This blog post has been written by Dr Joe Tucci, CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation.
I spent some time recently reading through the literature on poly-victimisation. I remember listening to David Finkelhor more than a decade ago presenting findings from his research that found that many of the children who had been identified as experiencing sexual abuse had also experienced bullying at school, been exposed to family violence and had been physically assaulted as well. This research resonated with me. As a child protection worker early in my career and then as a therapist, children told me about their lived experiences of violation. Many times, they described how they had been terrorised by adults who tortured their siblings or others in the family, then sexually assaulted them and also failed to pay them any attention unless it was for their own self-interest.
Over the past thirty years, the constructs we have used have varied according to whether it was more important to assemble and integrate the abuse types (such as when we used the word – maltreatment) or it was more important to differentiate between abuse types, even producing subcategories of certain types of abuse such as emotional abuse (rejecting, corrupting, isolating).
As knowledge about interpersonal trauma began to be elucidated, the view emerged that abuse and neglect resulted in a similar impact on the brain and body of children – trauma, regardless of the type of abuse or neglect served to prolong the activation of the stress response in children, disrupting their neurobiological architecture.
But this view is being challenged by recent research highlighted by Martin Teicher from Harvard University and his team. Of course, Martin has been one of the leading researchers in the field of childhood trauma for over thirty years. So he is important to listen to, at least from my perspective.Direct link to the article