Photos Wix Gallery. Portraits are not of real survivors.
Because each year, millions of children around the world are the victims and witnesses of physical, sexual and emotional violence. Child maltreatment is a huge global problem with a serious impact on the victims’ physical and mental health, well-being and development throughout their lives – and, by extension, on society in general (WHO | ISPCAN).
Survivors of child abuse and neglect struggle with mental health problems and other chronic illnesses for life. Not talking about the unthinkable consequences of child abuse only makes things worse - when we lack understanding, we cannot fight this secretive and covered up violence, and we cannot offer survivors the adequate support they need. In many ways, the whole society is affected by this lack of awareness, and this has to change.
We aim to raise awareness on the matter, helping people to acknowledge what characterizes child abuse, the types of abuse, its devastating life-long consequences and how to prevent and treat child maltreatment. Our goal is to disseminate extremely important findings on child abuse and to engage a wider audience in this public debate.
This way, we intend to bridge the gap between knowledge producers and public opinion, democratizing access to findings on child abuse that affect society as a whole.
It's also a space for survivors to better understand what happened to them, to nurture a sense of belonging through consistent and reliable information. We believe that knowledge is power, and we wish to create an international community to fight child abuse and heal this collective trauma.
There has been very little education about child abuse and its consequences. This needs to change, for the sake of the whole society.
Any kind of abuse is about power and control. Child abuse is the most secretive and covered up of crimes.
LET'S TALK ABOUT CHILD ABUSE
The emotional impacts of
abuse are not so easily
"fixable" because people can't see them, and people aren't talking about them.
The physical injury itself has a less severe effect on the child’s well-being than the acute psychological and psychiatric consequences, and the long-term impact on the child’s neurological and emotional development.
We curate scientific research and technical reports published by international organizations, charities, universities and research centres dedicated to investigating the nature and consequences of child abuse all over the world. Our content is based on findings from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC - UK), National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC- UK), The International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse & Neglect (ISPCAN - US), Crimes Against Children Research Center (US), and we're constantly searching for other professional bodies.
All these institutions produce an extraordinary and extremely relevant content that is consistent and reliable. They offer us knowledge, insight and the opportunity to rethink what we know about the implications of child abuse for everyone - and what we can do to change this reality.
Child abuse is the most secretive and covered up of crimes. For those who never experienced it, it can seem the most unbelievable of crimes. These are the main difficulties of addressing it: secrecy and denial. Children are not responsible for knowing whether something is right or wrong. Adults are. Many victims don't tell about the abuse until they are much older, often times because they only fully acknowledge what happened to them when they grow up.
Secrecy and denial of abuse, collectively, only benefit abusers. That is why we need to talk about abuse relentlessly, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Until everyone, adults, children and survivors, feel well-informed, aware and prepared, whether to change their attitude, report it, ask for help or to heal. That's our mission at SOFCA, to bring the agenda of child abuse to civil society, via our blog, interviews with specialists, personal statements and constant press releases.
SOFCA Project is an extensive work of gathering and curation of technical, scientific and cultural material on child abuse all over the world. We collect information from official publications by international organizations such as UNICEF, WHO, NAPAC, ISPCAN and NSPCC, besides hospitals, universities and governments.
Child Abuse is a complex issue that involves Justice, Public Health, Mental Health, and Education Systems. For this reason, we interview specialists from all these areas, from Psychiatrists and Psychologists to Social Workers, Judges and Educators. Through a comprehensive approach, we believe we can build better ways to identify, prevent and treat the unthinkable damages of child abuse.
We believe that an accessible language is the starting point for any attempt to raise awareness on whatever subject we approach. Technical articles sometimes can be full of jargon and difficult to read, being often targeted to practitioners and policy-makers. Our job is to curate scientific material and 'smooth' them to a greater audience, without losing its rigour and accuracy.
Advocacy is frequently driven by personal experiences. And good advocacy takes on a lot of personal involvement with a cause. Being a survivor of abuse is never easy, and it gets worse when there is stigma around it. We fight stigma taking on the fact that we, too, were victims of sexual abuse during our childhood - and now we transform our pain by helping others recover from theirs.
We wish to create an international community of survivors of child abuse to educate ourselves about the damaged parts of our inner child, and to recognize how they interfere in our relationships in the present. The struggles caused by the life-long consequences of abuse are huge, and none should fight its symptoms alone. As a community, we can increase self-awareness and help each other to build a better life despite our trauma.
We want to create a virtual art gallery with works by survivors, and we accept pieces in different art forms - poetry, drawing, painting, sculpture and collage for this moment. Art is one of the most healing activities one can experience, and we encourage our community to produce from the heart. To know how to submit your work, click here.
Alexandre Valverde, Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist, Medical Editorial Consultant.
With these words, Dr Valverde sparked the idea for this portal, admitting that he was a victim of child sexual abuse himself, and ready to stand up and advocate for the cause. Author of the Mental Health app BemTeVi, he provides an insider viewpoint, both as an experienced clinician and a survivor of child abuse.
"There is no mental health struggle without a story of some sort of abuse underlying"
- Alexandre Valverde
"The worst thing about being an abused child is that you learn, at a very early age, that what you want and feel don't matter, and you take it for life"
- Kika Salvi
Kika Salvi, Journalist and Writer, Editor in Chief.
Kika Salvi has written on the subject for the last years for Brazilian magazines and websites, and has dealt with the life-long consequences of child sexual abuse herself for decades. She also provides an insightful view on the issue, both as a researcher and a survivor of child abuse.