Abandonment – Training Outline

Trainer: Habiba Asad

What is Abandonment Abuse?

Occurs when a (vulnerable person or) child is left without the ability to obtain necessary food, clothing, shelter, emotional warmth and health care. Examples include deserting a vulnerable person in a public place or leaving him/her at home without the means of getting basic life necessities.

Signs of Abandonment:

  • Deserting a vulnerable person in public place
  • Deserting a vulnerable person in his or her own living space
  • Individual’s report of being abandoned

Major Examples in indigenous Cultural context:

Example 1:

Kids abandoned as permanent contract based housemaids by their own parents. The kid is sold on a annual income fixed criteria. The host family can treat the kid as per their will. Abandonment issues are majorly reported by neighbors or self reported by the kid that  s/he has been abused. S/he lacked basic necessities on account of punishment for not fulfilling required tasks they were asked for. Many of the cases reported that kids have been exposed to live under crucially hard environment such as in a deserted top story room without proper necessary summer and winter protections. The kids are often reported of being physically abused along with poor health care treatments in case of severe injury and also not provided with proper clothing.

Example 2:

Women in tribal and underdeveloped areas are majorly oppressed and go through abandonment issues when not observed to be obedient enough as per their primary caretaker such as the father or husband. They face abandonment, therein, for raising their voice against the patriarchal pressure, forced marriages and not given the right to get education. 

Also read: Emotional Abuse - Training Outline

Example 3:

Kids who are forced to live with Step parents have also been reported of being abused by the step relation a number of times. These kids are forced to live under controlled environment and many a times they face grounding issues for not acting as per they have been expected or advised. 

Example 4:

Kids who have been abandoned by their own parents due to lack of income and basic necessities and are forced to beg on streets against their own will. These kids suffer the most emotionally as well as mentally and beg for the sake of bread. They don’t have a safe shelter nor a sense of security and tend to deviate from morality and get themselves at hands of crime.

Understanding Abandonment:

  • When children are forced into growing up under mentally challenging times such as a loved one’s death or similar loss, with minimal or no psychological and physical protection which they need as well as deserve, it is most natural for them to internalize incredible fear.
  • Not receiving the necessary psychological or physical protection equals to abandonment.
  • Moreover, living alongside repetitive abandonment incidents create feeling of being toxic and unfortunate. Shame arises from the painful message implied in abandonment that Your are not important and You have no value.
  • For some kids abandonment is only physical when they are not provided with necessary physical conditions for thriving i.e lack of appropriate supervision,  nutrition meals, shelter, clothing, housing heat or physical or sexual abuse.
  • When children are constantly neglected by the primary caretakers as they are totally dependent on them they tend to start believing that the world is an unsafe place and people are not to be trusted and, thus, develop trust issues in very beginning of their lives. They also start to demoralize their self worth thinking they do not deserve good things and attention like others and thus build a shattered self respect and self value.
  • Emotional abandonment occurs when parents do not consider the child’s emotions and do not provide the necessary emotional environment for healthy development.
  • It occurs when a child hides a part of who he is in order to be accepted and not to be rejected.
  • It basically implies such assumptions and presuppositions that “I am not allowed to make mistake, or I’m not allowed to express what I actually feel it will be unsafe if ill just say no, I’m not allowed to cry and I’m not supposed to cry and tell about any kind of pain”.
  • It also implies the thoughts that it is not okay to have needs like others, “I’m not supposed to tell these things”, everyone else’s needs appear to be more important than you.
  • Another act of abandonment occurs when children are supposed to fulfill unrealistic expectations and demands that are not also age appropriate. When they are held responsible for other people’s behaviours and consistently blamed for the actions and feelings of their parents.
  • Disapproval toward children is aimed at their entire beings or identity rather than a particular behaviour, e.g. telling them they are worthless when they just haven’t completed their homework. 
Also read: Physical Abuse - Training Outline

Abandonment experiences are in no way a measure of a child’s innate goodness and value. Instead, they reveal the flawed thinking, false beliefs, and impaired assumptions of those who hurt them. In order to make sure the healing begins, it is essential to take a step towards acceptance. Acceptance of the situation as well as the causes that might have led to such mental scars. Until that happens, the pain will stay with them and become a driving force in their adult lives.

Acknowledging what is abandonment and  its real causes is essential before pinning down the ways to treating it.

Habiba Asad, a psychologist in the making, believes that no person in inherently bad – it is the situation that makes or breaks a person’s personality in our eyes.

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