Childhood Abuse and Neglect
Abuse can occur in a variety of ways. While the most recognised is physical or sexual abuse, other forms are emotional-psychological, economic, spiritual, or involve the destruction of property or pets.
More damaging than abuse is physical or emotional neglect. However, when neglect and abuse occur, they involve disrespecting an individual rather than valuing them. The abuser uses their victim for their own personal gain and sense of personal power. The unfortunate consequence of abuse is that it can gradually chip away at a person’s self-confidence and sense of who they are as an individual.
Neglected and abused individuals may have trouble thinking for themselves, speaking up for themselves, and valuing themselves. Abused individuals may feel depressed, extremely anxious, have sleep problems, trouble concentrating, and/or trouble eating. A victim of abuse may feel like a prisoner in their own home, may blame themselves for the abuse they experience and may have lost a sense of their identity.
Eventually, a victim of abuse may lash out in anger at the abuser or desperately seek to flee. With counselling, the neglected and abused may rediscover their personal identity and move on to be able to assert who they really are and what they desire.
Pregnancy Losses & Abortion
Pregnancy losses can occur in a variety of circumstance. Miscarriage is common, not to mention loss due to ectopic pregnancy, IVF, abortion, stillbirth and perinatal deaths.
In 2019 in Australia there were 305,832 births
(1). SANDS estimate 106,000 Miscarriages/newborn deaths per year.
(2) 1 in 4 women have a miscarriage.
In 2018 there were 73,800 abortions in Australia.
Unresolved pregnancy loss can have a profound impact on both men and women. Yet within our society, it is a taboo subject. An untold number of mothers and fathers keep silent about their pain, guilt, shame, hurt, some deny, dismiss, suppress; it is kept private and hidden. Many feel alone and unaware of how prevalent it is.
Mia Freedman, an author and journalist, said “Between the five of us, we counted nine children and 27 pregnancies; for one mother she had, had nine miscarriages in five years. For the mother who’d had nine miscarriages in five years, they blurred a little. Pregnancy loss remains one of the big secrets of motherhood - actually it’s one of the biggest secrets of women’s lives.”
We’re very good at celebrating good news in our culture. But we’re collectively hopeless when it comes to acknowledging things that are painful, awkward, unpleasant and sad. Things like pregnancy loss. She then goes on to say it’s not that people don’t mean well when they quote scripture or clichés, etc. but it would be helpful if we focused on encouraging ways to help the grieving process.
9 Children born
18 Pregnancy losses
Average 3.6 Losses per person
“I didn’t know I had the right to grieve.”
Cat shares how she didn’t know that she had the right to grieve after the loss of her 2 children through abortion. She shares how it impacted her life and relationship with her other children.
Joyce kept pushing her grief down.
Joyce has experienced many losses—4 through ectopic pregnancies, 3 miscarriages and 6 babies through IVF, but she just kept suppressing her grief and didn't know how or if she should grieve.
Joanne lost Angel at 22 weeks
Joanne had a premature labor and loss her daughter Angel at 22 weeks gestation followed by a relationship breakup; she bottled up her grief for 19 years
The Link Between Childhood Abuse, Neglect, Pregnancy Loss and Abortion
Understanding and learning our family tree is the key to unlocking why we do the things we do, and to stop the
re-enactment in our lives. When we look at childhood abuse, neglect, and unresolved grief statistics it is hard to escape not being impacted by these in our family tree. The only difference is where we are on the continuum of severity.
The Injury Within
"The overwhelming need may not be readily apparent, yet careful clinical observation and research indicate there are millions of people in every country deeply wounded by confusing conflicts, intense emotions, personality handicaps and progressive dehumanization resulting from unresolved pregnancy losses and abuses. Many people are able to keep up a façade of health, but they quickly decompensate with physical complaints or psychiatric disturbances in time of relatively minor crisis."
Dr Philip Ney author of Deeply Damaged says this:
Women who have been impacted by pregnancy loss are more likely to have pathological, incomplete grief, and therefore become depressed and alienated.
Interferes with the bonding of parents to other children.
Diminishes their ability to respond to their infant’s cry,
Disrupts their parenting ability.
Interferes with immune function and thus adversely affects general health.
Abuse and neglect are often transgenerational. Studies and research show that when there has been neglect and abuse, women are more susceptible to having an abortion. In addition, when there is unresolved pregnancy loss, post-natal depression and anxiety occur more often. Unresolved pregnancy losses can lead to:
Parents finding it difficult to respond to the infant’s helpless cry and needs or they may have the tendency to suffocate, smother and/or be controlling.
Anxiety during the pregnancy, which tends to interfere with the mother’s and father’s enjoyment of the pregnancy and readying themselves for the baby’s arrival.
Post-natal depression resulting in lessened bonding which increases the chances of child abuse and neglect.
Abuse and neglect are often transgenerational. Studies show that when there has been neglect and abuse, women are more susceptible to having an abortion. Abuse and neglect dehumanises to varying degrees.
Abortion completes the dehumanisation. Abortion results in more post-natal depression and therefore less bonding, less touching, and less breast feeding.
Difficulty Bonding relating to Abortion
Women who have been impacted by abortion are more likely to have pathological, incomplete grief, and therefore become depressed and alienated.
1. Mothers who have had previous abortions are more anxious and tend not to anticipate the birth of the subsequent child or prepare for his/her arrival. Please see related article “Hospital Alert for Anxious Mothers” from King Edward Memorial Hospital.
2. Her fears of being punished for her abortion tend to cement themselves into a belief that her next baby will be malformed. Therefore, she tends not to want to see it and only to deliver it under the most medically proficient conditions. She may want to be reassured repeatedly that her baby is normal, requesting repeated assurance and ultrasound.
3. After the birth of the baby after an abortion, she is more likely to be depressed and consequently has more difficulty bonding to the child. Children who are not well bonded are not well protected from the parent's rage and/or helplessness, therefore they are more likely to be abused and neglected.
4. The post abortion mother has difficulty touching and caressing the baby. Therefore, the baby's mind and body are not as well integrated.
5. The post abortion mother has more difficulty breastfeeding a baby and therefore he/she is both less well nurtured physically and psychologically.
6. The baby, being not as well nurtured, is more unhappy and demanding, accentuating the mother's feeling of helplessness and worthlessness as a parent.
7. The post abortion parents are more likely not to respond to the baby's helpless cry with feelings of helplessness, anxiety and irritation. Thus the child is more likely to be neglected or aggressed in response to its demand for nurture.
The Cycle of Abuse and Abortion
When children experience neglect and abuse, they are at a higher risk and chance of seeking an abortion. That abortion increases the chance of child abuse should be no surprise. Abortion results in more post-partum depression and therefore less bonding, less touching, and less breast feeding.
Parents who have had an abortion are more likely to abuse and neglect children.
Parents who were mistreated are more likely to have an abortion.
Men and women who were neglected as children tend to neglect their spouses.
Women who are not supported are more likely to have both abortions and miscarriages.
To get additional information, you may read more here:
Hope Alive Manual, A Guide for Group Counsellors (Third Edition) Dr. Philip Ney page 2