CUSD Cares

The Four Different Types of Abuse

December 20, 2021 Brenda Vargas Season 2 Episode 13
CUSD Cares
The Four Different Types of Abuse
Show Notes Transcript

Director of Counseling and Social Services, Brenda Vargas and Dr. Floyd Godfrey, Executive Director of Family Strategies Counseling Center to discuss the four different types of  abuse.

Brenda Vargas :

All right. Well welcome parents and community to another episode of CUSDCares podcast. Thanks for being with us today. Today, we have Dr. Godfrey, Executive Director, of Family Strategies Counseling Center joining us once again for another conversation, Dr. Godfrey welcome. And thanks again for being with us.

Dr. Floyd Godfrey:

I'm happy to be h ere.

Brenda Vargas :

Awesome. Yeah, we wanna make sure our parents know that today. We're gonna be learning a little bit about the different types of abuse and making sure we're all coming from a lens of the same definition and understanding. And for those of you listening, please be aware that if you are currently receiving any mental health supports from your mental health provider, please understand that this podcast is just for a little tidbit of information to share and extend our knowledge with our community partners. So if you have any questions or concerns, please connect with your mental health provider, or you're welcome to reach out to one of us as well. Well , Dr. Godfrey, we just appreciate your time here and we wanna just get right to it and get started with our conversation. I know a lot of times when we talk about abuse, we just make the assumption that we all are speaking and understanding from the same lens. And I wanna make sure that we kind of back up a little bit and first talk about the four types of, of abuse that exist. We're really talking about physical, sexual, emotional abuse, as well as neglect. And as we jump into those four types of abuse and making sure everyone that's listening has a good understanding from the same lens as we continue to record podcasts around these types of topics. So I'll give you the floor, because I know that signs of a particular abuse , tend to be more specific depending which one we're talking about. I think we are going to get started with physical abuse as being the first one to define and understand.

Dr. Floyd Godfrey:

You know, Brenda, any kind of child abuse refers to mistreatment or neglect by an adult or someone in a role of responsibility towards a minor typically is what we're talking about. Any action or failure to act that results in harm , or possible harm of a child. We can come back and talk about it later, but really this could include anyone teacher, p arents, coaches, anyone that's in a role of responsibility for the care of a minor. Specifically if we're talking about physical abuse, any k ind of behavior that would be harmful physically to the child would be considered physical abuse and i t c ould c onclude anything that would be obvious like hitting the child or slapping the child. Also things like shaking or throwing or biting; , situations of burning or scalding, any kind of physical harm, even withhold sleep, food or medication would be considered physical abuse. And sometimes, there are a dult perhaps maybe teasing or taunting in ways that would be physically harmful or almost torturous; holding kids down and tickling or pinching or slapping in ways that it's really more physical abuse than affectionate. So anything along those lines would be considered physical abuse. Some countries have different definitions of abuse and corporal punishment can be seen as a form of physical abuse in some cultures. Maybe it's more acceptable, certainly in our north American culture it is not. And so we have to be careful of some of that, but understanding that when you see kids who have black eyes or bruises, bites or burns, frequently obviously things like broken bones, sometimes those injuries have a pattern to them where it's obvious they were held on both sides. They might protest or cry when they're going to a certain location. Like they don't wa nna g o home after school. They might be frightened of a certain specific kind of behavior or a s pecific person. You just have to be watchful. Sometimes teachers may notice a sign, t hey might approach a child and the child flinches when they're being touched or approached, that might be a s ig n that in the past, there's been harmful physical interaction going on there. So, these would be some, some possibilities. Teachers are always watching for these things. Parents ought to be always watching, coaches.

Brenda Vargas :

Yeah. Definite some signs there to look for. And I know that wasn't inclusive of everything, but those were some good examples that you gave, Dr. Godfrey, especially the flinching, the protesting and/or crying in regards to going to a certain location or being with a certain individual. Even if that person is an adult that we trust, sometimes we just are unaware as to what happens. Kids are pretty accepting, especially when it comes to authority figures. Let's g o into understanding what is sexual abuse, which is I know a tough one for people to grasp, understand, and even process that someone would actually hurt a child in that way, shape or form.

Dr. Floyd Godfrey:

Yeah. Sexual abusea responsible adult, having the child is still abuse, and children don't have the ability to make those kinds of decisions about sexual activity. Certainly if the child is forced into an activity that causes someone to be aroused sexually it's considered sexual abuse . It could include things like certainly sexual penetration, rape , oral sex are kinds of things , touching. Sometimes it can be more subtle. There might be touching happening outside the clothing, rubbing , kissing , situations where there's masturbation involved. Even if the clothes a re showing, you know, pornography is everywhere now. And so an adult showing children pornography is in some cases considered abuse, forcing a child to undress, flashing, showing them your genitals or the abuser showing them their genitals. And there's a grooming process that often happens with sexual abuse and getting the kids to slowly try something, do something over time. And then it sort of progresses into something more sexually inappropriate. But even in cases of adolescence where you think they're sexually active, they don't always know, and they're not always capable of making active decisions about sexual behavior. And so sometimes they don't report as often, they've had some sexual interaction with an adult because they are questions and they're afraid to say something because maybe they wanted it or they liked it, or they thought somehow that they had caused it. So it's a little bit more confusing for the teenagers, but still a ll considered child abuse.

Brenda Vargas :

And very confusing. As you mentioned for adolescents, cuz sometimes they have a response right. To the act or what's happening to them. So there's that guilt and shame behind that, which is probably a good portion as to why they don't share what's happened to them.

Dr. Floyd Godfrey:

I've had teenagers in my office who have told me specifically, well I wasn't abused. And here you have a 14 year old who was in sexual activity with a 30 year old. And I'll ask why they think that they weren't abused and they'll come out and tell me, well, I kind of wanted to do it and you can understand adolescent curiosity, but an adult is supposed to understand that they're teaching, guiding, training, not grooming for sexual pleasure. And so watching for the signs that an adolescent or a child may have been sexually abused is important. You may find that your child is talking just outright talking about it. So that's definitely a sign, but sometimes there's displaying sexual knowledge, which seems beyond their years, maybe it's a little unusual or bizarre. In some cases the kids will withdraw from their friends. They might even run away. They have anxiety all of a sudden that they didn't have before; they might shy away from specific people, coaches, teachers , sometimes we assume that kids are the anxiety about going to school. We need to ask a few more questions because they may be nervous or have experienced something negative with a teacher or a coach. And they're trying to maneuver away from them . They may have nightmares. It's not uncommon for kids who've been sexually abused to wet the bed , to start wearing extra layers of clothes. They might have changes in their mood. You think they're being a snarky moody teenager when actually , they're repressing a lot of what happened and they don't have anywhere to tell, to express what's happened. And of course , in some cases they may even contract and STD, or become pregnant or something of that nature.

Brenda Vargas :

Those are all really good signs to keep in mind. I know, and it's not something we typically go to, right? We see a change in a possible student or your child's behavior. And we don't typically consider these types of abuse as a possibility. So it's good to keep that at the forefront and just ask questions, open ended questions to our kids. And I know this is heavy for a lot of parents and community members to hear because it's not something that we typically would go to as being a possibility of something that's happened to one of our children. But another one to consider is the emotional abuse, because that one can be really tough. I think for some folks to understand what does that look like Dr. Godfrey?

Dr. Floyd Godfrey:

Yeah. You know, Brenda, that's a tough one too sometimes to identify , just because it's always not as cut and dry, emotional abuse might involve things like the child being ridiculed constantly for anything they say, they might be, maybe they're being shouted out threatened constantly. S o sort of an emotional manipulation that happens, maybe silent treatment or shouting, or sort of a manipulation becomes a punishment at home or in the classroom; limiting physical contact, constantly telling them they're no good, making mistakes that they are a mistake, maybe withholding social interactions, just bullying online bullying, emotional blackmail w ould all be forms of emotional abuse. And so it's a little bit difficult to sometimes know, you know, teenagers tend to be emotional anyway, but if they are showing frequent ongoing patterns of withdrawing, they're anxious, they're afraid, t hey might have extremes in their behavior where they suddenly become overly compliant or passive or overly aggressive. On the other hand, you might notice that they're not attaching, not connecting well with you as a parent or with those around, they might also regress. Sometimes you'll see kids emotionally regress. Like they might go back to sucking their thumb, a s a form of comforting themselves. They might want to be wrapping up in a blanket or with a teddy bear by themselves, m ore than they used to these kind of regressive behaviors could also be an indicator of emotional abuse. And again, it's important to remember with any of these forms of abuse, physical, e motional, sexual, again, it could be pa rents, teachers, coaches, but it could also be peers. It could be kids at school that are doing this, wa lking to class. And this is happening every time they're walking to class or kids in the classroom, ca using all kinds of emotional distress for the child, the online bullying, t hings of that nature. Uh , s o be watchful. It doesn't have to always be an adult.

Brenda Vargas :

That's a really good point and there's so much stress all around now these days, but I think if it causes your child to change from their typical behavior who they are, and like you mentioned, I'm so glad you noted the portion about them regressing, possibly right. To either younger behaviors or those comforting behaviors that is completely younger in nature or not age appropriate for who they are and what they've demonstrated so far. So, but it is emotional. One is really hard, as you mentioned to identify, b ut that constant need of not enough and/or not being worthy are some signs to kind of also notice as well. And then the last o ne D r. Godfrey- neglect, you know, we live in a world that we're all s o busy, right? And sometimes in the busyness while our students o r o ur children are very capable of at the appropriate age of taking care of themselves, sometimes things that should be a red flag a ren't a red flag, right. And a lot the support, our greater community, our neighbors, friends, and so forth and so on. What is the best way to define for all of us have a good understanding of what is neglect.

Dr. Floyd Godfrey:

Yeah. And child neglect is when a parent or any caregiver persistently fails to meet the basic physical or psychological needs of the child in a way that results in some kind of impairment of the child's health or development. So for example, not providing enough food appropriate food, clothing, or medical care would be an example. M aybe locking a child in the room o r a closet for extended periods of time, not providing adequate shelter that could include abandoning t he child, excluding them from the home, kicking them out of the home would be considered neglect, leaving a child in a situation where they might experience emotional harm o r danger would also be neglect, maybe leaving them home alone for long periods of time. Unsupervised. It's certainly acceptable to leave a child with a babysitter or older siblings, you know, to be cared for. But when it's for extended long periods of time, where an adult needs to be there to p rovide t he f ood, t o p rovide structure, then it would fall into that category. Some of t his would be generally the child having m edical issues. So it's important to note that some of the signs and symptoms of neglect could include things that are obvious, like medical or dental needs that clearly aren't being met. You could have kids where you notice that their clothes are regularly unwashed, their skin, their hair is dirty, or they smell of dirt or urine. The kids themselves might be using drugs or alcohol. Sometimes you might notice they're not eating lunch, they're missing food or food money. They don't always have what they need that way. Sometimes t he clothes are just unsuitable for the time of year. They don't seem to have appropriate clothing. They might skip school frequently. They might need glasses because they can't see, but nobody's helping them with that. Nobody's really looking after them. So those are some of the signs and symptom t hat teachers, parents, friends might notice if neglect is happening,

Brenda Vargas :

You know what Dr. Godfrey, I'm just gonna jump in real quick here for a lot of parents and community members, you know, that have neighbors. And, you know, I think we live in a community where people are pretty busy with a life, but noticing if the child is home alone a lot, no cars in the driveway and/or you always witness them and they're by themselves, right. They're sometimes signs that just point to us in a different direction. And I think sometimes just being really open, is there anything that you need? Is there anything you can do, you know, let your parent know, or, you know, your mom dad know, or whoever they live with, you know, if they need anything. I think sometimes being, just being very neighborly when we know that there is a child that is alone a lot and could possibly be in a situation of neglect.

Dr. Floyd Godfrey:

Yes, absolutely.

Brenda Vargas :

Alot to digest today, parents a nd community. I know that talking about abuse in general is not something easy. It's not typical kitchen table conversation that we discuss. But I think it's important for all of us to have dialogue and understanding around some of these things that happen, that we could be of help of a ssistance a nd support to each other as we live and grow in this community together. I thank you for your time. And I encourage you. If you do know a child that is in a situation that requires immediate attention and or concern, to please don't hesitate to call us i n Chandler unified schools, a c losest school, even if you're not sure if that student attends, but t o notify someone at t he school. W e're all mandated reporters i n which w e're required to report any possibility of any type of abuse and or neglect of a child. We do not i n investigate, but we certainly make the right folks aware in order for any child to get the help and support that's needed as we continue on day b y d ay. We know that sometimes parents and other folks that are caring for children sometimes need support and help, and we just wanna make sure to protect a ll children in our community. So D r. Godfrey, thank you for your time and we will see you once again. And thanks for joining us for CUSDCares.

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