Abuse and Victimization
Unfortunately, both children and adults become victims of abuse. Victimization occurs in the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and in other ways. Oftentimes, victims of abuse and other crimes are left feeling isolated, afraid and hopeless. We sometimes think victimization only has immediate, short-term impact. Maybe an injury. Maybe moving to a shelter or foster home. However, what we know is that being the victim of abuse and other violence can have long-lasting impact on individuals and families.
Child Abuse and Neglect
Child abuse and neglect is a serious problem, regardless of where we live. The effects are both immediate and long-term. Child abuse also comes in several forms: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. From a total sample of 17,337 individuals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the following rates of abuse and neglect among children:
- Emotional abuse 10.6%
- Physical abuse 28.3%
- Sexual abuse 20.7%
- Emotional neglect 14.8%
- Physical neglect 9.9%
Children who have been abused or neglected are at increased risk for substance abuse, committing crimes, school failure, violent behavior and general psychological problems. They tend to have problems with self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, anxiety and depression. Many children, depending on the length of the abuse, lose their abilities to attach to others, setting up a pattern of hostile and problematic relationships.
When there are behavioral problems as a result of child abuse and neglect, they will most likely be related to difficulty following rules, being respectful, staying in their seats and keeping on‐task, temper tantrums and difficult peer relationships. As children become older they are more likely to engage in self‐destructive behaviors such as stealing, truancy, smoking, cutting (self‐mutilation), sexual risk‐taking and alcohol and substance use.
Abuse of Adults
Abuse has both short and long-term effects on adults as well as children. Women are most often the victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking, although men may be as well. It is unfortunate, but abuse and violence toward adults also is a serious problem in all societies and impacts those in all walks of life.
Of women 18 years old and older, the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that 12.3 percent of American women have experienced a completed sexual assault in their lifetime… and this estimate did not include attempted sexual assault! The same research found that 27.2 percent of women and 11.7 percent of men had experienced some form of unwanted sexual contact. Also, 16.2 percent of women and 5.2 percent of men have experienced stalking in their lifetime.
Adults who have been victimized often experience a variety of problems beyond the physical impact. Increases in anxiety are common, sometimes involving flashbacks, sleep problems and crippling fear. Others have problems such as feeling “numb” (i.e., not feeling much of anything), depression, thoughts of suicide and increased substance use.
Fortunately, there are treatment methods that work for those who have been victimized. Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or TF-CBT, is the treatment of choice for dealing with and recovering from problems related to victimization. The Counseling Connection has therapists trained in TF-CBT and also has programs to specifically provide treatment to victims of crime at no cost.
The Counseling Connection is here to help. Call us for an appointment at 304.340.3676.