The trauma of child abuse

DUBAI - The aftermath of dealing with child abuse often involves dealing with a troubled child, the questions from society and a general feeling of neglect and social disconnect.


Muaz Shabandri

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Published: Wed 19 Jan 2011, 12:45 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:41 AM

Devika Singh, a psychologist specialising in marriage, family and child psychology, says the trauma of being abused can take a long time to heal.

“The trauma of going through an abuse can get worse with time and children who have been abused start feeling dirty. Self-blame is a big part of the emotional trauma that remains for many years. It is something that takes a very long time depending on how the people near the victim deal with the situation,” says Devika.

While some parents report instances of abuse to school authorities and police officials, many cases remain under wraps, as parents fear prolonged psychological effects on their child.

“Parents hesitate to report incidents of abuse to protect their children from the social stigma of going through such experiences at a young age. Even from a parent’s perspective, they face the guilt of dealing with the emotions of their children who faced the ordeal.”

Advising parents to communicate with their kids at a young age, she says, “It does not matter if the kid does not understand human biology. They just need to know what is good touch and bad touch. Simple explanations and training by parents can help children deal with such instances better.”

Explaining a simple technique, she pointed that children should be taught not to allow any stranger to touch those body parts that can be covered by a swimsuit.

Maya Fleifel Sidani, a clinical psychologist at the Human Relations Institute (HRI) in Dubai, says a child should be taught the distinction between strangers and friends before being sent along with drivers and attendants to school.

“As soon as the child understands basic concepts, he or she needs to know the difference between strangers and family friends or other known people who see the kid on a regular basis. The mother plays an important role in explaining the different relationships and the parents should together set clear boundaries for the kid and his/her interaction with the different people, both inside and outside the home,” says Maya.

She adds, “Children are helpless and defenceless and parents need to advise their children on how to react in situations. Most parents are shocked and in denial when they first learn about the abuse of their child. Confusion, anger, guilt and shame on the parents’ part are observed as normal behaviour.

“In any case, the child should be comforted and the psychological space of a child should be treated in a discreet way. They should not feel neglected and the parents should not overlook an abuse. Professional care and attention are the best solutions to these problems.”


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