Child Abuse and Coping Strategies
Child abuse in children has been suggested to not only impair the normal development of the brain but also to have lasting effects in cognition, behavior, affect and social interaction (Perry et al. , 1996). According to (Brand et al. , 2008) child abuse is any action or lack of action that in any way may endanger or impair a child’s emotional, physical or psychological health and development. Types of abuse Child abuse includes any type of maltreatment or harm inflicted upon children and young people in interactions between adults (Lazenbatt, 2010). English, 1998) enumerate and define the types of child abuse which are physical, emotional, neglect, and sexual abuse. Physical abuse is an act of commission by a caregiver that results or is likely to result in physical harm, including death of a child. Examples of physical abuse acts include kicking, biting, shaking, stabbing, or punching of a child. Spanking a child is usually considered a disciplinary action; although it can be classified as abusive if the child is bruised or injured.
Emotional abuse is the act of commission or omission that includes rejecting, isolating, terrorizing, ignoring or corrupting a child. Examples of emotional abuse are confinement; verbal abuse; withholding sleep, food, or shelter; exposing a child to domestic violence; allowing a child to engage in substance abuse or criminal activity; refusing to provide psychological care; and other inattention that results in harm or potential harm to a child. An important component of emotional or psychological abuse is that it must be sustained and repetitive.
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Sexual abuse is an act of commission, including intrusion or penetration, molestation with genital contact, or other forms of sexual acts in which children are used to provide sexual gratification for the perpetrator. This type of abuse also includes acts such as sexual exploitation and child pornography. Last is neglect. It is an act of omission by a parent or caregiver that involves refusal or delay in providing health care; failure to provide basic needs such as food, lothing, shelter, affection, and attention; inadequate supervision; or abandonment. This failure acts to hold true for both physical and emotional neglect. On the other hand (Brand, 2008) list the types of child abuse and define it. Physical abuse is any physical injury to a child which is not accidental. It may be biting, pinching, hitting, kicking, pushing, twisting arms, choking, grabbing hair, or punishment to dominate or control.
Emotional and Psychological abuse is the omission of or acts that cause or could cause serious conduct, cognitive, affective or other mental disorders as a result of parent or caretaker behavior and are almost always present when other forms of abuse are identified. Emotional abuse involves severe rejection, intimidation, humiliation, severe criticism, constant use of verbally abusive language; denigration; name calling; constant shaming; incessant teasing; terrorizing; threats of punishment; torture or abandonment to cause fear; confinement, and failure to express any affection.
This generally occurs as a result of the child’s inability to meet unrealistic demands made by parents. Psychological abuse occurs when children are not provided with the necessary environment to develop mentally. It might be controlling access to alcohol, activities, peers, family, and others. Sexual abuse is any sexual activity in which a child is allowed, encouraged, or forced to participate. This can include sexual touching and fondling, exhibitionism, sexual intercourse, incest, and pornography. Effects of Physical Abuse
Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to the physical effects of maltreatment. Physical abuse is associated with various types of injuries, particularly when exposure to such abuse occurs in the first three years of life (Vinchon et al. , 2005). Shaking an infant may result in bruising, bleeding and swelling in the brain. The physical consequences of “shaken baby syndrome” can range from vomiting or irritability to more severe effects, such as concussions, respiratory distress, seizures and death (Conway, 1998).
Two-thirds of subdural hemorrhages in children under two are caused by physical abuse (Vinchon et al. , 2005). It is estimated that 10 percent of admissions to pediatric burns plastic surgery units are related to child maltreatment (Chester et al. , 2006). Infants who have been neglected and malnourished may also experience a condition known as “non-organic failure to thrive”. This refers to a situation in which the child’s weight, height, and motor development fall significantly below age-appropriate ranges, without a medical or organic cause.
In extreme cases, the death of the child is the end result. Even with treatment, the long-term consequences can include growth problems, retardation, and socio-emotional deficits (Wallace, 1996). Neglect and other forms of abuse may also be associated with neuromotor handicaps, such as central nervous system damage, physical defects, growth and mental retardation, and speech problems (Chester, 2006). Recent studies have also found an association between childhood abuse and hormonal disruption, manifesting in a deregulation of the HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal) axis (Cicchetti et. l, 2001). In addition, childhood abuse also has strong links to later health problems, including heart disease, liver disease, cancer and chronic lung disease ( Felitti et al, 1998). Effects of Sexual Abuse Sexual abuse is associated with a number of internalizing and relate behaviors, including anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem, suicidal ideation and attempts, nightmares and sleep disturbances, somatic complaints, and feelings of isolation (Mc-Clellan et al. , 1995).
In addition, a number of studies have also noted the presence of externalizing behaviors, such as self-abusive behaviors, cruelty, problems with school performance and concentration, problems with relationships and social competence, substance abuse problems, and problems related to sexual activity victimization, difficulties with sexual adjustment, and substance abuse (Wells et al. , 1995). The effects of abuse uniquely manifest themselves in each individual, and the situations surrounding the abuse are different for each individual. Therefore, there is no set of symptoms that uniquely define the profile of sexually abused person.
Like childhood sexual abuse, there are no definitive that define the profile of a physically abused person and the effects may be immediate or long-term (Ammerman et al. , 1986;). A number of correlates have been identified, however, including internalizing problems such as feelings of hopelessness, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, somatic problems and externalizing problems such as interpersonal problems, aggression and violence inside and outside of the family, conduct problems and criminal behaviors, substance abuse, self-injurious and suicidal behavior (Briere & Runtz, 1988).
According to Lazenbatt, 2010 maltreatment may affect a child’s health indirectly. For instance, physical and sexual abuse is a major factor in the homelessness of young people, which may result in risk-taking behaviors including substance abuse, self-harming, prostitution, and increased vulnerability to further assault. Child victims of sexual abuse, for example, may be more prone to sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).
Adolescents who have experienced sexual abuse are more likely to experience ongoing health problems such as chronic pelvic pain and other gynecologic problems, gastrointestinal problems, headaches, increased obesity (Springer et al, 2007). Both physical and sexual abuses are associated with doubling of the risk of attempted suicide for young people by the time they reach their late twenties (Gilbert et al, 2008).
The link between maltreatment and many of these adverse consequences may be stress and depression, which can influence the immune system and may lead to higher risk-taking behaviors such as smoking, abuse of alcohol, illegal drugs, and overeating (Widom and Maxfield, 2001). (Lipovsky, 2005) classify between short-term and long-term effects of child sexual abuse. The following short-term effects are the following: Anger or acting out, difficulty regulating emotional responses, effects on self-perception, fear and anxiety, interpersonal problems, nightmares, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), school difficulties, sense of etrayal, powerlessness, stigmatization, sexualized behaviors and sleep problems. The long-term effects of child sexual abuse are anxiety disorders, depression, interpersonal difficulties, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sexual dysfunctions, substance-related disorders, suicidal thoughts/behaviors, social withdrawal or isolation, and somatic difficulties. The experience of child sexual abuse varies from individual to individual.
Severity, intensity, and frequency, age of child, relationship between the child and perpetrator, degree of support from non-offending parents, level of acknowledgment by the perpetrator, quality of family functioning, extent of violence, and specific nature of the abuse all affect the type and severity of effects seen in the child victim. Thus, it is not important to note that no one symptom profile is unique to children who have been sexually abused, nor do all children who have been sexually abused display any one symptom.
Effects of Abuse on Child Mental Health and Well-being All types of maltreatment can affect a child’s emotional, psychological and mental well-being, and these consequences may appear immediately or years later. The immediate and long-term impact of abuse can include mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, substance misuse, eating disorders, self-injurious behavior, anger and aggression, sexual symptoms and age-inappropriate sexual behavior (Lanktree et al, 2008).
Numerous studies have documented associations between a child’s exposure to maltreatment with negative mental health outcomes: low self-esteem and depression (Nemerodd, 2001); severe anxiety (Kendler et. al. , 1998); addictions, drug annd alcohol abuse (Bremmer et. al. , 2000); post-traumatic stress disorder (McCauley et al, 1997); self-harming and suicidal (Oates, 2003); and being bullied (Duncan, 1999). Other psychological and emotional conditions include panic disorder, dissociative disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and reactive attachment disorder (Springer et. l. , 2007). In one long-term study by Silverman et al (1996), as many as 80 percent of young adults who had been abused met the diagnostic criteria for at least one psychiatric disorder by the time they reached age 21. These young adults exhibited many problems including depression, nxiety, eating disorders and suicide attempts. Children who experience rejection or neglect are more likely to develop antisocial traits as they grow up and are more associated with borderline personality disorders and violent behavior (Schore, 2003).
Abused and neglected adolescents are estimated to be at least 25 percent more likely to experience problems such as delinquency, teen pregnancy, low academic achievement, drug abuse and mental health problems (Kelley et. al. , 1997). The negative effects on health and development can often, though not always be reversed, this requires timely identification of the maltreatment and appropriate intervention. The harmful effects vary depending on a number of factors, including the circumstances, personal characteristics of the child, and the child’s environment (Gelles, 1998), and may endure long after the abuse or neglect occurs.
Researchers have identified links between child maltreatment with difficulties during infancy, such as depression and withdrawal symptoms, common among children as young as three who have experienced emotional/physical abuse or neglect (Dubowitz et. al. , 2002). Heim and Nemeroff (2001) suggest that early childhood abuse and trauma can cause a persistent biological state, which is likely to function as a risk factor for mental disorders (Agid et. al. , 2000).
Persistent neglect can lead to serious impairment of health and development; children may also experience low self-esteem or feelings of being unloved and isolated (Lazenbatt, 2010). Effects of Child Abuse to Health Daro (1998) has shown that 30%of abused children have chronic health problems and 3. 2% of abused children require hospitalization for serious injuries secondary to child abuse. In a survey of patients from a pediatric intensive care unit, 1. 4% of admissions were due to child abuse, and child abuse patients had the highest “Severity of Illness” scores (Irazuzta, 1997).
Felitti et al (1998) reported that persons who have experienced 4 or more categories of child maltreatment and/or household dysfunction are more likely to engage in health risk behaviors and have poorer adult health outcomes during adulthood than those reporting fewer of these experiences. The group of people who experienced significant maltreatment showed 4-12 times greater risk for alcoholism, depression, drug abuse and suicide attempts, a 2-4 times greater risk for smoking, poor self-rated health less han or equal to 50 sex partners and sexually transmitted disease, a 1. 4-1. 6 times greater risk for physical inactivity and obesity, and a 1. 6-2. 9 times greater risk fr ischemic heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, hepatitis, stroke, diabetes and liver disease. Moreover, women with sexual abuse histories compared to those without abuse histories have been shown to be at increased risk for suffering from chronic pelvic pain (Walker et. al. 1995) and neurological complaints, including headaches and backaches (Lesserman et. l. , 1998) also demonstrated that women with severe abuse histories have worse physical health, greater pain, greater number of non-GI somatic symptoms, greater number of days disabled by illness and greater number of physician visits and greater functional distress. Impact of the Abuse UNICEF, (2013) once stated that as damaging as domestic violence is on women, it can be equally so for children who witness the abuse of their mothers. Risks for children include: Increased risk of becoming victims of abuse themselves.
There is a common link between domestic violence and child abuse. Among victims of child abuse, more than 50% report domestic violence in the home. In addition, many children become victims of abuse in trying to prevent or stop violence towards their mothers. One study showed that in 15% of cases where children were present, they tried to prevent the abuse, 6% went for outside help, and 10% tried to protect the victim or make the violence stop. Harm to children’s physical, emotional and social development.
This can include excessive irritability, sleep problems, emotional distress, fear of being alone, immature behavior, problems with toilet training and language development, trouble with schoolwork, poor concentration and focus, psychosomatic illness, depression, suicidal tendencies, bed-wetting, juvenile pregnancy, and criminal behavior. Strong likelihood of continuing the cycle of abuse in the next generation. The greatest predictor of children becoming either perpetrators or victims of domestic violence later in life is whether or not they grow up in a home where there is domestic violence.
Children learn by example and unless the cycle of violence is broken, they are highly likely to repeat the pattern. Australia’s National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect illustrate a video called, “Children See, Children Do”. Referrals of Child Abuse According to DOJ (2013) there are centers that we can report the cases of child abuse which includes the Department of Justice released the following centers where we can report child abuse cases.
These include Department of Social Welfare & Development or to the Child Health and Intervention and Protective Service (CHIPS), Anti-Child Abuse, Discrimination, Exploitation Division (ACADED) National Bureau of Investigation, Commission on Human Rights Child Rights Center, Philippine National Police Operation Center or nearest police station, DOJ Task Force on Child Protection or contact the nearest Provincial, City or Regional Prosecutor and Local Barangay Council for the Protection of Children.
Cruz (2013) once stated that Agencies involved in the welfare of children in difficult situations give credit to Anti-Child Abuse Network (ACAN) for an improved referral system. Shirley Casallo, Social Worker from the Office of the City Social Welfare Officer (OCSWADO) said in an interview over radio station DZWT that with ACAN, the referral system has become smooth. In the past we didn’t know where to report victims of child abuse, what agency and what kind of services to be provided because we know that in our respective agencies we don’t have all the services that cater to child abuse cases, so we do referrals to other agencies,” she said. Casallo stated that under the process flow of referring cases, any child abuse cases can be reported to the police, OCSWADO, the Commission on Human Rights, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, the National Bureau of Investigation or any member-agency of the ACAN.
The ACAN started as a network whose advocacy is to fight child abuse, and is already on its 17th year and it has increased its membership from 15 to 19 member-agencies. She likewise disclosed that reported cases of child abuse increased especially in the schools because of the advocacy being conducted in schools and the communities in the area including nearby communities of Region 1. Meanwhile, Marilyn Abratique of the CHR who has been working with ACAN for a long time, said that with the ACAN, the referral system has become a ulti-disciplinary intervention, meaning all the services a child abuse victim needs are all there from investigation, legal, medical, psychological, rehabilitation. The other member agencies of the ACAN include the Department of Justice (DOJ), Baguio General Hospital (BGH), Save Our School Children Foundation Inc. , Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Education (DepED), Liga ng mga Barangay ng Pilipinas, Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Child and Family Service Philippines, Inc. CFSPI), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Safe Harbor International Philippines Foundation (SHIP) (JDP/MAWC- PIA CAR).
Coping Strategies When faced with a difficult situation, children “cope” by coming to an understanding (possibly distorted) about what is happening and dealing with the flood of hurtful emotions. Their strategies can involve feelings, thoughts, or actions (Baker, 2009). According to (Kilburn et. l, 1999) coping is the process of managing external or/and internal demands that tax or exceed the resources of the person. It is a complex and multidimensional process that is sensitive to both the environment and the personality of the individual. There has been relatively little research in the area of coping with the various forms of maltreatment. Morrow and Smith (1995) conducted a qualitative study of coping in women who experienced childhood sexual abuse.
In-depth interviews revealed a variety of “survival and coping” strategies, which were subjectively grouped into two categories: (a) keeping from being overwhelmed by threatening and dangerous feelings and (b) managing helplessness, powerlessness, and lack of control. In another study using structured interviews, Ward (1998) found that nearly all of the adolescent victims of sexual assault used psychological defense mechanisms.
On the basis of the interview responses, the investigator identified the following types of defense mechanisms: (a) repression, the exclusion of threatening or painful thoughts and experiences from conscious awareness; (b) emotional insulation, discussion of sexual victimization in a detached manner and/or emotinal withdrawal from painful or potentially painful relationships: (c) rationalization, providing reason for sexual victimization and/or justification of victims’ behaviors which may be interpreted by others as provocative or deserving of sexual assault; and (d) ntellectualization, managing the stressful situation as an abstract problem requiring analysis. Rew et al. (1991) found that sexually abused men were more likely than sexually abused women to use coping strategies that keep stress under control without addressing the problem directly (i. e. , hoping for improvement, resigning oneself to a fateful situation withdrawing, and letting someone else solve the problem).
Rew and colleagues also found that students who were sexually abused during childhood were more likely than their non-abused counterparts to cope with the problems using affective responses such as worrying, getting angry, and taking tensions out on others. Male survivors of contact sexual abuse scored significantly lower on well-being than did both abused women and non-abused participants. Most of the research on copiung with maltreatment has been with victims of sexual abuse.
An illustrative study conducted by Zimrin (1986) demonstrates the possible association between different childhood coping styles and subsequent adjustments in victims of childhood physical abuse. Zimrin conducted a long-term follow-up investigation of children who were physically abused, in which he differentiated the childhood coping mechanisms of adult individuals who appeared well-adjusted and individuals who manifested a high degree of psychosocial psychopathology.
In his follow-up study, childhood coping mechanisms and adjustment were assessed by observations of the children in school, questionnaire administered to teachers and community services staff, psychosocial testing, and a 14-year follow-up interview with the participants by social workers.
As children, the well adjusted victims of physical abuse were more likely than the poorly adjusted victims to take initiative and influence their own destiny have a higher self-image of themselves, display fewer instances of self destructiveness, have good-to-outstanding cognitive abilities, have high manifestations of hope and fantasy, exhibit belligerent behavioral patterns, and have a supporting adult. Types of Coping Strategies Sigmon et al. 1996) found avoidance coping was the most frequently used strategy by both male and female children who were sexually abused. (English, 2008) list the following coping strategies uner avoidant which are dissociation, splitting, fragmentation of personality, and denial. (Kilburn et. al, 1999) enumerate and define the different types of coping strategies. Positive Appraisal is the reframing a situation to see it in a positive light.
Positive reappraisal has been significantly and independently associated with increase in positive affect. Problem-focused or approach coping happens when efforts are directed at solving or managing the problem that is causing the stress. It includes strategies for gathering information, making decisions, planning, and resolving conflicts. This type of coping effort is usually directed at acquiring resources to help deal with the underlying problem and includes instrumental, situation specific, and task-oriented actions.
Emotion-focused or avoidant coping is coping that is directed at managing or reducing emotional distress, which includes cognitive strategies such as looking on the bright side, or behavioral strategies such as seeking emotional support, having a drink, or using drugs. Meaning-focused coping involves searching for meaning in adversity and drawing on values, beliefs, and goals to modify the meaning given to and personal response to stressful situation. Coping Strategies commonly observed in childreen and teenagers Baker, (2009) lists the following common coping strategies chilren and teenagers used.
She added that coping styles vary with age. Mental Blocking or Disconnecting Emotionally includes numbing emotions or blocking thoughts, tuning out the noise, learning not to hear it, being oblivious, concentrating hard to believe they are somewhere else, and drinking alcohol or using drugs Some children make it better through fantasy that they plan to revenge on abuser, fantasizing about killing him, fantasizing about a happier life, living with a different family, fantasizing about abuser being “hit by a bus”, and hoping to be rescued, by super heroes or police or “Prince Charming”.
Going into another room, leaving the house during a violent episode, finding excuses to avoid going home, and running away from home is under the physical avoidance strategy. Looking for love and acceptance in all the wrong places are usually the reason why they fall in with bad friends, having sex for the intimacy and closeness, and trying to have a baby as a teenager or getting pregnant as a teen to have someone to love you. Abused children don’t want that their younger brothers and sisters to be abused by the perpetrators that’s why they are taking charge hrough caretaking their brothers and sisters from danger, nurturing brothers and Sisters like a surrogate mother / taking the “parent” role, and nurturing his or her mother. Reaching out for help like telling a teacher, neighbor, or friend’s mother, calling the police, and talking to siblings, friends, or supportive adults. Crying out for help consist of suicidal gestures, self-injury, and lashing out in anger / being aggressive with others / getting into fights. Some teenagers re-direct their emotions into positive activities like sports, running, fitness, writing, journaling, drawing, acting, being creative, and excelling academically.
Childhood Avoidant Coping Strategies A child who experiences extreme abuse has few coping mechanisms at his ore her disposal. Understanding and experienced may overwhelm the child’s coping mechanisms. In the absence of effective coping skills, the child’s most likely option for psychologically surviving the abuse is to dissociate or shut off the experience from his/her consciousness (Henderson et. al, 2006). Dissociation refers to the mental processes that create a lack of connection in the person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions or sense of self (Amir and Lev-Wiesel, 2007; Reber and Reber, 2001).
Traumatized children use a variety of dissociative techniques. In this dissociating, the child alters the normal links between thoughts, feelings and memories ( Briere, 1992) and so decreases awareness of, and numbs the pain of distressing events (Putnam, 1985). Dissociation is commonly referred to as being ‘spaced out’, ‘blocking things out’ and ‘being out of touch with one’s emotions’. Infants and young children commonly employ a variety of dissociative responses such as: numbing, avoidance, and restricted affect.
Children report going to a ‘different place’, ‘assuming the persona of heroes or animals’, a sense of ‘ watching a movie that was in ‘or ‘ just floating’. Observers will report these children are numb, robotic, non-reactive, ‘daydreaming’, ‘acting like he was not there’ or ‘staring off into space with a glazed look ‘(Perry et al. , 1995) Splitting is often related to abuse and appears to be a mechanism by which people can preserve some semblance of happiness in the face of very negative experiences. Splitting refers to the failure to integrate the positive and negative ualities of self or others into cohesive images (Mounier and Andujo, 2003). People would split representations struggle with highly polarized ‘black or white’ but not grey ‘views of others and self; people are viewed as either entirely good or bad (Dombeck, 2008; Reber and Reber, 2001). Originally, this idea was used to describe how a child deals with the presence of both good and bad in an abusive parent by creating distinct categories in their mind between good mother or father or bad mother or father (Mollon, 2002). Child abuse often violates the trust which forms the core of the child’s relationship with the world.
The child’s attempts to reorganize his or her understanding of his or her world often exceed his or her cognitive-affective abilities. Rather than experience the complete cognitive paralysis or disintegration which can occur from such a severe disruption to the child’s world, the child use denial, a defense mechanism that simply denies thoughts, feelings, wishes or needs that cause anxiety. Denial seems to be the minds way of staving off complete dysfunction precipitated by overwhelming trauma (Walker, 1994). Denial may enable an individual to survive a function until a time at which he or she is able to come to terms with the events.
In this context the term ‘denial’ describes unconscious operations that ‘deny’ that which cannot be dealt with consciously (Reber and Reber, 2001). Adults who recall traumatic events from their childhood, previously unavailable to recall are said to have “recovered” or “repressed” memories. This is also called ‘traumatic amnesia’. Thomson (1995) explains repressed memory as “an unconscious mechanism that protects the ‘self’ from being overwhelmed by the memories of the traumas by quarantining those experiences from consciousness” (Henderson, 2006).
Traumatic amnesia may last for hours, weeks or years recall can be triggered by sensory or affective stimuli reminiscent of the original event. The debate on “recovered memories” and “false memories” dominated media coverage child abuse for much of the 1990’s. In the media, proponents of the “false memory” position argued that there was no evidenced for traumatic amnesia, and that “recovered memories” of sexual abuse were unreliable, and often the product of overly zealous therapist, and hysterical, malicious or confabulating women. Over the last ten year, this debate has become less heated, since the science has ncreasingly affirmed the existence of traumatic amnesia and the reliability of “recovered memories” (Dallam,2001). Traumatic amnesia and delayed memory retrieval of traumatic events has widely documented for almost 100 years, was scientifically accepted in the context of war, accident or disasters (Van Der Kolk and Fisher, 1995; sited in Henderson). The concept only became controversial when it referred to child sexual abuse (Henderson, 2006). By the mid 1980’s a significant body of research had built up indicating that many adult survivors of child abuse also suffer from traumatic amnesia.
Many people abuse in childhood do not remember anything about their experiences for many years, while others recall some but not all of the details of the abuse (Dallam, 2001). Extensive research on traumatic amnesia points to the significance of the victim’s age at the time of the abuse as well as the duration of the abuse. More recent evidence suggests that amnesia is more likely to occur when the child is dependent on the abuser for survival (Henderson, 2006). One of the most definitive studies on delayed recall was a non-clinical sample of adult survivors whose sexual histories had been documented at the time of the abuse (William, 1994).
Between 1973 and 1975, two hundred six girls aged 10 months to 12 years had been examined after a report of sexual abuse. Seventeen years later, 38% of one hundred twenty nine of the two hundred six subjects (i. e. those could that be located) had not recalled the abuse when interviewed. Reframing Strategies When avoiding reality becomes impossible children may construct a rationale to justify their abuse. One common reaction is that children believed that they are bad and deserve to be punished i. e. f, ‘she is bad and can become good’ then there is some meaning and hope for the future (Herman, 2001; sited in Henderson, 2006). To maintain hope and meaning, a child will often preserved faith in her/ his parents or care givers, constructing explanations which absolve them from blame and responsibility and so accommodate primary attachment to her parent (Henderson, 2006).
Minimization is the reduction of an experienced to the smallest possible effect (Ostler, 1969). It is often used a coping strategy for children surviving abuse when denial fails (Henning et. l, 2005). Another common coping strategy that children in abusive environments employ is to adopt pleasing or appeasing behaviors (Mannen, 2006). As Herman (1992) explains, many children, convinced of their powerlessness and the futility of resistance, develop a belief in the perpetrator’s absolute powers over them. The child tries to prove his/her loyalty and compliance and gain control and the only way possible, by trying to ‘be good’ (Herman,1992). Unable to establish a sense safety, abused children frequently seek external sources of comfort ad solace.
Abused children often paradoxically seek the affection of the individuals who abused. The underlying fragmentation becomes central to personality organization, preventing integration of knowledge, memory, emotional states and bodily experience (Henderson, 2006). A framework to understand coping with childhood abuse A study by Morrow and Smith (1995) explored the coping strategies used by female survivors of childhood sexual abuse, through childhood and into adulthood. Morrow and Smith (1995) posit that a child experiencing abuse feels overwhelmed by threatening or dangerous feeling; and helpless, powerless and lacking in control.
These feelings produced two parallel core strategies for survival and coping. Strategies to prevent the child from being overwhelmed by threatening and dangerous feelings include reducing the intensity of troubling feelings, avoiding or escaping the feeling, substituting less threatening feelings for the overwhelming once, discharging or releasing feelings, not knowing or remembering experiences that generated threatening feelings, dividing overwhelming feelings into manageable parts.
Strategies to manage helplessness, powerlessness and lack of control are the follows; creating resistance strategies, reframing abuse to create an illusion of control or power, attempting to master the trauma, attempting control other areas of life besides trauma, seeking confirmation or evidence from others, and rejecting power/ authority. These strategies, adopted by children who do not have the cognitive skills to process overwhelming feelings of grief, pain and rage, are used by survivors into adulthood (Morrow and Smith, 1995).
Scott (2012), listed and define the following effective coping strategies which are Calming Coping Strategies, Emotion-Focused Coping Strategies, and Solution-Focused Coping Strategies. Calming Coping Strategies is use you feel physically and emotionally taxed, and if you don’t reverse your stress response, after a while you become susceptible to the effects of chronic stress. These strategies try to calm you down quickly, or these 5 minute stress relief strategies for some quick coping strategies.
Emotion-Focused Coping Strategies are divided into two main types: emotion-focused coping strategies and solution-focused coping strategies. The calming coping strategies mentioned above are a quick version of the former type—emotion-focused coping strategies—but there are more in-depth emotion-focused strategies that can help with many of the major stressors that people face. These include coping strategies like maintaining a sense of humor and cultivating optimism, where the situation doesn’t change, but your perception of it does.
These strategies are great to use in many of the situations you’ve mentioned where you have little ability to control what happened, and you need to see your stressors as a challenge instead of a threat, or change the way you respond to your circumstances in order to diffuse some of the stress involved. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to change a situation, but often you’ll find an opportunity to take action and actually change the circumstances you face. These types of solution-focused coping strategies can be very effective for stress relief; often a small change is all that’s required to make a huge shift in how you feel.
For one thing, one change can lead to other changes, so that a chain reaction of positive change is created, opportunities are opened up, and life changes significantly. Also, once action is taken, the sense of being trapped with no options—a recipe for stress—can dissipate quickly. It’s important to be thoughtful about which actions to take, as each situation may call for a unique solution, but a less-stressed mind can more easily choose the most beneficial course of action.