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surviving neglect

i talk about this periodically and i generally wish it was something that i saw more often (but i don’t mean at the expense of people who suffered/survived various kinds of abuse or anything like that). i just wish i was able to find/see/communicate more often with other people who might be inclined to consider themselves survivors of neglect.

from the wiki article:

Child neglect is a form of child maltreatment. Child neglect is a deficit in meeting a child’s basic needs. Furthermore, child neglect is the failure to provide basic physical health care, supervision, nutrition, emotional nurturing, education or safe housing. Society generally believes there are necessary behaviors a caregiver must provide a child in order for the child to develop (physically, socially, and emotionally). Child neglect depends on how a child and society perceives the parents’ behavior; it is not how the parent believes they are behaving towards their child (Barnett et al., p. 84). Parental failure to provide when options are available is different from failure to provide when options are not available. Poverty is often an issue and leads parents to not being able to provide. The circumstances and intentionality must be examined before defining behavior as neglectful. Child neglect is the most frequent form of abuse of children, with children that are born to young mothers at a substantial risk for neglect.

it strikes me as interesting that this can say outright that “child neglect is the most frequent form of abuse of children” but it isn’t something that ever really seems to be discussed often (although, it is highly likely that these discussions are happening in places i’m not privy too).

i remember when i first started doing research into childhood neglect and its impact on adults. all i could find was stuff that was basically “child abuse and neglect” and most of the books basically focused on various types of abuse. Many mentioned that there really aren’t that many studies that really focus on the longterm effects of neglect. or even the short term ones.

the information i did find tended to suggest the impacts are as bad/serious as abuse (and definitely not great when combined with abuse). some of the research suggested that the impacts might be more subtle and longer lasting, because there is no trauma to heal and so it is hard to isolate anything specific to heal (this is also why, i think it is also really ahrd to talk about).

but i’m sort of interested in the framing, as well, that idk, i don’t think i’ve met anyone who IDs as a survivor of neglect. fuck. i don’t even say that about myself.

idk. given that neglect isnt a single incident (or a series of incidents). neglect is more about what parents didn’t do. idk. it is an absence.

what does it actually mean to survive neglect? at what point do you say “i survived”? is it when i recover my sense of worth? when i am able to embody the happy, outgoing child i once was?

i wish i knew. i wish i could read stories from other survivors. fuck. i even wish there was some reductive and kinda irritating book written by a white academic.

i wish