Monthly Archives: November 2015

Battered Child Syndrome

battered child syndrome

The battered child syndrome is a form of child abuse. It is a clinical condition in young children who have experienced severe physical abuse, which often leads to permanent injuries or death. The perpetrator could be anyone – it could be a parent, guardian, relative, neighbor or even a total stranger.

The battered child syndrome should be considered on any child that evidently shows signs of bone fracture, subdural hematoma, failure to thrive, swellings of soft tissues and/or bruising. It should be considered to any child who has developed a degree of trauma due to variance and occurrence of abuse; it should be considered to any child who had died because of child abuse.

Psychiatric factors of battered child syndrome play an important in the pathogenesis of the disorder. Physicians who evaluate abused children are required to conduct a full assessment of the situation and guarantee that the repetition of such traumatic experience will never be allowed.

Battered Children Cases

Keanu Williams. Keanu was a 2-year old child who died in the hands of his ‘monster’ mother who is now paying for her crime in jail today. The toddler suffered from 37 different injuries that included bite marks, a fractured skull and a fist-sized tear in the stomach… he was definitely beaten to death. A post-mortem examination showed that he was repeated hit by a stick or rod which caused him to die from internal bleeding. The judge found Keanu’s mother, Rebecca Shuttleworth, guilty of four counts of child cruelty. ‘He was a defenseless child and it was your duty to protect him. Instead you beat him so severely he died a lingering death from his injuries a day or so later. You have also been convicted of cruelty by failing to summon the medical aid he so badly needed.’ These are just some of the statements that Mr. Justice Spencer told Rebecca Shuttleworth. He even added a tribute to the child by saying, ‘He was a delightful little boy described as a real character, a little entertainer who remained cheerful despite everything.’ It is truly unimaginable what Keanu Williams had to suffer from the outburst of violence of his own mother.

Lauren Kavanaugh. This young girl was tortured beyond imagination by her mother and stepfather. She was given back to her birth mother when she was 20-month old and from then on, she suffered 6 years of torture and starvation. She became known as ‘the girl in the closet’; locked away for so long in the back room of a mobile home. When she was rescued in the year 2001, she only weighed 25.6 pounds at 8 years old. The doctors at Children’s Medical Center Dallas said that she was damaged in ways that they have never seen. She had suffered from extreme depression and developed bipolar disorder… She had undergone all the necessary treatments – years of psychotherapy and hundreds of doctors’ visits. Lauren had indeed suffered a case of extreme child abuse and it is expected that she will have lifelong of emotional problems, long nights of tears and terror, fits of rage… She has suffered a great deal, losing her six key years of growth and development… She does not know her ABC’s, she wasn’t potty-trained, she doesn’t know how to hold a pencil and she doesn’t even know what it’s like to be in the sun. Fortunately, today, Lauren is surviving and thriving… With the help of her treatments and support from her loving adoptive parents, Sabrina and Bill Kavanaugh, Lauren is now talking more, eager to exercise and she shows more interest in learning new things.

Terrell Peterson. He was a 5-year old boy who lived in Atlanta Georgia who was beaten to death. Terrell only weighed 29 pounds and his body was full of cuts, bruises and burns when the authorities recovered his body. His mother was taking drugs while she was pregnant. Terrell’s parents would lock him up in a bedroom during weekends and denied him food. The complaints against his mother led social caseworkers to place Terrell and his siblings, who were also abused in the same way Terrell was, with their blood relatives. However, Terrell was not able to go with his siblings, he was left in the custody of Pharina Peterson – the grandmother of his half-siblings. Another child living in the home of Peterson said that Terrell was tied up often and his nourishment was a far cry from being proper. He was also allegedly burned by Peterson for telling the authorities about her abusive acts; one of Terrell’s teachers in school noticed he wasn’t walking right and inspected his feet only to find that they were burned to the point that it needed skin grafts. The authorities arrested Pharina Peterson and she was indicted on misdemeanor charges.

Stop School Bullying

school bullying

What is School Bullying?

This type of bullying takes place in an educational setting; it takes different forms such as physical, sexual, verbal or emotional. The following are various definitions of school bullying:

  • The intention to harm which means the act is done deliberately and not accidental.
  • Bullying causes the victim to experience distress; he or she can suffer from mild to severe psychological, social and/or physical trauma.
  • Bullying is repetitive; it has the possibility to happen more than once.
  • It involves inequity wherein the bully claims or believes that he or she has more ‘power’ than the victim.
  • It is confrontational and involves aggressive behaviors.

 

Victims and Bullies

School bullying is a common social problem in schools and other educational establishments today. Based on a research conducted by the American Psychological Association, up to 80% of the students may experience bullying at one point in during their education.

School bullying can happen to anyone! This is regardless of age, gender, religion, socioeconomic standing and grade level. However, children who come from a lower socioeconomic background are more prone to bullying than those who come from well-off households.

Moreover, the rate of bullying is significantly higher with homosexual students than heterosexual students. Some even experience an ‘extension’ to school bullying as they continue to be harassed online through aggressive emails and instant messages. A survey done in the year 2013 shows that 20% of the high school students in the US are bullied in school, 15% are harassed online while 8% of students who are between the age of 12 and 18 are continuously bullied every week.

Research suggests that bullies are individuals who experience aggression or violence at home; they are usually people who are diagnosed with depression, anxiety or ADHD. School-aged bullies are said to have a mental health disorder and poor theory of mind. They are usually morally disengaged and are inclined to using egocentric reasoning strategies.

 

Effects of School Bullying

Some people think that bullying is a phase in life that everyone naturally goes through. However, this reasoning doesn’t justify the fact that this abusive act can cause severe damage to the victims. Some children do not accept school bullying and they stand up for themselves, while others are not brave enough and they end up unhappy and afraid. School bullying can affect both the victim and the bully:

Victims

  • They may suffer from mild to severe physical and/or mental health problems.
  • They may become depressed and anxious; they may suffer from sleeping and eating disorders and refuse to participate in daily activities.
  • They may lose interest in school and begin to perform poorly in academic activities; some even end up dropping out of school.
  • A number of reports have shown that school bullying can lead victims to commit suicide or retaliate even to the point of killing their bullies.

Bullies

  • They may develop alcohol and drug problems.
  • They may engage in fights, vandalism and other destructive activities.
  • Some may also drop-out from school.
  • They may engage in sexual activities at an early age and end up getting sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Bullies tend to become abusive toward their partners and children.

Types of Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is any violent or aggressive behavior that takes place within the home; it typically involves abusive behavior toward a spouse or a partner. It can take place in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship that may also extend to the children.

Domestic violence can affect men, women and children but the wife or female partner is more often victimized with such abuse. Some countries, especially those that have witnessed women committing acts of infidelity, consider domestic violence as a justifiable act and may even be codified into law.

This abusive act takes many forms – physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, sexual abuse and verbal abuse. Common examples of domestic violence are marital rape, female genital mutilation, battering and disfigurement. The presence of domestic murders is also prevalent in some areas of the world and it includes bride burning, dowry deaths and stoning.

Different Forms of Domestic Violence

Physical Abuse. This involves physical contact that is intended to cause physical pain, suffering or injury to the victim. The abuser uses force such as hitting, shoving, grabbing, biting, shaking, choking and/or forcing drug or alcohol use. Some perpetrators may even make use of harmful weapons such as a gun or knife. Physical abuse may not result in an injury that requires immediate medical attention, which results to the incident being unreported.

Sexual Abuse. This type of domestic violence involves forcing the victim to have unwanted sexual interaction with the abuser. The perpetrator may conduct unwelcome sexual comments or advances that cause the victim to feel uncomfortable. It may also come in the form of attack against a person’s sexuality through coercion or sexual traffic such as obligatory inspections for virginity or female genital mutilation. During sexual abuse, a victim’s bodily integrity is violated; some of the most common examples of this domestic violence are rape, prostitution, human trafficking and demeaning sexual acts. Moreover, any act that limits a woman’s reproductive rights is also considered as sexual abuse in some countries. Preventing to use contraceptive methods and forcing abortion are considered illegal by some laws.

Psychological Abuse. This is interchangeably referred to as emotional abuse; it is characterized by intimidation, threats and even isolation. Abusers often instill fear to their partners through menacing behavior that may lead to damages in property, constant supervision or controlling behavior that hinders the victim from enjoying his or her freedom. Perpetrators may also threat their victims with injury or perhaps harm the victim’s family or loved ones; they may tell the victim that they will be killed if they try to leave the relationship. Some abusers also isolate their victims from other people; controlling the people whom the victim can interact with. They may also ‘damage’ their victims’ self-esteem through constant criticism, name-calling and other emotionally abusive acts.

Economic Abuse. The abuser makes or attempts to make the victim financially dependent on him or her. His or her intimate partner prohibits the victim from working or getting further education. The victim also may experience extreme controlling behavior by the partner with their financial matters. In some cases, the abuser exploits the economic resources of the victim leaving the latter empty handed. The main motive of economic abusers is to incapacitate their intimate partners from the ability to support oneself; diminishing the victim’s ability to acquire resources and assets. If you are forced to sign documents or sell things, then you are also suffering from economic abuse. Victims of this type of abuse are usually individuals who lack knowledge and education; some mothers and children in India suffer from malnutrition because the father withholds their access to food and other resources.

Sex Slavery

sex slavery

What is Sex Slavery?

Its purpose is to sexually exploit the victim. Sex slavery comes in the form of single-owner sexual slavery, ritual slavery, forced prostitution and non-sexual purposes that involves non-consensual sexual activities. Back in the days, concubinage was the most prevalent form of sexual slavery and it still goes on in some cultures today – women are forced to live their lives in sexual servitude.

Sexual slavery is a form of enslavement as it limits a person’s autonomy, freedom and power to decide – especially matters that involve sexual activities. There are various types of sex slavery including forced marriages, domestic servitude and forced labor that includes sexual activities. Sex slavery constitutes a continuing offense because it involves practices that treat women as servants and thus, violate laws that prohibit slavery.

Confessions of a Sex Slavery Victim

‘I can never forget my past or the cruelty of those men. I’ll never understand it.’

Sreypov Chan is a young Cambodian woman who suffered from sex slavery when she was a young girl… At 7 years old, when most young girls are invited to slumber parties, she was sold to a brothel in Phnom Penh to work as a sex slave. What made her situation worse is that her own mother made the sale. For many years, pimps would force her to have sex with at least 20 men in a day… if she refused or try to run away, Sreypov was punished – burned with a hot poker, covered with biting insects and every unthinkable punishment there is.

Sreypov luckily escaped the brothels when she turned 10; she was able to start a new life and is now ready to talk about her story. Sadly, she is not the only one who has suffered and is continuously suffering from sex slavery today… There are more than 12 million individuals who are victims of forced prostitution and labor around the world.

‘My whole identity was robbed. Unless you’ve been in that position, you can’t understand.’

Meghan Stephens (not her real name) has suffered a similar fate as Sreypov Chan. When she was 14, she fell in love with a man who turned out to be a pimp… Her boyfriend sold her to different men for 6 years. She is now 25 years old and living a life with her true identity revealed in fear that her past will be discovered. When Meghan was being trafficked, she was forced to have sex with multiple partners in a single day. Her boyfriend made her believe that escort work is the only way to raise enough money for them to be together. Meghan grew up in a troublesome household, her parents divorced when she was 4 and her mother was an alcoholic. That is why her mother permitted Meghan to live with her boyfriend. Meghan depended on her boyfriend for everything – she was innocent, in love and very reliant. Meghan lost her confidence which made it even more impossible for her to leave her boyfriend and the life that she lived with him. Her boyfriend also threatened to kill her mother if Meghan would try to leave or escape… Meghan even recalled one particular night when she had sex with 110 men before being violently sick. The owner of the brothel had to close for the night and back then, she thought that the owner was really nice to do that. It only shows that Meghan was really not in the right frame of mind at the time. She felt helpless and she did not want to put her mom in danger so she continued with what she was doing.

Kathleen Frank. She was abused by her father at the age of 10 years old. At least that is the age she woke up to it; Kathleen’s father abused her while she was sleeping.  But later in her years Kathleen started getting flash backs of times when her father was ‘too close’ and certain touches were uncomfortable for her. Shortly after Kathleen realized she was being abused, she became this target of others who also abused her, such as her great grandfather, cousins and her brother. Kathleen told her mother, but her mother refused to believe her.  Perhaps her mother did believe Kathleen but was in denial, in any case Kathleen did not get the protection she needed and felt she had to find ways to protect herself. This is when Kathleen became assertive in her attitude, angry with her abusers, and eventually developed the mind set that the only way someone will love her is to give them what they want. This attitude caused Kathleen to turn toward young men of at least 8 to 20 years older than her for attention and love them in the wrong way. Kathleen had a warped perspective on what love was, and it wasn’t until she was in her later 30’s when she realized how much she needed help. Kathleen sough help; she sought God, it was her way to get a right perspective on love and to know the unconditional love of Christ. Kathleen started journaling her feelings and revelations of her healing process. After 10 years of writing her thoughts, her fears, her healing, Kathleen published her journals in her recent book, ‘I’m Fat and Nobody Cares’. Kathleen’s book tells the world her story in detail in hopes to help others who have had similar experiences. Kathleen was able to receive complete healing of her abuse through her writings and her book has helped thousands of abused women and girls receive healing too.

Defense for Battered Women

defense for battered women

Defense for battered women is used in court for a woman accused of assaulting or murdering her husband or partner because of abuse. There is no medical classification that supports the existence of such ‘syndrome’ but it is still used by lawyers in court to defend the actions of women who have suffered from domestic violence.

Defense for battered women is also commonly referred to as ‘self-defense’; it is a woman’s response to her husband or partner’s abusive act. Due to suffering from constant and severe domestic violence, some women undergo depression and a feeling of helplessness. They are unable to take independent action to escape the abusive acts and they develop fears with regard to social support, financial means and many more.

Battered women also suffer from low self-esteem; they are often led to believe that the abuse is their fault. They develop misplaced feelings and therefore refuse to press charges against their abusive partners. Victims of abuse usually develop psychological disorders that may lead them to kill or harm their abuser. Although there is no medical proof for this that may excuse the alleged offenders, it is still used as a defense for battered women in court.

Defense for Battered Women: Kill or Be Killed

Women who are victims of abuse are usually faced with a difficult choice; killing their husbands/partner to save themselves. Killing their abuser is not usually planned – it is a woman’s last attempt to save herself. However, a woman who kills her abuser is not excused by the law. Their act is not seen as ‘self-defense’, they are usually charged with murder or manslaughter. The main reason behind this is that judges and juries don’t deem most acts of violence as life-threatening.

Killing is a last resort of defense for battered women; it is a defensive move that anyone suffering from domestic violence sees as an ‘escape’ from their situation. Women who kill their abusers are driven to do such action because they felt that their lives were on the line. They have all the right to feel scared as nearly 4,000 women die in the hands of their abusers every year.

The Story of Caroline Scott

She suffered excessive physical violence from the hands of Arthur Lee. One night, Arthur came home drunk from alcohol and a jealous rage. He told Caroline to put on her handcuffs – the precursor of severe beatings that became worst over time. Caroline has children and she had difficulty figuring out how to leave the house without leaving them behind. She overheard Arthur telling someone over the phone ‘she would be gone in 45 minutes’. Fearful of what may happen to her, she immediately grabbed one of her husband’s guns and shot him to death. But because Arthur wasn’t directly beating her when the shooting happened, Caroline was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison.

The Story of Jane Churn

Jane ignored her lover’s question which led James to call her abusive names. James also struck her a couple of times and they both fell on the floor when Jane tried to fight back. She then stood up and grabbed a fork from the table which she used to stab James to death. Because she was still brimming with anger, she still hit her already dead lover with a fireplace poker. She was charged with manslaughter and served her time in prison.

However there have been cases when a battered woman gets away with her crime when defense attorney convinces the jury the woman was driven to insanity as in the following case:

The Story of John and Lorena Bobbitt

This couple’s relationship made worldwide headlines in 1993 when Lorena cut off her husband’s penis with a knife while he was asleep in bed. The penis was subsequently surgically reattached. Lorena testified that John had raped her and physically battered her on multiple occasions prior to the evening of the severing of his penis, that they lacked financial stability, and that he stole and spent her earnings. Both the prosecution and defense sides conceded that John had demonstrated a history of abuse toward Lorena, and that this abuse created a context for the assault. The defense strategy emphasized her action as being a mix of self-defense and temporary insanity constituting an “irresistible impulse” due to the history and pattern of abuse and rape. After seven hours of deliberation, the jury found Lorena not guilty due insanity causing an irresistible impulse to sexually wound her husband. As a result, Lorena could not be held liable for her actions.  Under Virginia state law, the judge ordered Lorena to undergo a 45-day evaluation period at Central State Hospital, after which she would be released.

Women who are victims of domestic violence tend to fight back with whatever weapon is available to them. As a defense of battered women against their abusers, most of them use guns. The reason why women choose this weapon among others is that they do not have to be too close to their abuser; they can stop the violence even if the abuser is far away. Also, it doesn’t require upper body strength to fight back like other weapons such as knife or poker.