resources to take the first steps into getting out of an abusive relationship. Victims often are without a support network because the abuser has socially isolated them.
Women will tend to stay with abusers because they don’t always have the resources to leave. Most of the time, women will be dependent on their abuser and they have a fear of leaving because they think they will end up homeless, have to rely on welfare and unable to find a job and childcare. Women can be very connected with their abuser, and don’t want to leave because they feel like it could make things worse. Emotional dependence can leave the victim afraid to leave to be on their own or feel like they may not be able to take care of themselves. There are shelters and hotlines that women can call to get out of their relationship with their abuser. Although, some women may not have the strength to pull themselves out of a hard place with abuse and may need extra help from friends and family. There can also be factors of financially dependence where they are able to control their partners money so they will have their partner believe that they have to rely on them.
In some cultures, it’s the norm that women experience domestic violence and it’s important to the culture and its influence on how male/female relationships are structured. The idea of culture is a few centuries old and it’s been generated to explain the notion of it and what it entails. Some beliefs play a role in preventing the victim from leaving such as religious beliefs and the importance of marriage to prompt the victim to stay. Culture is normally associated with norms, values and traditions that have been passed on for generations. “In work with immigrant and refugee women, factors such as language, religious beliefs, social networks, and traditional help‐seeking behaviors have been identified as influential in how women will respond to domestic violence” (Madeline Fernandez, “Cultural Beliefs and Domestic Violence” Vol. 1087, Issue 1. 2006) Masculinity in many cultures are associated with power and dominance.
Guilt, children, and fear are most common reasons of why women stay with their abusers. Victims are often worried that if they leave their abuser that it will ruin his life or feel that in some way, they deserve the abuse. If women have children, they fear that if they leave, the abusive partner will get custody of their child or that the child will have to grow up without parent, that the only way the child won’t get the abuse is if the partner is. Victims will always live in fear because leaving doesn’t always guarantee safety and could later on result in violence that escalates.
There are many reasons that victims may stay with their abusers and often will deny any abuse. The stress of going through a relationship like that can give different reasons of why they stay depending on the case. Women especially will blame themselves for causing the abuse and will see themselves as responsible for trying to stop it so they will also hide abuse from potential support systems and try to be their partners rescuer. In the cultural aspect of abuse, many different countries and religions will see the violence in different ways that other cultures do. In some countries, a slap in the face is okay when a woman disrespects her husband versus other cultures that you would see that as abuse.
Evaluation: Any type of abuse is never okay to me. Sexual, physical, emotional, or any other type can really damage a person’s mental and physical health and if experiencing it young, the trauma of it all can put a stop on brain development, and they could experience really bad mental health as an adult. The most complex part about this issue is that nobody ever wants to hear or see any kind of abuse to someone. Long term effects of childhood abuse are varied and often devastating. The effects can lead to emotional reactions such as shame, fear, guild and self-blame which will often also lead to depression and anxiety. Victims can experience PTSD and can suffer from nightmares and flashbacks from the trauma.
Approximately one in five women has experienced childhood sexual abuse. From 2006 to 2008, among females aged 18–24 years who had sex for the first time before age 20 years, 7% experienced nonvoluntary first sex. Twelve percent of girls in grades 9–12 reported they had been sexually abused; 7% of girls in grades 5–8 reported sexual abuse. Of all girls who experienced sexual abuse, 65% reported that the abuse occurred more than once, 57% reported that the abuser was a family member, and 53% reported that the abuse occurred at home. (Committee on healthcare for women “Adult Manifestations of Childhood Sexual Abuse” Number 498, August 2011.) Everyday there are people who are coming forward about their abuse and it should be acknowledged more often. Domestic abuse can be presented in multiple ways such as a black eye and bruises on the body but the less talked about form of abuse can also leave no scars, such as humiliation, insults, or criticism. Luana Marques who is a licensed clinical psychologist writes an article on intimate partner abuse and states, “Nearly 50% of women and men in the U.S report psychological abuse by their partner.” (“Intimate Partner Violence- What Is It and What Does It Look Like?”)
To deal with the complexity of abuse, there need to be more resources out there for everyone to be able to go to comfortably and on their own time when they are ready. It’s important to be able to recognize the signs of abuse when you see someone going through it and tell them that you can help when they are ready. Some of those signs to recognize can be by name calling, control of where you go, how you spend your money what you wear. When they are drinking, they will get angry or threatens you with violence and more. There is therapist that you can talk to, hotlines you can call, and they also say to create a safety plan like going to a shelter, going to family’s house or a friend.
In the Me Too moment, from the clinical perspective of things, they wanted the pediatrician to have many roles in increasing awareness of sexual and physical violence against children. “Child victims of sexual violence face many difficult challenges in reporting their experiences, particularly if they have caregivers who do not believe them, which can lead to self-blame. Just as the #MeToo movement has led to an emphasis on trusting women and believing their experiences, we must do the same with girls and boys who are traumatized. In most cases, the pediatrician’s primary responsibility will be to determine if there is adequate concern of sexual violence to make necessary referrals to the appropriate government agencies and specialty child maltreatment clinics.” (Nickolas T. Agathias “A “#MeToo Movement” for Children: Increasing Awareness of Sexual Violence Against Children”142. August 2018) It’s very important to spread awareness and recognize the signs of abuse no matter what kind it is. It can affect a person’s life more than you know.