In my ‘Parental Responsibilities’ article last week I identified 8 keys responsibilities that parents have towards their children. Failure of the parent to meet these specific needs can have wide-ranging and long lasting negative effects.
I promised that I would take each key responsibility and discuss each one in turn expanding on it with my own experiences.
My purpose in doing so is to bring awareness of what is happening behind some ‘closed doors’ and to show the devastating effect of not providing your child with the basics. I will share with you the effect of not doing so decades down the line.
The 1st Key responsibility is to provide the child with safety/security……
Merrian-Webster (2013) defined safety or security as “the condition of being safe from undergoing or causing hurt, injury or loss” Simply put, safety means freedom from both potential and actual threats to one’s health, life, finances, environment, etc. Safety gives an individual the assurance that he/she can live his/her own life without having to experience unnecessary hurt, injury or loss.
Safety can mean:
1. A ‘physical’ safe place e.g. having a roof over your head
As a child from a broken home I moved ‘home’ nine times……..this was very unsettling and caused me a lot of anxiety and stress…..I never knew where I would end up sleeping, I needed roots, I needed a consistent and safe place to live and sleep. When I left home at 16 my goal was to earn enough money to put a roof over my head and keep a roof over my head. I worked 3 jobs to make this happen. I vowed I would not bring a child of my own into this world until I had security. I needed to be married, have my own house and money in the bank. I did not want my children having the worry of being unsettled. Life is hard enough without the basics not being in place. Even to this day at the age of 43 this is one of the overriding beliefs/feelings. I will not jeopardise the security of losing my home ever. Phil and I have lived in the same house since 1996 and I can sleep easy at night. Being successful to me means having a home that no-one can take away from me.
2. A ‘feeling’ of being safe in someone’s company
I met my husband Phil when I was 15 in 1985. As soon as I saw him I knew he was the one for me. I have recently spilt from my first boyfriend who I thought was the love of my life at the time but he cheated on me and I was heart broken. I knew my next boyfriend needed to be of a certain character…..I was looking long term.
Phil was and more recently I have come to realise he is – the love of my life. He was my knight in shining armour. Even though we were young (I felt very mature and wise for my years at 15) I felt very safe in Phil’s company.
A few year’s down the line when my relationship was ‘threatened’ my ‘safety’ was threatened.
We were young in many people’s eyes, far too young for a serious relationship in many people’s eyes.
Phil was very good looking and girls would flirt with him, most of them did not get under my skin I just laughed it off. But two particular incidences were too close for comfort and like a tigress I protected my ‘safety’ by fighting back physically to show that I was worthy of keeping my prize (my boyfriend). I warned one girl off and had a fight with another.
3. Being free from anxiety and/or fear in relation to your own survival mentally and physically
The constant abuse that my siblings and I suffered was physically, mentally & emotionally draining. We all wet the bed, we all were frightened off our own shadows. We lived on our nerves. We woke up at the slightest sound and we were scared. We were cold and hungry and sad.
Parents play a huge role in respect to safety or security for their children. Being the primary caretakers of their children, they are supposed to be the first persons to provide a safe environment for them. A “safe” environment means a living environment where all forms of abuse against children (physical, emotional, psychological, sexual etc) are non-existent.
But this can be breached when the parents themselves are guilty of abusing their own children. When a child experiences any form of abuse from his own parents, the concept of safety becomes alien to him/her. If he/she cannot trust his/her own parent, then who can they trust?
Examples of physical abuse include:
• Hitting with or without instruments
• Pushing or holding down
Examples of emotional abuse include:
• Calling you names in a hurtful, harmful way
• Yelling in a threatening manner
• Threatening to harm you
• Not letting you call or see friends or family, keeping control of you
My siblings and I were abused as children. My step mum would often line us up, ask us to hold our hands out and hit us with a stick, if we flinched and moved our hands back slightly to decrease the impact of the hit, she would hit us again. The emotional anticipation of being hit was often more traumatic than being hit itself. She would often mock us and say “are you going to be a cry baby now, go on let me see your tears”. Over time she saw no tears because this was a sign of weakness however all that anger and frustration of not being able to hit back was internalised and had consequences as we grew older. We either hit back at people to protect ourselves or we self-harmed or both.
Abused children may grow up thinking that being abused is normal. He/she may therefore spend his /her life getting involved in abusive relationships.
But the good news is that the abused person can actually do something about it. He/she must speak up and ask for help – silence allows the abuse to continue. The abused person can talk to a teacher, a relative, a family friend or any other adult that he can trust. Staying silent will never help.
Back in the eighties and nineties we spoke up many times but the right person(s) was not listening.
Our schools, other adults and social services failed us.
We seemed to be a forgotten generation……a generation where ABUSE was not mentioned, it was brushed under the carpet.
I started to put my story together in Feb 2012 long before the Jimmy Saville case was coming to light. My aim is to speak out and raise awareness of what is going on behind closed doors now and decades ago.
Just because the abuse happened decades ago does not mean that the victims can just move on with their lives straight away. They have suffered a trauma which needs to be recognised by them and the people around them. So that they can get help for themselves and to prevent their abusers carrying on with their grooming and abuse of other innocent children.
This is WHY I am speaking out in my book “Through The Eyes Of A Child” by Chris Tuck
Abuse is always wrong and sometime illegal. You can protect yourself from all types of abuse by contacting a local group that can help you keep SAFE. There are laws to protect you; you have a right to be SAFE.
In 2013 help, advice, guidance and support is readily available. There are lots of groups and charities that you can access on the internet and many of them have a freephone number.
• Call your local domestic violence unit
• Call the police
• Call NSPCC
• Call the Samaritans
They will be able to help you or put you in touch with people who can.
Until the next article,
Be true to yourself :O)
“Breaking The Cycle” – With the Survival School; Health For Your Mind & Body
Marrian-Webster, Incorporated. (2013). Safety. Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved March 29,2013, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/safety.
Chris Tuck – “Through The Eyes Of A Child” available soon. Register your interest for a copy of the book @ http://www.christuckmystory.com