Karen answers Rocky

Comment by Rocky on January 2, 2009 4:44 am

Dear Karen,

I have read your story and I cannot begin to understand the horrors you endured as a child. I am truly sorry no one came to your aid. I write to you today because I am around children a lot of the time, especially girls. I want to be aware of what I need to look for in these kids as signs of abuse. In the book you mention kids that are withdrawn into their self. What are some other signs I can look for? I really appreciate any insight you can offer. I want to thank you for allowing your story to be told and I wish you all the best.


Dear Rocky,

Thank you for your kind thoughts and for caring about all children.  It’s true no one paid attention to the signs I may have displayed as an abused child, and I believe many signs were ignored out of ignorance.  I felt different than other children.  I never seemed to fit in.  While my classmates and friends laughed, played, and enjoyed the simplicity of being a child, I couldn’t.  I always wondered how most of them were able to be free and live their lives without the fear.  I appeared distant, insecure, and sad most of the time.  I can’t really explain all that made me different, but one thing that comes to mind is the constant feeling of being unclean, unloved, and ugly.  I believe these traits caused my sadness, and truthfully, who would want to be friends with someone who is sad all the time?  Should these signs have been noticed and inquired about by the adults around me?  I think so.

I am not a therapist and can’t give advice.  I can share what I’ve experienced and what I believed to be signs. In my opinion, based on my past, I believe some of the signs to watch for are children with low self esteem, children who appear sad and withdrawn, children who are jumpy when approached, and those afraid to look you in the eye.  Be aware of children who are constantly on the defense and always make excuses because they feel guilty about everything.  I needed to be perfect out of fear of being further abused.  I would blame myself for everything and always apologized, even when not at fault.

There are other signs that are more sexual in nature.  Some abused children have adult-like thoughts that are misunderstood and may be acted upon.  Some children may inappropriately want to touch you, and become hurt if you reject them.

It is my hope some of this may help. There are many more resources on this topic you can find with little trouble.  What’s most important is to be the caring adult, pay attention, and be aware.  It’s important not to jump to conclusions and accuse anyone without facts, but when a child does share that he or she has been abused, never ignore what the child tells you.  I believe children don’t make up stories of being abused unless they were.

Thank you for caring about the lives of the children you work with.



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