When to get help: A Specialist’s advice on
spotting signs of Child Abuse
TOLEDO, OH – Twenty five-year-old Zach Shadix , the man accused of killing 8-month-old Gabrielle Walker, appeared in court Thursday. Walker’s mother Lisa Eck spoke out about the crime saying she never saw it coming.
“I had woke up and went and made the baby a bottle like I do every morning. I went to her bassinet to get her and she was black and blue all over the right side of her face,” said Eck.
Eck told NBC 24 Shadix lived with her, the infant, and her 9 year-old son for 6 months without any problems. Child behavior experts at the Family and Childhood Abuse Prevention Center in Toledo say the one’s closest to you often commit crimes.
“A child is more likely to be hurt and killed by someone they trust,” said Dr. Christie Jenkins CEO of the center.
She deals with victims and their families, warning them of red flags.
“They’re scared, they cry they can be very clingy to the caregiver that’s not abusing them,” said Jenkins of the behavior of abused children.
While children might show a change in behavior there’s also the physical signs with odd-shaped bruises.
“When it’s abuse there’s typically circular motions there’s indentations of actual pieces of objects,” said Jenkins.
Even if an abuser isn’t harming a child psychically, there are often signs in the way they treat adults including getting easily frustrated along with being emotionally and physically abusive.
In addition to short tempers abusers will often have a rocky past. Court documents show Shadix had prior charges in Lucas County for violent behavior.
“If they’re going to do that with you when you’re gone and that baby is completely helpless, they’re going to do that with that child,” said Jenkins.
Right now Shadix is in custody, while Eck says she’s still processing what happened to her child.
If the above signs sound familiar or you have questions about child abuse the center offers free counseling and one-on-one sessions. You can visit their website to find more information.
Child Abuse prevention: One in five children
sexually assaulted in Shelby County
SHELBY COUNTY, TN – There have been three child rape cases reported within days in Shelby County, and thousands within the past few months.
“90 percent of the time the abuser is someone that the child knows. 60 percent, it’s someone within the family’s circle,” said Kris Crim with the Memphis Child Advocacy Center.
Crim said many kids will keep the abuse a secret, because they feel confused or scared.
It’s why he’s been teaching adults about abuse through Stewards of Children program.
The course talks about what to look for.
“Often physical signs are not present. Sometimes they are. Often times they are not. We have to be in tune with emotional behavior. Things that may be happening like too perfect behavior or children acting out in certain ways,” he said.
Also, the program addresses conversations to have with children.
“Teaching children that no can be an appropriate response to adults if there’s an uncomfortable touch or something that makes them feel uncomfortable,” said Crim.
He said studies show one in five children in Shelby County are sexually abused by their 18th birthday. That’s double the national average.
“We know that over 80 percent of sexual abuse occurs in isolated one-on-one situations,” he said.
Child advocates said predators may not have a prior record or be listed on a sex offender registry.
They can come off as warm and loving to the outside world. It’s why they get away with the horrific acts.
It’s important to listen to your gut and talk to your child if something just doesn’t feel right.
If you suspect abuse, call the Tennessee Child Abuse hotline at 1-877-237-0004. You can remain anonymous, and you don’t have to know all the facts.
If you don’t report abuse, you can face criminal charges in Mississippi and Tennessee.
For more information about the Stewards for Children program, check out the Child Advocacy Center’s open enrollment sessions:
March 7, 1-3:30 p.m., Community Foundation office, 1900 Union Ave.
March 17, 9-11:30 a.m., Memphis Child Advocacy Center, 1085 Poplar Ave,
April 4, 1-3:30 p.m., Community Foundation
April 21, 9-11:30 a.m., Memphis Child Advocacy Center
April 30, 1-3:30 p.m., Community Foundation
Pre-registration is required. Contact Keita Cooley at 888-4362 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The impacts of Child Abuse, through the
eyes of an officer
SPOKANE, WA – As the first ones to arrive on the scene of a crime, law enforcement officers see the impacts of child abuse firsthand.
“It’s something that you don’t get over quickly – it may never leave you,” said Spokane Police Officer John O’Brien. “It doesn’t get easier to deal with. It’s really hard to understand what’s going on in the minds of a parent or guardian that would do that to a child,” he said.
He says child abuse can affect anyone, in any situation. It’s not limited to a certain neighborhood or demographic. That’s part of what makes it difficult to address.
“A crime against an adult is horrible as it is, but when you have an innocent, defenseless child who doesn’t know they’re going to be victimized it’s devastating. There’s no way for that child to fight back or protect themselves,” O’Brien said.
Especially when a child’s life ends because of abuse.
“Officers, you know we have this uniform and we have a tough exterior at times but we are human and we have those same emotions it’s hard to see a child killed at the hands of another person,” O’Brien said.
When law enforcement responds to a child abuse call, they have a chance to break the cycle of abuse. That’s something that sticks with them.
“You often wonder did that make a difference? Did that turn the tide for them, that they’ve got clean, done any of the programs that have learned how to be a parent? Because parenting is not easy at times,” O’Brien said.
That’s why — police say— the community’s help is so critical.
“We can do our part, but we also want the community to help us do that part to say something to partner with us so that we can stop or do our best to at least reduce or eliminate child abuse,” O’Brien said.
When to seek help for anger management and control
If your anger is still spiraling out of control, despite putting the previous anger management techniques into practice, or if you’re getting into trouble with the law or hurting others – you need more help. There are many therapists, classes, and programs for people with anger management problems. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. You’ll often find others in the same shoes, and getting direct feedback on techniques for controlling anger can be tremendously helpful.
Consider professional help if:
You feel constantly frustrated and angry no matter what you try.
Your temper causes problems at work or in your relationships.
You avoid new events and people because you feel like you can’t control your temper.
You have gotten in trouble with the law due to your anger. Your anger has ever led to physical violence.
Your anger has ever led to physical violence.
Therapy for anger problems. Therapy can be a great way to explore the reasons behind your anger. If you don’t know why you are getting angry, it’s very hard to control. Therapy provides a safe environment to learn more about your reasons and identify triggers for your anger. It’s also a safe place to practice new skills in expressing your anger.
Anger management classes or groups. Anger management classes or groups allow you to see others coping with the same struggles. You will also learn tips and techniques for managing your anger and hear other people’s stories. For domestic violence issues, traditional anger management is usually not recommended. There are special classes that go to the issue of power and control that are at the heart of domestic violence.
If your loved one has an anger management problem
If your loved one has an anger problem, you probably feel like you’re walking on eggshells all the time. But always remember that you are not to blame for your loved one’s anger. There is never an excuse for physically or verbally abusive behavior. You have a right to be treated with respect and to live without fear of an angry outburst or a violent rage.
Tips for dealing with a loved one’s anger management problem
While you can’t control another person’s anger, you can control how you respond to it:
Set clear boundaries about what you will and will not tolerate.
Wait for a time when you are both calm to talk to your loved one about the anger problem. Don’t bring it up when either one of you is already angry.
Remove yourself from the situation if your loved one does not calm down.
Consider counseling or therapy for yourself if you are having a hard time standing up for yourself.
Put your safety first. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe or threatened in any way, get away from your loved one and go somewhere safe.
Anger isn’t the real problem in abusive relationships
Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his behavior and temper. In fact, abusive behavior is a deliberate choice for the sole purpose of controlling you. If you are in an abusive relationship, know that couples counseling is not recommended – and that your partner needs specialized treatment, not regular anger management classes.
Anger management tip 1: Explore what’s really behind your anger
If you’re struggling with out-of-control anger, you may be wondering why your fuse is so short. Anger problems often stem from what you’ve learned as a child. If you watched others in your family scream, hit each other, or throw things, you might think this is how anger is supposed to be expressed. Traumatic events and high levels of stress can make you more susceptible to anger as well.
Anger is often a cover-up for other feelings
In order to get your needs met and express your anger in appropriate ways, you need to be in touch with what you are really feeling. Are you truly angry? Or is your anger masking other feelings such as embarrassment, insecurity, hurt, shame, or vulnerability?
If your knee-jerk response in many situations is anger, it is very likely that your temper is covering up your true feelings and needs. This is especially likely if you grew up in a family where expressing feelings was strongly discouraged. As an adult, you may have a hard time acknowledging feelings other than anger.
Clues that there’s something more to your anger
You have a hard time compromising. Is it hard for you to understand other people’s points of view, and even harder to concede a point? If you grew up in a family where anger was out of control, you may remember how the angry person got his or her way by being the loudest and most demanding. Compromising might bring up scary feelings of failure and vulnerability.
You have trouble expressing emotions other than anger. Do you pride yourself on being tough and in control, never letting your guard down? Do you feel that emotions like fear, guilt, or shame don’t apply to you? Everyone has those emotions, and if you think you don’t, you may be using anger as a cover for them.
You view different opinions and viewpoints as a personal challenge to you. Do you believe that your way is always right and get angry when others disagree? If you have a strong need to be in control or a fragile ego, you may interpret other perspectives as a challenge to your authority, rather than simply a different way of looking at things.
If you are uncomfortable with many emotions, disconnected, or stuck on an angry one-note response to everything, it might do you some good to get back in touch with your feelings. Emotional awareness is the key to self-understanding and success in life. Without the ability to recognize, manage, and deal with the full range of human emotions, you’ll inevitably spin into confusion, isolation, and self-doubt.
Anger management tip 2: Be aware of your anger warning signs and triggers
While you might feel that you just explode into anger without warning, in fact, there are physical warning signs in your body. Anger is a normal physical response. It fuels the “fight or flight” system of the body, and the angrier you get, the more your body goes into overdrive. Becoming aware of your own personal signs that your temper is starting to boil allows you to take steps to manage your anger before it gets out of control.
Pay attention to the way anger feels in your body
Knots in your stomach
Clenching your hands or jaw
Feeling clammy or flushed
Pacing or needing to walk around
Having trouble concentrating
Tensing your shoulders
Identify the negative thought patterns that trigger your temper
You may think that external things — the insensitive actions of other people, for example, or frustrating situations — are what cause your anger. But anger problems have less to do with what happens to you than how you interpret and think about what happened. Common negative thinking patterns that trigger and fuel anger include:
Overgeneralizing. For example, “You always interrupt me. You NEVER consider my needs. EVERYONE disrespects me. I NEVER get the credit I deserve.”
Obsessing on “shoulds” and “musts”. Having a rigid view of the way things should or must be and getting angry when reality doesn’t line up with this vision.
Mind reading and jumping to conclusions. Assuming you “know” what someone else is thinking or feeling—that he or she intentionally upset you, ignored your wishes, or disrespected you.
Collecting straws. Looking for things to get upset about, usually while overlooking or blowing past anything positive. Letting these small irritations build and build until you reach the “final straw” and explode, often over something relatively minor.
Blaming. When anything bad happens or something goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. You blame others for the things that happen to you rather than taking responsibility for your own life.
Avoid people, places, and situations that bring out your worst
Stressful events don’t excuse anger, but understanding how these events affect you can help you take control of your environment and avoid unnecessary aggravation. Look at your regular routine and try to identify activities, times of day, people, places, or situations that trigger irritable or angry feelings. Maybe you get into a fight every time you go out for drinks with a certain group of friends. Or maybe the traffic on your daily commute drives you crazy. Then think about ways to avoid these triggers or view the situation differently so it doesn’t make your blood boil.
Anger management tip 3: Learn ways to cool down
Once you know how to recognize the warning signs that your temper is rising and anticipate your triggers, you can act quickly to deal with your anger before it spins out of control. There are many techniques that can help you cool down and keep your anger in check.
Quick tips for cooling down
Focus on the physical sensations of anger. While it may seem counterintuitive, tuning into the way your body feels when you’re angry often lessens the emotional intensity of your anger.
Take some deep breaths. Deep, slow breathing helps counteract rising tension. The key is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible into your lungs.
Exercise. A brisk walk around the block is a great idea. It releases pent-up energy so you can approach the situation with a cooler head.
Use your senses. Take advantage of the relaxing power of your sense of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste. You might try listening to music or picturing yourself in a favorite place.
Stretch or massage areas of tension. Roll your shoulders if you are tensing them, for example, or gently massage your neck and scalp.
Slowly count to ten. Focus on the counting to let your rational mind catch up with your feelings. If you still feel out of control by the time you reach ten, start counting again.
Give yourself a reality check
When you start getting upset about something, take a moment to think about the situation. Ask yourself:
How important is it in the grand scheme of things?
Is it really worth getting angry about it?
Is it worth ruining the rest of my day?
Is my response appropriate to the situation?
Is there anything I can do about it?
Is taking action worth my time?
Anger management tip 4: Find healthier ways to express your anger
If you’ve decided that the situation is worth getting angry about and there’s something you can do to make it better, the key is to express your feelings in a healthy way. When communicated respectfully and channeled effectively, anger can be a tremendous source of energy and inspiration for change.
Pinpoint what you’re really angry about
Have you ever gotten into an argument over something silly? Big fights often happen over something small, like a dish left out or being ten minutes late. But there’s usually a bigger issue behind it. If you find your irritation and anger rapidly rising, ask yourself “What am I really angry about?” Identifying the real source of frustration will help you communicate your anger better, take constructive action, and work towards a resolution.
Take five if things get too heated
If your anger seems to be spiraling out of control, remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes or for as long as it takes you to cool down. A brisk walk, a trip to the gym, or a few minutes listening to some music should allow you to calm down, release pent up emotion, and then approach the situation with a cooler head.
Always fight fair
It’s okay to be upset at someone, but if you don’t fight fair, the relationship will quickly break down. Fighting fair allows you to express your own needs while still respecting others.
Make the relationship your priority. Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.
Focus on the present. Once you are in the heat of arguing, it’s easy to start throwing past grievances into the mix. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the present to solve the problem.
Choose your battles. Conflicts can be draining, so it’s important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. If you pick your battles rather than fighting over every little thing, others will take you more seriously when you are upset.
Be willing to forgive. Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish, which can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.
Know when to let something go. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, you can choose to disengage and move on.