Warning signs of abusive personalities and the rights of abused children

Posted: August 4, 2013 in Christian Living
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“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” (Mathew 18:6 – 10)

Imagine yourself as a single woman with a child to raise on your own. With a young child to look after you’d have to be crazy to hook up with an abuser, right? But many would be surprised by just how many smart women get fooled by these types of men and place themselves and their children in great danger. Below are warning signs of an abusive personality.

Excessively possessive; calls constantly or visits unexpectedly; prevents you from going to work because “you might meet someone.”
Interrogates you intensely (especially if you’re late) about whom you talked to and where you were; keeps all the money; insists you ask permission to do anything.
Tries to cut you off from family and friends; accuses people who support you of causing trouble. Puts down everyone you know- friends are either stupid, or slutty.
Blames others for problems or mistakes:
It’s always someone else’s fault when anything goes wrong.
Makes others responsible for his feelings:
The abuser says things like, “Why do you always do things that make me angry?”
Is easily insulted, claiming hurt feelings when he is really mad.
Cruelty to animals and children:
Kills or punishes animals brutally. Also, may expect children to do things that are far beyond their ability (whips a 3-year-old for unintentional accidents) or may tease them until they cry.
Verbal abuse:
Constantly criticizes or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things, degrades, curses, and calls you ugly names.
Sudden mood swings:
Switches from sweet to violent in minutes.
Often makes threats:
Says things like, “I’ll break your neck,” or “I’ll kill you,” and then dismisses them with, “Don’t take things so literal!”
Breaking or striking objects during an argument:
Slams fist on tables, punches walls, throws objects across a room, pushes, shoves, or physically restrains you from leaving room.

Where Are The Rights of Sexually Abused Children?

The most vulnerable people caught in this relationship are young children. And unfortunately, most children are left without any legal recourse for protection from an abusive parent or step-parent.

Ask nearly anyone and they’ll say that they would speak up if they thought a child was being abused–either physically or sexually. Almost no one believes they would allow this harmful behavior to continue if they knew for sure that it was going on.

And yet, the sad truth is that millions of children suffer physical, emotional or sexual abuse every day. (Many by the hands of a family member or step-parent) Many of these victims believe, correctly, that someone else knows, or should know, about their situation, but does little or nothing to protect them. Some tell adults what’s going on, seeking protection and help, only to be met with disbelief, denial, blame, or even punishment. How can that be?

When you’re the one who has been hurt in this way it’s hard to imagine that there can be any good reason for failing to protect a vulnerable child. The child may even feel doubly betrayed by someone’s failure to help if that person is close to them, such as a parent or relative. The child will think, “I was in danger; someone could have protected me but chose not to!” And no excuse or rationalization for their failure will seem acceptable.

Also, some victims of abuse will actually feel more anger toward a non-abusive adult who didn’t speak up than toward the person who actually hurt them. They may have expected the worst of the abuser, who was clearly deeply disturbed or had little or no concern for them, but they expected better from someone who claimed to be caring and worthy of their trust. This anger at the person who failed to protect them may be especially strong while unwanted or abusive sexual experiences are happening. And those feelings can last for decades.

A study released May 10, 2012, co-authored by First Star, a nonprofit advocacy group for neglected and abused children, and the Children’s Advocacy Institute at the University of San Diego Law School, has concluded that states across the nation were inadequately representing the legal rights of abused and neglected children in dependency hearings.

The study, entitled ‘A Child’s Right to Counsel: A National Report Card on Legal Representation for Abused & Neglected Children Third Edition’ has given each state a grade based on a 100 point scale that evaluated six criteria in the states’ legislation. States that received the poorest grades do not have any laws on the books mandating that lawyers be appointed to represent children in court. Even in states where lawyers are appointed, legislation does not require lawyers to be trained in domestic violence issues or to treat the child in the same way they would another client. Instead lawyers are often allowed (or even encouraged) to act in what they perceive to be the child’s best interest, without taking into account the child’s wishes.

How did your state do?
“In the U.S. the right to counsel is guaranteed to everyone accused of breaking the law – including parents and other caregivers accused of child abuse and neglect,” said Elissa T. Garr, Executive Director of First Star. “Yet the abused and neglected children in these cases, who are the least able to advocate for themselves, are not guaranteed counsel. It is tragic that in many states across the country, when judicial decisions are being made that will impact every facet of these children’s lives, the right to counsel is not guaranteed to the victims of that abuse and neglect.”

The report graded each state and the District of Columbia based on how well they protect the legal rights of abused and neglected children in dependency court. Shamefully, twenty-five states earned C’s or lower:

• 3 states earned A+’s: Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oklahoma;
• 12 states earned A’s: Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia;
• 11 states earned B’s: Arkansas, California, District of Columbia, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming
• 9 states earned C’s: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Wisconsin
• 6 states earned D’s: Alaska, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Nevada, and South Carolina
• 10 states earned F’s: Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Washington

In closing, I would like to challenge you to do what we’ve told our children to do for years: “If you see someone doing something wrong; tell someone!” James 4:17 goes even further when it says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

Remember what Jesus said: “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

If you suspect that a child is being abused contact the Children’s Advocacy Institute:

University of San Diego School of Law
5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego, CA 92110
Telephone: 619.260.4806
Fax: 619.260.4753

Sacramento Office
800 J Street, Suite 504
Sacramento, CA 95814
Telephone: 916.844.5646

Washington, DC Office
1000 Vermont Ave., NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20005
Telephone: 917.371.5191

Many people refuse to tell someone about their suspicions of child abuse because they’re afraid of inadvertently making a false accusation. But when it comes to protecting a child I would much rather err on the side of a child than on the side of an adult.

  1. […] Warning signs of abusive personalities and the rights of abused children. […]

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