Surviving The Coronavirus Quarantine In An Abusive Or Dysfunctional Home
contributed by Steve Simpson, powerpublishingcorp.com
As a former abused child of an alcoholic, one of the things I realized early on was that the more time I spent with my father the abuser, the better chances there were of me getting abused. Which is why I tried at all costs to avoid him, even instinctively learning to eat really fast to get away from the table. During my father’s rampages, I learned to hide (I became very talented at hide and seek with other kids as a result) and tried to get out of the house as much as I could.
Although I was both physically and verbally abused, the verbal abuse had far more damaging effects on my self-esteem making me what I would call a ‘Z student’ the opposite of an A student. Because of all the hopelessness and constant verbal battering of him I was suicidal from the time I was 11 years old on and began running away at 12.
Fortunately for me I ended up in foster care until my mom was able to establish herself in a new home, independent of my father. During that time I got involved in self-help groups, I learned early on that even the so-called ‘smart kids’ in the group were called the same names my father called me proving that it didn’t make a difference who his child was, he would have abused them also; and that it was never my fault which is something many abused children think. An abuser abuses their victims not because of the actions of their victims but because they are an abuser.
Eventually, I gained self-esteem and literally went from being a ‘Z student’ to an ‘A student!’ I went from being a teacher’s nightmare to getting a big smile when I would enter the classroom. I realized early on that there are many other young people who don’t do well in school simply because they had a damaged self-esteem as a result of abuse at home which is why I’ve spent most of my life speaking to schools and the media and writing giving a message of hope.
I know how reluctant I might have been as a child to directly take any written information about abuse, suicide or low self-esteem for fear of being embarrassed, so when I wrote The Teenage and Young Adult Survival Handbook I put it as an insert in my four young adult fiction novels so that now if a concerned adult or peer wanted to give lifesavinginformation to a teenager or young adult they can do so without a confrontation. The premise could be you would give them the fiction novel and a young person could ask for the information without being embarrassed as well.
With the current COVID-19 crisis we are facing a time where schools are closed and many parents are home from work. The dangerous part of this that I know all too well as that now in a dysfunctional or abusive home the victims are trapped with their abuser. They can’t even leave the house to go to a movie or park. Not only does this bring up abuse but it causes a kind of ‘hostage situation’ for children.
Unfortunately, like I thought when I was younger, many of them will think this situation is not going to end and will become desperate. When that happens depression, anxiety and thoughts of suicide plague the young person’s mind. Also, in this crisis, alcoholism and drug abuse among parents increases which can increase child abuse.
To any adults whether they be grandparents, or aunts and uncles, if you know this could be happening a suggestion is to try to get the children to stay with you at least until the crisis is over. For teachers once school does resume, if you see that any of your students seem to be distracted, agitated or just not the same, please don’t automatically think it’s because of the health crisis; it might very well be a lasting result of the abuse that they had to endure during the quarantine. I would suggest letting the school’s social worker or counselor know about this as soon as possible.
My message to young people is that throughout my volunteer work over the years I have known many that have been suicidal, myself included in that category. For those of us that thank God did not die, we all have one thing in common: we were all glad that we lived. Why? Because things always got better. Problems no matter how bad they seem are temporary. If you think of a past problem you had a couple of years ago at the time it might have consumed most of your thoughts and even interrupted your sleep and eating, and yet now that problem is gone and has no control over you and so will this current problem.
Once back in school, I recommend that students speak to their school social worker, psychologist or counselor. I used to think I knew what they were going to say but they had a lot more information and were more helpful than I could have imagined.
While school is still out there are resources available for those that need to reach out such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or National Runaway Safeline 1-800-RUNAWAY.
Remember, your parent’s alcoholism or drug abuse is not your fault. Their fighting with each other is not your fault. And the abuse is not your fault. Once you take the step of getting help and letting others help you things get better a lot faster than you thought possible!
Young Adult Author Steve Simpson has been writing, speaking at schools and called upon by television and radio as an expert regarding children in crisis since the early ’90s. To contact Steve he can be reached at PowerPublishingCorp.com