Editor’s Note: Today’s post was written by a friend of Key Ministry who asked not to be identified by name. Given the personal nature of the post, we’re honoring their request. As Shannon, Jolene and myself have written about trauma in the past, this piece resonates with some of our earlier posts on the topic.
Maybe you’re a pastor. Maybe you care for kids at church or school or daycare. Maybe, as is the law in 18 states, you’re simply an adult.
You’re also a mandatory reporter. By law, you are responsible for alerting authorities if you suspect a child is being neglected, physically abused, emotionally or verbally abused, or sexually abused, whether or not you have absolute proof. Some people fail to do so, out of reasons like offering the benefit of the doubt or not wanting to upset parents with an investigation.
Others, like you, take your role as a mandated reporter seriously. Thank you.
I was one of those kids. I showed warning signs of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, as well as neglect. I even told some teachers and ministry leaders about what was happening to me at home.
The laws might have been different back then. I’m not sure. But I am sure that the moral imperative still existed, as did the biblical mandate to care for the vulnerable. Yet no one helped me. If someone had taken action when I first disclosed my circumstances instead of dismissing my words because my family seemed fine, I believe it would have made a world of difference in my life. Maybe if someone took my words and signs of abuse seriously, I could have been rescued before the abuse escalated and my abuser started coming to my room at night.
This post isn’t about me, though. I’ll be okay. I’m adult now with a strong support network, and I’m working on healing. I’m writing today to make a request for the next kid like me who crosses your path. He or she is the focus of this post. Sometime in the future you will meet another child with warning signs for abuse or neglect, and you’ll have a choice to either report those concerns or talk yourself out of it.
Please. For the sake of the next child, speak up if you see any suspicious indicators.
Maybe you’ll be wrong. If so, the investigation of the family will likely show that, and you will have complied with your legal or moral responsibility.
But maybe you’ll be right. Maybe your action will free a child from future harm. In my case, the abuse would last another decade from the first time I disclosed to a trusted adult who could have helped me but chose to look the other way. How I wish they would have risked being wrong!
If you work with kids, part of your job is keeping them safe. Please, for that child in your case who needs your help and in honor of the child I once was, do your job.
Key Ministry has produced a number of resources to help church leaders respond more effectively to kids and families impacted by trauma. Dr. Grcevich did this series on trauma and kids. Jolene Philo, author of Does My Child Have PTSD?, authored this series on PTSD in children.
We also recommend resources from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network as well as resources for adoptive and foster parents developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Michael & Amy Monroe at Empowered to Connect.
Maybe if anyone had believed me my life would have been different but they all just thought me to be an odd child. Maybe if someone had listened just once I would have placed more value on myself, but no one else did so why should I. Being molested just became a way of life for me. My agents seemed to approve and even dan1032O me off to those who molested yet I was the odd child. But this was in the days when we didn’t talk about these things.
Please listen to the visual clues of a withdrawn child who further withdraws around adults. Watch for the visual clues of withdrawal from childhood and a weary look of stress from a child that should be playing house and not living “playing house”. Look for the physical clues of bruises and you may not see them as quite a few abusers know how to abuse and not leave scars that can be seen. Look for fear of dis pointing you and fear of anger, these are some signs of abuse. The child that has trouble sitting down,or,sitting still because of bruises inflected in the name of discipline. Look for the child who will look for ways to not sleep alone at night because they have the same bad dream every night but won’t tell you what it is; this is a child of abuse.
Abuse is not always about sex or violence but it is about control. With one person inflicting control over another because they feel lack of control in their own life.
Please do not disregard a child’s report of abuse no matter what you have grown to think of the child or the family. No one deserves to be abused; no one. And do we every really outgrow the scars of abuse? We forgive because of grace but the scars remain in our life forever.
Reblogged this on extraordinarily normal.
What do you do when you witness chronic abuse, but Child Protective Services sides with the abuser? The abuser was so good at manipulation that she convinced them that I was another person who had called complaints in before, and they told me that if I contacted them again they would assist her in filing charges against me.