The power of positive engagements

Louis Mellini

On Friday, April 5, I attended the first keynote address during the 27th Annual Breaking the Cycle of Abuse Conference at Bevill State Community College-Hamilton.
The keynote was all about behavior in children, especially those who had been abused.
Presenter Sonia Martin spoke about subjects such as lying, cheating, stealing, manipulation, need for control, violence, aggression and hoarding behaviors in children who have come out of abusive environments.
Admittedly, when I initially heard about the conference and sat in my seat as they prepared to begin, I thought the keynote would be bogged down by loads of technical jargon that would fly over the heads of any in attendance that were not in deep study of the material being covered. To my surprise, however, the keynote was incredibly practical and impactful to anybody who was listening.

During the keynote, Martin continuously expressed that every issue and challenge that comes with raising a child who had come from an abusive environment could be improved by the little day-to-day interactions and engagements between child and caregiver.
This idea seemed to be the foundation of everything she was speaking about, nothing was confusing or overly complicated.
I could be over-simplifying it, but perhaps it’s just that simple.
I’m in no way an expert on the subject, but I believe this idea stretches even beyond the specific situations of child abuse. Human behavior is widely affected and changed by the day-to-day interactions that we have with our surroundings, so it comes as no surprise that the foundation of healing from past traumatic experiences could very well be positive day-to-day engagements with those who are surrounding us and are involved in our lives.
Does this solve everything? Probably not. Every situation is different and requires very specific attention, but this particular keynote presented the hopeful idea that those who are close to someone who had dealt with any traumatic experience, not only in childhood, could be a part of the process of improving their lives.

All it takes from everyone involved is positive day-to-day engagements with those who have lacked exactly that.