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Growing up, children seek to be protected, loved, and cared for—a basic human right. Yet that is not always the case. As the rates of harassment, abuse, violence, and anger rise up in this day and age, people fail to see the harm this is doing to the children in the world. Developmentally, children are growing cognitively, emotionally, and socially for many years, and exposure to such negativity impacts them beyond words. I grew up as a child witnessing domestic violence, a victim to emotional, mental, and physical abuse, and over a decade later I still suffer. Jamie Hanson, a professor from the University of Wisconsin released information from her research and studies that showed, "Orphaned children and physically abused children had smaller amygdala and hippocampi at age 12 than children without a history of stress. Those with the smallest amygdala and hippocampi also had the most behavioral problems, like getting in fights or skipping school."
The amygdala is the section of your brain responsible for control of emotions, and as my therapist once told me, "Your amygdala is like a child looking for support and love." Yet the amygdala seems to be the one alarm that many of us seem to snooze eternally.
Another study done on the effect of abuse on children showed that, "Adults with a history of child abuse and neglect are more likely than the general population to experience physical health problems including diabetes, gastrointestinal problems, arthritis, headaches, gynecological problems, stroke, hepatitis and heart disease." The effects of childhood trauma and abuse can lead to lifelong health issues, difficulty building and keeping relationships, increased codependency, and many other debilitating issues. Abuse in any form has lifelong consequences and negative outcomes for even the strongest of people and then think about how much harder that will all be for a child. Children do not ask to be brought into this world, and they do not ask to be stuck in a violent household, exposed to traumatic and sometimes fatal behavior. When exposed to this abuse, whether it be verbal, emotional, physical or any other kind, it sets that child up on a cycle that seems like it will never end. Children exposed to abuse turn into adults who are more likely to commit crimes, be violent, and abuse their loved ones, too.
A study was done that showed that, “Adults with a history of abuse and neglect had a higher likelihood of arrests, adult criminality, and violent criminal behaviour.” Speak up for those who do not have a voice, look around you and be aware—victims of abuse are scared to come out and are worried about the repercussions of saying anything. Children, like myself when I was a victim, sometimes do not even know that they should call for help. Personally, I was always scared that something would happen to my mother, who I had a strong bond with despite the abuse, and I did not know any better. It is easy to hide bruises, scars, and blood if you need to, but the scars of the emotional trauma those events took on you will be there forever and are some of the hardest things to live with. No child should have to witness or be victim to such heinous acts of abuse and we must, as a nation, and as loved ones work together to end this vicious cycle one and for all. If you know someone who has been a victim of childhood abuse, be understanding, empathetic, loving, caring, and do your best to make sure they know that things will be okay. Support the screaming and scared child that once was and still may be inside of them—trauma stays with all of us in different ways.