Here I was thinking yesterday would just be boring and a little upsetting.
Safeguarding is a standard bit of training you have to do to work with vulnerable adults and children, I’ve done the adult training loads of times and it’s upsetting because of the content but I can cope with it. I didn’t think doing safeguarding of children would be any different than the ones I’ve done for adults, I was wrong.
Talk about triggering, about memories flooding in and engulfing me in pain. I fell back into my old publicly ‘acceptable’ self harming in a big way, my fingers are a mess and my lips are bitten to shreds.
The pain of knowing that the people I care about went through some of the more devastating abuse that we covered, that I went through some of the others and hearing them speak about it in a way that made it sound as bad as all the others. I’ve tried to convince myself that it wasn’t ‘that bad’ that I’m just a weakling and that’s why it has left me as scarred by it as I am, that they didn’t do anything wrong to me.
For those of you that don’t know about what safeguarding is, it’s about protecting children and vulnerable adults from being treated in ways that will physically and psychologically harm them. These fall into four main categories for children. NEGLECT, PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL and SEXUAL abuse though they tend to overlap as you’d expect.
I’ve known and am still friends with people who have suffered every single one of these categories of abuse, I’ve seen the damage that it does to be subjected to this treatment and how long the after effects last. My intent in writing this was to vent the things that triggered me and to get them down here so I could get them out of my head, but I can’t make my fingers type the words or even think about it, the fear is still that palpable. So instead if this post wakes just one person up to abuse and helps one child or even lets an adult speak about what happened to them then I think it’s worth it.
Surrounded by people I work with and don’t know well enough to open up to, having the urge to speak out about what I went through and yet still having a mental padlock on my voice. It made me wish not for the first time, people had noticed my cries for help and done something. I think that’s why even the slightest indication of something not being right with a child or vulnerable adult and I report it, as far as I’m concerned that’s the way things should be.
NO SECRETS! not when it comes to the protection of people who struggle to protect themselves.
So, how do you spot it? Well it is not always easy, abusers are sneaky and the person being abused will often be good at hiding it too out of embarrassment, lack of understanding, fear or brain washing by their abusers.
What to watch out for:
Changes in a childs behaviour- becoming angry, scared, shy, over clingy when that is not their usual personality.
Marks and bruises in areas that are not consistent with the explanation or ‘normal’ for a child to bump.
The child hiding these marks with clothing or in their actions.
Knowing too much about the language and physical acts of intimacy.
Being underweight/overweight, scavenging for food, stealing, hoarding.
Overreacting to being admonished, cowering or hiding. Or alternately not reacting to it at all, being ‘used to’ physical violence.
Lack of personal hygiene, rotten teeth, skin conditions, unkempt clothing which is not changed or washed.
Not wanting to sit, walking uncomfortably, pulling at their clothing in discomfort.
Suddenly coming into money or gifts from people, getting in and out of cars with people that aren’t family.
These are just a few of them and none of them are ‘proof’ in and of itself, but they are all important indications that something is not right and if you see them please tell someone. If no one reports their worries then that child could be in real danger. Social services and schools will keep records of all concerns and when these flags are raised will keep an eye on the situation hopefully meaning that the family will get help.
We’ve all heard about some of the horrible incidences that have been publicised over the years, Baby P, grooming of children, Female genital mutilation, Winterbourne care home….be aware and please don’t turn a blind eye. Speak out and make a difference.