Friday, June 18, 2010

Protecting Little Girls

By Richard P. Holm MD

Lying on the rolling cot in the emergency room, the beautiful six-year-old little girl was unconscious with bruises on her head, face, and scattered over her body. “Please help her,” pleaded the woman with a baby in her arms. She told me the little girl had been trying to learn how to ride the bike her Daddy had just purchased for her, and I believed what the woman told me.

After the bleed into the brain was diagnosed the story unfolded, and I learned that the woman was not the mother of the injured girl, rather the girlfriend of the father and that the overwhelming evidence showed the physical abuse came from the girlfriend. No one had been there to protect that little girl, and she died a day later from severe head trauma.

Child abuse is only one kind of violence, which can occur between members of any group of people living together. The American Psychiatric Association defines domestic violence as control by one family member over another with some kind of physical, sexual, emotional and/or economic abuse. It comes down to an issue of power, where someone with the upper hand takes advantage of another.

The Centers for Disease Control states that we know about only one third of the cases, and estimates that domestic violence affects more than 32 million Americans, or over ten percent of the U.S. population.

Why does this happen? Is it because our human nature wants to put someone else down when feeling inadequate or angry with our self? Is it because children who are raised in a home where it is not safe learn to threaten and bully rather than to protect people close to them, and this kind of activity perpetuates itself?

No one should have to live in a home where someone with an upper hand abuses another person, a spouse, a partner, a child, or even an elderly parent. Our job in this family of humanity is to find ways to protect little girls and everyone else from those who are threatening abuse.

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