Abandonment issues & their results in children and animals

Trainer: Habiba Asad

The previous session talked about the basic clarification of the abandonment issue. What is abandonment and how it is characterized alongside the symptoms for children suffering through abandonment issues. We also talked about  examples regarding indigenous and native culture.

Read more: Abandonment - Training Outline 

The current session addresses the problems faced by the human as well as animal victims and how they can be helped through basic compassionate steps. 

Behaviours shown by people who suffered through abandonment abuse in childhood:

Such exhibit the following traits later in life;

  • Clinginess
  • Fear of unfaithfulness in relationships
  • Shallow relational strings
  • Jumping to worst-case scenarios
  • Clingy to unhealthy relationships
  • Self sabotaging towards their relationships 
  • Observing other people’s flaws and might try them time & again to check their reliability
  • Cutting off from people considering that they’ll be abandoned eventually so it’s better to remain alone. 
  • Acting as a brick wall when talked to them 
  • Being totally unapproachable 
  • Negating to open up about anything 
  • Considering the world as an unsafe place

Moreover, once their defences are raised its impossible to get through them

Abandoned Child Syndrome:

It is a proposed behavioural or psychological condition that results primarily from the loss of one or both parents. Abandonment may be physical (left alone) or emotional (parents may withhold nurturing, affection and stimulation/response). Therefore, an abandoned child’s mental state is not recognized as a mental disorder.

Parents who leave or alienate their children due to bitter divorce conditions and children tend to survive in foster care. It can all cause psychological damage. The damage is reversible with proper assistance. Children may also often suffer physical damage from neglect, malnutrition, starvation and abuse.

Symptoms shown by child are:

1. With-drawl – social resistance toward people

2. Guilt – associated with depression 

3. Fear and Uncertainties – insecurities and clinginess

4. Physical ailments – drug abuse, malnutrition, anxiety, depression, lack of energy, depressed, anger, grief

5. Sleep and eating disorder – lack of sleep and nightmares

Neglect and Abandonment can often lead to child death under extreme conditions and it is mostly ignored or left un-diagnosed. No one reports it and out of sympathy people come forth to share grief with the parents that were in actuality responsible for the death. People deem it as an accidental happening.

Read more: Neglect - Training Outline

How to help a child who suffered abandonment:

1. Teach the child how to talk

Children are un-expressive and they basically need permission to open up and discuss something that is terrifying or absurd. Discuss difficult topics with a child to see he feels comfortable in opening up little by little every time. Hope and Encouragement are two necessary words that can be used to pacify the child. 

2. Build a trauma narrative

Teach the child to write or design the trauma story and describe each event. This way the child will learn how to differentiate past from present and future. And the trauma and the feelings associated are all in the head and no longer can affect the child’s future or present. Moreover, he will get over it through this.

3. Teach the child to trust themselves and their Gut feeling

Teach them how to differentiate between positive and negative vibes. How they can save themselves from manipulation. And how they should keep their opinion regarding their safety first.

4. Show the child how to grief

Don’t use phrases that tell them to be strong and not cry too often. Ask them to open up and share the feelings associated and that they can tell how they actually feel now and then. The grief will be reduced, when it is healed. It will take time and chance to open up and express. Children need permission to express to cry to show anger or to just talk.

Read more: Emotional Abuse - Training Outline

5. Teach children about boundaries

Art can be used in this way to draw the self and respected boundaries with a line on paper and ask the child how he would have liked and the kind of things he wants to allow and those what he should not allow such as uncomfortable touches, getting yelled at, left alone etc.

6. Identify the hurting beliefs and strong beliefs of the child

Allow him to talk about things he doesn’t feel good about and what are the things or objects because of which he feels good and protected with. Ask him to share the good memories too.

7. Identify the hurt-self and the strong-self

You can draw two persons on page and ask the child to mention what are the factors that are associated with hurt to him and those who have hurt him in the past. And what are the strengths he sees in himself or you show him how he can fortify those strong skills.

How to deal with emotionally abandoned and abused teenagers :

People who have been through suffering once can be helped out through following little guidelines:

1.     Where do I start:

Revisit the memory trail, write down in the manner of story, what happened? Possible cues, collateral consequences or factors that facilitated those responses, what you wanted to happen at that time, who do you blame for this, how you would have done these things, another way, how do you feel towards the person involved, how do you see towards yourself been through all this.

Write and rewrite all these things over and over with details. And in this way, many unbound conflicts may resolve and can get over the past with acceptance through bigger picture and all perspectives.

2. Anticipate setbacks:

Children that have been through any traumatic condition in childhood either it is abuse or trauma, take the blame on themselves most of the time. 

Alice Miller, a French Psychologist, suggested that victims of childhood abuse need most what she called compassionate witness to validate their experiences and supports them with their pain. This helps them to heal and it’s very trans-formative.

Gilbert (2009) said that kindness, support, compassion, and encouragement has huge impacts on body and mind. 

Greater self-compassion leads to lesser psychopathology. And it also has positive effects on depression, anxiety, and stress. Self-compassion is the wand that will be needed to decrease the sense of shame and self-guilt associated with the abuse.

Animal Abandonment abuse:

Learn the signs of animal neglect and abuse. Cruelty comes in two forms either direct violence or neglect. Tons of dogs die every year due to neglect.

·         Left outside in extreme weather conditions without proper shelter

·         Poor living conditions i.e dirty, filthy etc

·         Lack of food and water

·         Wounds and patches of missing hair

·         Excessive amounts of animals kept in small space

·         Untreated injury and illnesses

·         Abandonment

·         Prolonged and excessive howling and barking

·         Acts of violence against them

Actions to take:

1.  Contact any emergency no. provided by the Government

2.  Confront the preparator either on-call or one on one

3. Document all the details such as pictures and videos regarding the violence. And all kind of written report and description of the victims.

4.   Be persistent for the follow-up

5. Get involved in an animal cruelty prevention program to learn the basic first aid to animals suffering through extreme conditions moreover be part of basic call out programs.

The interns would be informed about all this and then they will be asked to devise some plan on how to deal with the abandonment victims and how they would react initially to animal abuse in the near future.

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