Psychologist: Look for signs of abuse

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Natchez psychologist Patricia Pintard said parents might notice changes in their children’s behavior if they are being sexually abused.

&uot;Know your children. Be open to what your child is telling you or saying and especially to what they may not be able to say,&uot; Pintard said.

Abused children seldom have physical signs, so parents should looks for the psychological or emotional signs, Pintard said.

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Such advice seems more pertinent in Natchez this week, since law enforcement agencies arrested three adults for committing sexual offenses with minors.

&uot;It is truly one of the most fearful experiences a child can have, if not the most (fearful),&uot; Pintard said.

Often children who are being abused will exhibit increased fears, new behavior or sexual behavior if they are being victimized, Pintard said.

They also tend to fear punishment by the person abusing them, she said.

In abuse cases, parents should listen and be open to what their children are telling them, but it is also important to stay calm and seek help in asking tough questions, Pintard said.

Parents should also remember it is not their fault, if their child is abused.

&uot;It does not necessarily mean you have been a bad parent,&uot; Pintard said.

Although Pintard, said she does not work with young children, she has seen the residual impact of abuse in countless cases.

Symptoms often resurface, once a victim has become an adult, marries and has children, she said.

Despite a common misconception, the majority of sexual abuse victims do not grow up to be abusers. &uot;Many people who are abused are confused by what they perceive as their destiny to be abusers,&uot; Pintard said.