An experienced social worker, Marla Harding most recently served as an intake coordinator for Shelter, Inc. in California. Prior to that, she spent several years in Washington as a state social worker. Throughout her career, Marla Harding has largely focused on helping families and children. She has been especially involved in matters involving physical and sexual child abuse.
Child abuse is extremely damaging to children, whether it is physical, emotional, or sexual. Physical abuse is the most recognizable form of abuse because much of the evidence of physical abuse is noticeable. Defined as a non-accidental injury or series of injuries, physical abuse includes such things as welts, strangulation, cigarette burns, and internal injuries. Most children who are physically abused experience emotional trauma in addition to the physical trauma, and may eventually suffer from learning disorders and poor physical growth as a result of the abuse.
Emotional abuse is the willful destruction of a child’s competence and is more difficult to identify. It includes everything from name-calling and ridicule to excessive criticism and excessive demands. Children who are being emotionally abused tend to separate themselves from their abuser and internalize the message being repeated to them. They may also start insulting their abuser or redirect their abuse onto another sibling.
Meanwhile, sexual abuse is the exploitation of a children for an adult’s sexual gratification and may involve pornography, molesting, or exposure. It could also come in the form of unwanted touching or kissing or spying on a child as they undress. Most sexual abusers are someone known to the child and there are a wide number of long-term effects, such as low self-esteem and post-traumatic stress disorder. As the abuse continues, the effects often become more significant.