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Silence as the Language and Landscape of Abuse

  • Donna GilbreathEmail author
Reference work entry

Abstract

Child abuse spans the depths of human history and traverses the myriad landscapes across the globe. It happens at all scales, from an individual home to the international realm where trafficking crosses country borders. Child abuse is marked by a common language – silence – because when children (or adults for that matter) are confined to an abusive situation, they are compelled by their abuser and societal norms, as well as by feelings of guilt and shame, to carry the burden of their abuse alone. As represented by two very similar cases that share the same circumstances across time, the silence of child abuse in the past is linked with the same silence in the present day. To illustrate the ubiquity of child abuse across space, the author identifies and maps places where child abuse often occurs at the neighborhood level and at the international level, presenting conceptual landscapes of abuse. The next section focuses on deconstructing a few thought processes of an abused child, presenting ideas as to how those thoughts might shape an abused child’s internal dialogue. Finally, the chapter considers how the impact of an abused child’s internal dialogue might skew the child’s mental reality as he or she becomes an adult. Unlike most clinical, scientific, or academic publications, this chapter does not delve into statistics about abuse or focus on key points from seminal works on the subject. Rather, this chapter’s contribution to the topic is that it exposes some silences surrounding abuse and gives insight into the internal dialogue experienced by a child abused through the lens of one woman’s real-life experience. Be warned: It is not pretty.

Keywords

Thoughts Internal dialogue Nonverbal language Fear Abuse Unspoken Silences Conceptual mapping Child abuse prevention 

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Map Sources

    Sources for Figure 5: Efforts to Combat Child Abuse Map

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Handbook of the Changing World Language Map projectUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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