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Evans, A. (2013). Clinical commentary by Dr Angela Evans, child and adolescent psychotherapist in a specialist Looked After Children’s Mental Health Service in Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. J. Child Psychother., 39(3):350-353.

(2013). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 39(3):350-353

Clinical commentary by Dr Angela Evans, child and adolescent psychotherapist in a specialist Looked After Children’s Mental Health Service in Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Angela Evans

Despite having read countless early histories similar to the one described at the beginning of this account, I still feel shocked if I allow myself actually to think about the descriptions and explore the meaning of the words. ‘Domestic violence’ in reality means a small child witnessing, sometimes on a daily basis, her parents physically attacking each other, often to the point where there is a lot of blood, screams and frightening bodily sounds. ‘Physical abuse’ means the child herself also experiencing physical pain and assault and being left unattended in pain whilst swelling then bruising occurs. So by implication ‘physical abuse’ also means ‘emotional abuse’ as the child might try to make sense of her experiences by formulating thoughts like, ‘I have done something wrong’ or ‘I must be bad’. Finally, ‘neglect’ means feeling cold and hungry, experiencing not an absent breast but an attacking breast (Bion, 1962); it means feeling desperately alone with a mother who is physically there but too depressed, distracted or traumatised herself to make a meaningful connection.

With these early experiences, Eve’s infantile formulation of adults would begin to be that adults can’t be trusted and that the world is not a safe place. She has experienced extreme trauma and we read subsequently how her development has been adversely affected.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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