About two weeks ago I was googling ‘inappropriate affection in children’  (or similar) and I found a document called Parenting a Child Who Has Experienced Abuse or Neglect. Reading through this sixteen (16) page dcoument was a great awakening for me.

First it confirmed the depth of the trauma that Jerry, the boy who lives with me, has suffered in his little life. I mean I knew rationally that a kid who less than a year ago was living in a war zone, not in school, didn’t even own a pair of thongs (flip flops, jandels) would have encountered some forms of neglect or abuse. However it was only in the reading of these lists that I realised the depth and that I needed to be more patient.  Secondly, if I was truly to help him, I needed to get informed in order to be an effective parent.

Listed below are some of the signs of neglect, abuse and trauma outlined in the factsheet. Jerry ticked ‘YES’ to every single item except bed-wetting.

Signs of Neglect

✅ Lacks needed medical or dental care

Signs of Sexual Abuse

✅ Nightmares
✅ Demonstrates bizarre or unusual sexual behaviour
✅ Attaches very quickly to strangers or new adults in their environment

Signs of Emotional Abuse

✅ shows extremes in behaviour, like being overly compliant and then being overly demanding
✅ shows inappropriate grown-up behaviour then swings to inappropriate babyish behaviour
✅ delayed emotional development
✅ lack of attachment to parents or siblings

Signs of trauma

✅ night terrors and fear of going to sleep
✅ anxiety, confusion, agitation, limited attention span
✅ extreme behaviour regarding food: eating ridiculously slow or swinging to stuffing himself to sickness

After I read it I sat back shocked: what has this little boy encountered in his life of only eight years? He rarely talks about it. The document’s conclusion gives me hope …

if you are a parent or caregiver of a child who has experienced maltreatment helping him or her through that pain can be daunting, yet there are resources available to help. It’s important to remember that many children who have been abused or neglected don’t grow up to abuse others and can live happy and healthy lives. You and your family will play an important role in your child’s healing and the more knowledge you acquire about maltreatment and the services available for support, the better prepared you will be to help your child through this difficult time.

My intention for this website is to share the resources I find as well as documenting my experiences as Jerry and I develop into a loving and stable family unit.

You can find out more about Jerry on my website www.lovethepeopleyoumeet.com which contains my poems, images and stories about our life together.

© 2016 Melinda Irvine