Physical abuse can begin as early as infancy. Parents might strike a child out of frustration or in believing they are protecting their child from some harm such as touching a harmful object such as a hot oven. Later on as a toddler is walking and becomes curious about discovering the world around them, they might get slapped for doing something they shouldn’t or especially for doing something that might cause them physical harm. It might not be an intentional physical abuse but it has the same effect as emotional abuse.
Discipline is a vital component of any child’s growth. They need to learn their boundaries and be taught right from wrong. But there is a way to temper the reaction to make sure it does not inspire long-term negative reactions in children.
I remember hearing my mother say “Count to ten before you react!.” But I don’t remember her exercising the counting process herself. Both of my parents had short fuses, which was a direct result of their parents inflicting physical abuse on them throughout their childhood.
But adults have the same reactions as children do when they are physically abused.
I was in a restaurant in Chico in the late 70s when I noticed a young woman picking an olive off of her date’s piece of pizza. He immediately struck her in the face! Everyone around me flinched. I wanted to jump up and defend her but my date insisted it was none of my business and I could cause her more harm by interfering. No one did or said anything, not even the other couple they were with.
The challenge is, was it my duty to step in? Was it her lesson to learn to stand up for herself? Would she have to experience physical abuse until she stood up for herself?