I once knew a 12 years old girl called Jess who was usually very playful, outspoken and sweet except in the presence of male folks especially the house boy who was over 20 years as at that time. No one knew the reason for this type of behavior. Therefore, it was seen as a result of strict disciplinary measures on the part of her family which I disagreed with anyway. However, the truth came to light on the day Jess’ aunt came to visit and slept in Jess’ room.
That night, the house boy sneaked into the room unaware that Jess’ aunt was lying on the bed and Jess slept in her parent’s room. He started by caressing the lady’s thigh and gradually made to touch her genitals when the lady awoke and heard him saying “Jess stay one place let me do and go”. That instant, the lady screamed and awoke everyone in the house and that was how little, helpless Jess told a pathetic story of how she was being abused almost every night by the houseboy for a year now and he had threatened to kill her and her parents if she ever said a word to anyone about it.
Our actions and behaviour are like a mirror’s image or reflection of who we are. Behaviours are a clear image of an individual’s instinct, experiences, lessons and innermost feelings. No one understands it better than oneself. People can only imagine or guess what is going on in one’s life but they can never know for sure until one opens up and tells the story.
There are so many teenagers who are suffering from one form of abuse or another and for some reasons are scared to seek for help while there are some people who are being abused and yet do not know of it and thus cannot seek for help and instead wallows in misery associated with the aftermath of child abuse.
Child abuse which can also be referred to as domestic violence is a pattern of behaviour used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. It involves threat or use of violence. Domestic violence includes physical, emotional, psychological, economic and sexual abuse. Abusers use threats, intimidation, isolation and other behaviours to gain and maintain power and control over their victims.
Child abuse often has the damaging effects not only on the victim but also on the community or society that must address the aftermath of abuse which is evident in the victim’s behaviour and countenance.
Most physical and emotional abusers were victims of abuse and thus they abuse children and teenagers without any remorse. Sometimes, they are unable to draw the line between discipline and abuse and therefore think they are disciplining their child when actually they are abusing them. They do this ignorantly because they grew up in an abusive family and they did not know that they were being abused. In this case, they need help and they can only get it if they ask for counseling and therapy and they must fully commit to solving the problem.
The society in general can help curb child abuse by first getting educated on child abuse and the various forms of child abuse and how to detect when a child is being abused and being able to help the child by giving them audience, nurturing them and making them feel safe and secure. Also, we must all see ourselves as our neighbours keeper and report any case of abuse to the appropriate body such as Women Trafficking and Child Labour Eradification Foundation (WOTCLEF) and UNICEF.