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Ask Michelle – Your “Family Therapist” – CHILDHOOD ABUSE

CHILD ABDUCTIONsmby MICHELLE CAVALERI, LCSW-R & Certified NYS Divorce Mediator

Childhood abuse can occur in any family, regardless of its race, religion, or income level.
Abuse has many definitions, and sometimes it can be hard to know whether what you went through as a child was abuse. At the time, the way you were punished or treated may have seemed normal because you were too young to know differently.
Here are some questions to think about. These questions ask about only a few experiences that are generally considered abuse. Do you remember anyone in a position of authority?
• Using extreme discipline or punishment on you?
• Spanking or hitting you so hard that you had bruises, cuts or broken bones?
• Beating or punching you?
• Acting in a way that made you feel uncomfortable powerless?
• Calling you names or abusing you verbally?
• Criticizing or making fun or your physical characteristics, such as your hair,
skin color, body type or a disability?
• Talking to you in a sexual way, watching you undress or bathe, making you watch pornographic pictures or movies, or photographing you in inappropriate ways?
• Touching you sexually or making you touch yourself or someone else sexually?
What symptoms could you have if you were abused –
The effects of childhood abuse may still be with you as an adult. These effects might be part of the reason you feel angry, anxious, ashamed, or depressed and may be part of the reason you may abuse substances. You may –
• Have flashbacks of the abuse
• Have frequent nightmares
• Be sensitive to noise, being touched, or being close to people
• Always expect something bad to happen
• Become angry easily
• Not remember periods of your life
• Abuse others
• Feel numb
• Feel depressed, even suicidal
• Let people abuse or take advantage of you
These problems may get worse or become more intense when you’re stressed or in situations that trigger memories of the abuse, such as when you fight with someone close to you or see a movie or television program that reminds you of a past experience. Know that you are okay –the feelings may seem overpowering, but you can get through them.
If you ever feel like hurting yourself or others or are thinking about suicide, call 911 or the national suicide prevention lifeline at 800-273-8255.
South Shore Counseling & Mediation Center is a full service mental health agency, offering CBT counseling, EFT modalities – (tapping), therapeutic counseling, a variety of behavioral and psycho-educational programs and divorce mediation. To speak with one of our therapists please call 631-286-8282, e-mail us at SSCounseling1@optonline.net or visit our website, Southshorecounselingcenter.net.

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