Adverse Childhood Experiences: Dysfunctional Households.

To conlude our series on ACEs, today we are going to consider dysfunctional families. If you’ve ever seen some TV shows or movies, in some of them they try to portray a dysfunctional family in action. The only problem is that these movies often trivializes these types of families and makes light of the situation. In real life, a dysfunctional family is no laughing matter.Families caught in the cycle of dysfunction often face serious abusive issues like alcohol abuse, drug abuse, domestic violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. This type of environment can be toxic to children, and unfortunately, family problems never end there.

Children of dysfunctional families tend to carry on the cycle of dysfunction into their own lives and into their own families. A dysfunctional family is one that is mired in conflict, chaos, a lack of structure, or indifference so that the child’s physical and emotional needs cannot be met. Life in a dysfunctional family is emotionally tumultuous. Relationships between members of the family are typically tense. Abuse, neglect, and secrecy are common, and yelling or screaming are often the only means of communication. Some dysfunctional family examples are:

-In a two-parent household, the dad has a drinking problem. When he comes home drunk, he physically abuses anyone and everyone who gets in his way. The next morning, he reminds the family that what happens in their house stays in their house, and they should never tell anyone what goes on there.

-Both parents are addicted to drugs. The oldest child must routinely step up to help with the little ones. That child cleans the house, makes dinner for her siblings, and makes sure they do their homework every night.

-A single mother treats her oldest child like a best friend and a confidant. The mother relies on this child for her emotional needs, and she doesn’t like it when the child goes out with and socializes with her own friends. What then happens is that the family roles in these households are usually reversed.

Children are more in charge of their own daily lives when their dysfunctional parents are unable to do so​ and they are ruled by a dictator parent, who has no regard to the wishes or feelings of the other family members​. The dominant parent is demanding but gives very little back in terms of love, support, and positive reinforcement. The children’s mistakes and shortcomings often have severe consequences, including yelling and spanking.

If you recognize some of the signs of dysfunctional family behavior listed above, you may already recognize their effects on you. However, it can be a long process for some to see these signs.Having low self-confidence or low self-esteem are examples of how your family can disrupt your life. Social anxiety and unexplained aches and pains can even be part of it.It’s common for these traits to repeat themselves throughout generations. Your parents may have picked up on cues from their parents, which their parents picked up from their family. Many of us even grow up thinking that our dysfunctional families’ behavior is normal.

Whichever form of family dysfunction affects your home life, understand that you can overcome these issues. You don’t need to let them ruin your life. Here are some powerful steps that can help you heal from a dysfunctional upbringing.

1) Adopt brain healthy habits: Even if your brain bears the emotional scars of childhood abuse, you can improve your brain function, which will enhance every area of your life.

2)Find a support network. If your family unit isn’t there for you, find friends, a church group, a support group, or a therapist who can be a good listener and be there for you when you need help.

3)Work on relationship skills. Even though you didn’t grow up with healthy relationships, you can learn to develop strong bonds with others.

4)Stop being a victim. When you are a victim, you are powerless to change anything. Only when you take responsibility for your own behaviors can you gain the power to make changes.

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Adverse Childhood Experiences: Children Neglect.

Today we are considering the aspect of neglect in ACEs. In simple terms, neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs and the most common form of child abuse. A child might be left hungry or dirty, or without proper clothing, shelter, supervision or health care. This can put children and young people in danger and it can also have long term effects on their physical and mental wellbeing.

Neglect can be a lot of different things, which can make it hard to spot. But broadly speaking, there are 4 types of neglect.

1) Physical neglect:A child’s basic needs, such as food, clothing or shelter, are not met or they aren’t properly supervised or kept safe.

2)Educational neglect:A parent doesn’t ensure their child is given an education.

3)Emotional neglect:A child doesn’t get the nurture and stimulation they need. This could be through ignoring, humiliating, intimidating or isolating them.

4)Medical neglect:A child isn’t given proper8 health care. This includes dental care and refusing or ignoring medical recommendations.

Neglect changes childhood. Children who’ve been neglected might experience short-term and long-term effects. These can include: problems with brain development, taking risks like running away from home, using drugs and alcohol or breaking the law,getting into dangerous relationships,difficulty with relationships later in life, including with their own children,a higher chance of having mental health problems including depression.

Any child can suffer neglect. But some children and young people are more at risk than others. These include children who are born prematurely, have a disability, have complex health needs, are in care, are seeking asylum. Other problems and life circumstances can make it harder for parents and carers to meet their child’s needs. When one or more of these issues occur, it can put a child at risk of neglect.

The picture below will show you how to identify signs of neglect in a child.

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Adverse Childhood Experiences: Considering Abuse

Child abuse is the willful infliction of pain and suffering on children through physical, sexual, or emotional mistreatment. The term child abuse normally referred to only physical mistreatment, but since then its application has expanded to include, in addition to inordinate physical violence, unjustifiable verbal abuse; the failure to furnish proper shelter, nourishment, medical treatment, or emotional support; incest and other cases of sexual molestation or rape; and the use of children in prostitution or pornography.

We are going to consider three types of abuse:

1)Physical abuse: This occurs when a child’s body is injured as a result of hitting, kicking, shaking, burning or other show of force. One study suggests that about 1 in 20 children has been physically abused in their lifetime.

2)Sexual abuse: This is any sexual activity that a child cannot understand or consent to. It includes acts such as fondling, oral-genital contact and genital and anal intercourse. It also includes exhibitionism, voyeurism, and exposure to pornography. Studies suggest that up to one in five girls and one in 20 boys will be sexually abused before they are 18 years old. More than 90 percent of child sexual abuse victims know their abuser.

3) Emotional abuse: This abuse involves controlling another person by using emotions to criticize, embarrass, shame, blame, or otherwise manipulate them.The underlying goal of emotional abuse is to control the other person by discrediting, isolating, and silencing them. It is one of the hardest forms of abuse to recognize as it can be subtle and insidious. But it can also be overt and manipulative.

There are many things that can cause child abuse. The reasons are often complex, and there’s no single or simple explanation.Most parents want to love and care for their child in a safe home. Stress, tiredness or lack of parenting skills or family support make the pressures of caring for a child overwhelming, and can cause abuse.

Some major causes are; stress, financial pressures, job worries, medical problems or caring for a family member with a disability, unrealistic expectations, a lack of understanding about a child’s developmental stages and behaviour, lack of parenting skills parents may not know how to care for their child or may believe it is acceptable to use excessive physical force to discipline or punish a child, drug, alcohol or gambling problems.The picture below will show you signs to identify an abused child.

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Briefing On Project Mangamba

Hello just in case you may be wondering what H4AB has been up to lately, we want to update you on our recent activities and ongoing project in the village of Mangamba. Our founder was led to this village at the beginning of this year for a different project she had in mind and once she got in touch with the population, she took note of their multiple needs and from that moment decided to bring help and support so as to meet those various needs to a certain extent.

Mangamba is a village situated in Moungo which is a district found in the Littoral region of Cameroon, with a population of about 1500 people majorly constituted of IDPs from the North west and South west region of Cameroon because of the ongoing anglophone crisis.

Some of the challenges faced in this village are; no electricity, no running water,difficult accesibility due to poor roads, lack of basic education, children with no birth certificates etc. Based on this, on our previous visits to the village, H4AB has been offering supportive services like; providing basic necessities like food and clothing, solar lamps for widows and psychosocial support to IDPs.

It has been a great experience so far and lot of people have really been of help through their various contributions and currently we are working on establishing 100 birth certificates for children in the village and we will gratefully welcome your support or donations.

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Let’s talk about Depression and Stigma.

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. You may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes you may feel as if life isn’t worth living.Although depression may occur only once during your life, people typically have multiple episodes. During these episodes, symptoms occur most of the day, nearly every day and may include:Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessnessAngry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small mattersloss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies or sports, sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much,reduced appetite and weight loss or increased cravings for food and weight gain, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or self-blame. Many people with depression don’t seek help for it. In part, the unwillingness to seek help may have to do with the stigmas often attached to it. People with depression may try to hide their feelings, afraid that folks will:-Judge them differently-Treat them differently-Avoid them altogetherAll this is often caused by the stigma surrounding mental health issues. In some regions in Africa people say things like depression are only meant for ” white people” so an African cannot talk about depression because he normally has to be strong.The problem with stigma is, it can be a barrier to recovery, increase depression, reduce self-esteem, reduce recovery orientation, reduce empowerment and increase perceived devaluation and discrimination, among other consequences.Today we want you to undertand that depression is real and we encourage you to check on your loved ones who show such symptoms and if you need professional help, you can always reach out to us.

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Meeting Aminata: Our founder’s tale of resilience and sisterhood

#downmemorylane #gritandgrace #resilience #migrantlife #studentlife #foreigners #sisterhood

I met Aminata Ba in January 2015 when I moved into a students’ flat in Brussels shared by 3 of us. I can’t say exactly the mental space I was in, but I was back to taking antidepressants. when I even look at my Google photos, there is only one clear photo from January 2015 which is of me in school looking irritated someone took it to begin with. Ami and I took no picture together in the 4 months we lived together, life then was all about trying to stay alive and hustle to pay bills and eat even if once a day (I could care less tbt). Six years later, we meet, can sit down for hours over breakfast and update each other on our milestones after a walk  in the hood, and I returned home 4 hour later so happy for all. I listened to Ami with rapt attention, I could feel the joy in her too. I share this to inspire, motivate and encourage.

#dontgiveup #thereishope

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