When a man in Israel was accused of sexually abusing his young daughter, it was hard for many people to believe — a neighbor reported seeing the girl sitting and drinking hot chocolate with her father every morning, laughing, smiling, and looking relaxed. Such cases are not exceptional, however. Children react to sexual and physical abuse in unpredictable ways, making it hard to discern the clues.
Now Dr. Carmit Katz of Tel Aviv University’s Bob Shapell School of Social Work has found that when parents are physically abusive, children tend to accommodate it. But when the abuse is sexual, they tend to fight or flee it unless it is severe. The findings, published in Child Abuse & Neglect, help explain children’s behavior in response to abuse and could aid in intervention and treatment.
“All the cases of alleged physical abuse in the study involved parents, while we had very few cases of alleged parental sexual abuse,” said Dr. Katz. “More than the type of abuse, it may be that children feel they have no choice but to endure abuse by their parents, who they depend on for love and support.”
About 3.5 million cases of child abuse are reported in the United States every year. Similarly alarming situations exist in many other countries. Abused children often suffer from emotional and behavioral problems, which can later develop into sexual dysfunction, anxiety, promiscuity, vulnerability to repeated victimization, depression, and substance abuse.
Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education