Tag Archives: child abuse

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow

Cover via Goodreads.

Rating: 4.5/5 stars.

“That’s the first time I’ve ever heard the idea of unconditional love outside the context of religion. In theology class, I always hear about God’s love, about his loving us even though we’re sinners. But the idea that real live parents could be unconditionally loving is completely foreign… How can anyone be loved not for what they do but for who they are? Isn’t who you are defined by what you do?”

There are some books that really hit home. Books that you can relate to, so that when you’re reading them you feel a personal connection to the characters or to the events occurring. For me, Bitter Melon was one of those books. In many ways this book doesn’t deserve such a high rating – the romance was awkward and the protagonist a bit unbelievable at times – but because of how much I empathized with Frances, the main character, I loved the book anyway.

Frances Ching’s goal is to attend Berkeley and become a doctor. That may not be her goal as much as it is her mother’s, but for her the two are interchangeable. That’s the case until Frances accidentally enrolls in a speech course and ends up loving it – for the first time, she’s discovered a passion that solely belongs to her. However, her affection for public speaking conflicts with what her mom wants her to do. Despite Frances’s past obedience to her mother, she decides to take a risk and starts making her own choices in life. This leads to a collision between Frances’s own dreams and her mom’s hurtful – and in the end, Frances will only be able to choose one.

I know how it feels to be in Frances’s position. To be afraid of disobeying your parents even if it’s the right thing to do, to be afraid of acting on your own when it goes against their wishes, to be afraid of them in general. Every time Frances’s mom compared her to one of her friends, called her stupid or fat, or hit her mercilessly, my heart ached. That’s why seeing Frances grow into her own person by the end of the novel amazed me. Every time she told herself that it’s okay to be imperfect, I cheered. There was one dramatic scene at the end where I cried unabashedly, because I knew it was something I should do but I don’t have the strength to do… yet.

Let me make it clear: children with parents coming from strict cultures still appreciate them. Frances is aware of how much her mom has sacrificed for her and obviously does her best to repay that debt. Also, she and I both know that our parents only want the best for us – that’s why they push us so hard. Yet when that familial love manifests into abuse, there’s something wrong. You should never have to beat your kid or make them hate themselves to convey how much you love them. Never.

Overall, a powerful and moving novel. Not flawless, but the sheer strength of Chow’s storytelling made those minor negative aspects almost disappear. Highly recommended to teens who have helicopter or tiger parents, and for others who simply want to understand those that do.

Thanks goes to The Dubious Seeker for recommending this book to me.

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Filed under 4.5 stars, Book Reviews, Books

You See That Rock Right There? Yep, It’s a Rock

I’m not sure if it’s the school-related stress or my intrinsic need to write or the gnawing feeling I have that I’ve abandoned my blog, but I’m going to write a quick post.

I love to ponder. To analyze. To ruminate. I even have “thinking” as one of my Facebook activities to trick people into assuming I’m deep. If one does not attempt to assess certain aspects of their lives – who they are, what their goals are, etc. – then it would be extremely difficult to lead a fulfilling life. You have to learn from your mistakes so that you don’t make them again, and you have to question things that don’t seem right to be a better person.

Yet there are limits to thinking. No matter how much you think about something, you can’t change it unless you act. Thinking allows you to attain a clearer image of your life, but what good is that image if you don’t do anything with it? Some people afflicted with depression are caught in a mental downward spiral – unable to focus on anything except the negative thoughts taking over their minds, they lose the ability to do anything besides grieve for themselves as they helplessly watch the world pass by.

Furthermore, one can over-analyze as well. I’ll use an example I haven’t brought up in a long time: child abuse. A child abuser, is, well, a child abuser. There’s no other way to look at it. Sure, the abuser might have come from a long line of child abusers so that they were born in a toxic environment, or maybe they’re suffering from a mental disease and can’t control their actions – but, no matter what, they are a child abuser. You can sympathize with the abuser, you can empathize with what they’ve gone through in their lives, whatever. They hurt kids. That’s that.

I suppose what I’m getting at is that people should face their problems for what they are as opposed to coming up with excuses for things that are clearly in their control. This reminds me of students who say that they’re intelligent but get bad grades because they’re lazy – maybe they should try harder then. And if you know someone who is bullied or has an eating disorder or cuts themselves, who cares if they don’t want help or have issues with attention? Get them help. It is what it is.

I am a firm believer that life contains many shades of gray. But some situations call for a simple, realistic perspective of black and white.

Thoughts?

By the way, two more days until this blog’s one year anniversary! I’m behind on responding to comments and what not, I promise I’ll get to it by the weekend. Also, thanks to Devina for partially inspiring this post… as well as my dad, who’s probably the most realistic person I know.

He's a ladies' man. Are you guys excited for Christmas? I was, but realized I had no friends to go shopping for...

PS: I was thinking about this a little more and I realized just how many things it applies to… and, you guessed it, I have to mention gays. I mean, these are just people who love each other, but then you throw in religion and the government and the Apocalypse and things get way more messy than they need to be. Rick Perry doesn’t even make sense when he talks about gays… but this guy does.

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Filed under Society

Child Abuse and Depression

Image via psyblogger.com

One of the least shocking yet most troubling consequences of child abuse is depression. Victims of child abuse are prone to suffer from this disease at some time in their life, either in recurring episodes or long stretches.

The reason I do not find this surprising is because it makes sense, to put it blatantly. As a child your brain is continuing to develop, so abuse introduces an influx of stress hormones that can potentially alter and rewire your brain in an abnormal way. I’m not a psychologist or a scientist, but even as a mere high-school student, I can clearly see the long-term negative effects of child abuse.

Removing the scientific aspect of abuse and focusing on the social angle, it remains obvious how child abuse causes depression. A myriad, even a majority of child abuse perpetrators are related to their respective victims. Loneliness and social isolation are key concepts of depression – and isn’t it true that your family is supposed to always be there for you? To listen to you and accept you as who you are? Unfortunately, some children do not have that luxury. As a result they suffer physically and mentally.

Though I had a blast on the cruise I went on recently, I immediately felt sad again once I returned home to certain members of my family. To ameliorate this I began reading The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs  by Stephen S. Ilardi. Here’s a quote I stumbled upon right at the beginning (page 32):

“Likewise, the protective presence of loved ones – which our forebears experienced for the better part of each day – gives the brain a strong, primal signal that we’re probably no longer in any immediate danger, so it ratchets down the stress response accordingly.”

This quote supplies evidence as to why victims of abuse possess irregular stress patterns. I’m sure others can relate to me when I say that I do feel like I’m in immediate danger in the “protective presence of loved ones”, and that my “stress response” actually shoots skyward during that time.

I digress. It’s important to remember that despite what I’ve written here, victims of child abuse are not helpless in the face of despair. I read, I run, I write, and I do many other things in order to fight depression. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.

Child abuse hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD

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Filed under Personal, Society

The Child Abuse Cycle

Based on statistics alone, I’m three times less likely to practice safe sex, have an 80% chance of meeting the criteria for at least one psychological disorder by the age of 21, and, if I were a girl, be 25% more likely to get pregnant while I’m still a teenager.* And that’s not the worst of it, at least to me.

What really scares me is that I possess a 30% chance of abusing and neglecting my own children.* Although that’s simply a statistic, it still makes me fearful to have children in the future. I would rather die the most painful, dreaded death before making a person suffer by the hands of their own parent.

90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way.*

The obvious question raised is: why? Why does this horrible cycle of abuse and hurt continue? I’m no expert on child abuse, but as someone who is a victim of it and has attempted to understand it in its various forms, I feel like society as a whole is not doing enough to overcome this serious issue. There are commercials against smoking, bullying, drugs, and using the words “retard” and “gay” with negative connotations, but none informing of the fatal effects of child abuse. I know I’ll receive criticism for being melodramatic and selfish by saying this, but it’s my honest opinion.

When abused children don’t know how to cope, they often utilize the same aggressive behaviors inflicted upon them to make themselves feel better. In some cases, without knowing it, these children are perpetuating the exact practices used to torment them. It’s not even their fault. They just don’t know any better.

14% of all men in prison in the USA were abused as children, and 36% of all women in prison were abused as children.* According to the American Medical Association, a myriad of abuse victims progress to the point of obtaining professional careers and maintaining a normal, healthy lifestyle but resort to negative behaviors intrinsic to their abuse when additional stress is introduced, such as the death of a loved one or an ended romantic relationship.* It almost moves me to tears that there isn’t more being done to help people whose lives have been perforated by such an unfortunately common cruelty.

The message I’m trying to get across is this: do something. Educate someone about child abuse by telling them a few frightening statistics (to inform them, not to scare them!) or asking someone who looks down if they’re okay – if they’re not, follow up and ask why. Chances are that you’ve met someone who has either suffered or suffers from child abuse, or knows someone who has.

Today, after an incident involving my mom, I felt alone, miserable, and almost suicidal until I talked to my friend about what went down. My family may not be there for me all the time, but my friends are always available, and I’m truly indebted to them. It would be much worse to have no one and no ability to learn about the facets of abuse and how to prevent them from recurring in one’s life.

You can learn more about child abuse or donate to the fight against it by visiting the website for Prevent Child Abuse America, or the website for the Tennyson Center for Children.

Thank you for reading this post, it means a lot to me.

*statistics used were taken from these two websites, though I’m sure they’ve appeared elsewhere:
National Child Abuse Statistics, and
Child Abuse: An Overview

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Filed under Personal, Society

Getting Help for Child Abuse

… is not as easy as it seems.

Image via newagejourney.com

When most people see or hear of an abused child, they think  “They should get help,” or, “They have to tell someone.” It’s natural, because ever since we were young, we have had individuals to tell our problems to, like our parents and friends. We’ve had people to protect us in times of crisis and danger, like the police, who are only a phone call away at any given time. The right thing to do is to get help, to find a way out, to escape the harm, the hurt, or the suffering.

But what if you can’t?

I have a confession to make: I’m a victim of child abuse. There. I’ve said it. This post itself is inspired by something my mom said to me today, something that probably isn’t polite and actually is downright mean. However, even though she’s yelled at me and hurt me since I was a toddler, I refuse to get help or contact an authority.

Call me a hypocrite, I deserve it. I would call myself a hypocrite. If any other person was in my situation, I would immediately urge them to get help – and if they refused, I would do it for them. Here’s the number, by the way, if you are a victim of child abuse or know someone who is: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453). Call the number if need be, please. Ignore what I said earlier, just call.

Image via facesofangels.blog.blogspot.com

Have you ever wanted to tell someone something, but couldn’t find the words the articulate it? Have you ever wished that you could reveal a secret, but was unsure of the possible consequences? Those are some of the things that run through my mind every day, and I’m sure they affect others, too.

Here are some of the reasons why I don’t get help, even when I know I should:
– I doubt people would believe me. I’m a fifteen-year-old male, nearing sixteen (in six days). I should be able to stand up for myself, right? But I don’t. I don’t have any physical scars to show, either – just broken self-esteem and a plethora of personal issues.
– How would it affect others people besides me? My mom does a lot of things around the house, like taking me to places for school or sports, getting groceries, etc. Although the majority of my family has received abusive treatment from her, realistically, we would have trouble functioning without her (we would be a lot happier, though).
– There are people who have it worse. Much, much worse. Why should I get help when there are children starving in the streets or entire communities destroyed by natural disasters?

I’m so conflicted. What I’m trying to communicate with writing this post is that even though a person may be physically capable of seeking protection, they may not be capable for other reasons, whether it be moral, emotional, etc. So please, get help for them.

Also, let me reiterate to those who might be suffering from child abuse right now – get help. I know it’s hard, trust me, I do. And despite the reasons I listed above, I do talk to people. Mainly my closest friends, who are so supportive that I honestly wonder where I would be today if it weren’t for their compassion and understanding. Talking to them helps a lot. If you can find anyone to talk to, like a teacher, coach, a friend’s parent, etc. I highly recommend it.

If you don’t have anyone in your life you feel like you can talk to, you can always call this number: 1-800-422-4453. And if you’re not up for that, I’m right here – just leave a comment or contact me privately via my contact information page – I promise I’ll respond asap.

Not the funnest thing to read, but an important message to share. Writing this post alleviated some of my own stress as well, which is one of the reasons I love blogging. Most likely back to books or pop next time around, have a great one and stay safe until then. (:

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Filed under Personal

Child Abuse Prevention Month

Image via Marty Melville/ Getty Images

Imagine waking up wondering whether your dad will beat you because he’s drunk. Imagine having to control every little thing you do – the grades you get, who you hang out with, the way you walk, etc. – because if they’re not perfect, your mom will ridicule you for being stupid, dumb, and worthless. Imagine living completely alone in a rundown apartment without food, water, or love.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month – so please, do something to help children suffering from this horrible treatment. It can be as simple as asking a friend if everything is okay at home or donating through an online charity. Here is the official site for Child Abuse Prevention Month run by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – the site contains fantastic information and ways to get involved.

To show the extent of this issue, here are some troubling statistics from 2007, taken from this site:
– Almost five children die every day as a result of child abuse.
– 90% of child sexual abuse victims know the perpetrator in some way; 68% are abused by family members.
– About 30% of abused and neglected children will later abuse their own children, thus continuing the horrible cycle.
– The estimated annual cost of child abuse and neglect in the United States for 2007 is $104 billion.

Besides spreading awareness, participating in events, and donating to charities, I plan to write a book about child abuse. I don’t know the story, the characters, or any of the details, really – but I want to write something that teenage victims can relate to. It’s one of my goals in life, and a reason why I try to improve my writing ability.

Just a call could save a life. (image via imageshack)

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Filed under Events