Welcome to SOFCA, a portal on the consequences of child abuse on people's physical and mental health. Our medical consultant, psychiatrist Dr Alexandre Valverde, presents the project. When we know better, we do better.
Hello. My name is Alexandre Valverde. I live in Brazil, I'm a psychiatrist and psychotherapist for over twenty years.
One of the things I notice most as a clinician is an intense struggle that many patients face caused by abuse, whether childhood abuse, that we'll approach in depth, be it at work or in our personal relationships.
All these forms of abuse cause the abused person to feel helpless, hopeless and lonely, at any age. But in children, these feelings are even stronger, as they are not able to defend themselves.
You may ask yourself, “OK, but what exactly is abuse and why should I care about it?” Abuse is any form of CONTROL and POWER that does not allow a person to be who they really are. It's an attempt to make someone BE or BEHAVE a certain way, and for that, a position of power, hierarchy or responsibility is used to control, to punish when someone doesn't obey or fulfil one's desire.
"People have no idea, but child abuse is one of the biggest causes of chronic diseases that lead to death in adulthood."
Abuse always involves an abused person's trust in the abuser, and the abuser's power over them. It may be due to a matter of hierarchy, physical strength, age, gender, financial dependence, or social standing.
There are many examples of abusive relationships in everyday life: A boss, who is hierarchically superior to an employee, is abusive when he demands more than what was agreed in the contract, with tasks or overtime, without overpaying for this. When he humiliates the employee for his performance, when he threatens or punishes him for disagreeing.
A parent is abusive when they yell at the child for not behaving as they would like, when they threaten to hit, or hit them, to punish what they consider “misbehaviour”. When they ridicule the child for their difficulties in coordination, understanding, communication, or for their physical characteristics. When they dismiss the child's suffering and call them fussy or dramatic whenever they cry or complain about something.
An uncle, a grandfather, an older cousin are abusive when they tell a sexual joke to or around a child, when they watch an inappropriate film in front of them, when they touch them or ask to be touched on their private parts as a way of "affection".
A husband is abusive when he mistreats or ignores his wife for not dressing as he would like, or for not wanting to fulfil his sexual fantasy, for example.
A teacher is abusive when he scolds a student aggressively, when he is contemptuous of the student's performance or their religious beliefs, and when he humiliates them in front of the class.
ALL OF THESE SITUATIONS I mentioned are forms of physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and they leave deep marks on those who were abused. Here on the portal, we are going to focus on child abuse. Unfortunately, abusive relationships are very common, both in childhood and adulthood, and cause physical and mental health problems that often last a lifetime.
"To prevent hundreds of millions of people around the world from suffering so much, we need to talk openly about the tragic consequences of childhood abuse"
People have no idea, but child abuse is one of the biggest causes of chronic diseases that lead to death in adulthood. It is already known, after decades of serious research on the subject, that there is a causal relationship between child abuse and the development of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, drug addiction, risky sexual behaviour and suicide attempts.
To prevent hundreds of millions of people around the world from suffering so much, we need to talk openly about the tragic consequences of childhood abuse. Many people suffer in silence, unaware that they were abused in the past. And many people abuse without having the slightest idea of the huge damage they are doing. This is a collective problem, considered by international bodies to be one of the greatest of our time.
That's why we created the portal SOFCA International, or Survivors of Child Abuse. To help people better understand what is at stake when it comes to child abuse. Let's expand this awareness. Only then, will we be able to heal this collective trauma and build a better world, without so much pain, illness and loneliness. Come with us. KS