Abuse of a child comes in many forms, some that parents may not even be consciously aware of. While much media has focused on strangers abusing children, in reality most abuse occurs in the home. In 2009, ABC News reported that 69 percent of abusers were parents of the child and another 19 percent of abusers were a member of the child’s family.
Forms of emotional abuse include persistently putting down a child, making that child feel bad about him or herself, telling them that they’re “crazy,” or that “it would have been better if they hadn’t been born.” Even a constant barrage of aggressive looks, gestures, loud voice, smashing and destroying toys or property is abuse by intimidation. It also is a crime to commit domestic violence in the presence of a child even if the child is in another room in the house.
By one estimate, one out of four girls and one out of seven boys have been sexually abused in some form by their 18th birthdays. Abuse has a life-long effect, increasing the likelihood that a victim of abuse will themselves become a perpetrator to their own children. In 2008, of the 8,284 reports of abuse in Utah, 42 percent were substantiated. According to Prevent Child Abuse Utah, 42 percent of all substantiated abuse was against children between birth and five years old. Forty four percent of the abusers were age 18 to 30 years old.
FCS works with both parents to prevent abuse, improve parenting skills to reduce the disruptive behavior of children, refer parents to respite programs before they commit violence in the home, and address the underlying anger and rage that often proceeds abuse.
At FCS children have a safe and secure environment where they can disclose their fears and emotional damage in order to begin the healing process. FCS counselors help children develop communication approaches that allow for open and honest conversations between family members and address the abuse trauma that often results from violence in and out of the home.