Cinderella is meant to be a fairy tale, but for some, her story is a dark, expressive reality.
when Ari Sherfield Stepfather entered her life, everything changed. At the age of seven, she was entrusted with household chores and taking care of her younger siblings. She was also the only one in her family who was physically abused, sometimes for trivial things like “breathing very hard”.
This was in stark contrast to her siblings’ experience: the same parents who abused Sherfield treated her biological brothers and sisters with love, kindness, and compassion.
“My mom has definitely made it clear that she prefers my siblings,” says Sherfield, who is now 22. Doing extracurricular activities…
The experience eventually forced her to cut off contact with her family.
People often assume that Mischievous people mistreat everyone, but some discriminate in their mistreatment. It’s what experts call the “Cinderella phenomenon,” which occurs when a child in the family is singled out and abused while other children aren’t.
I wanted to be so loved by them. and tried.
To this day, Sherfield does not understand why she was mistreated. When her stepfather entered her life, her family became more religious and conservative, and she was resistant to these changes. I always assumed she was abused because she spoke up and rebelled. Regardless, she wasn’t worth it: No kid does.
in 2019, agencies received a total of 4.4 million referral reports of child abuse.
“There are many factors involved in the risk of abuse,” she says. Janet Shedd Professor of Psychiatry at Michigan State University. “Sometimes, it’s not about the child but more about the parents’ sense of their ability to manage what they might see as a challenge or a difference from the child.”
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When one child is targeted, the abuse they experience can be particularly harmful.
“If children don’t have a strong support system that brings them resilience, that can make the experience more difficult until they go through on their own,” Shedd adds. And when children report abuse and don’t feel it backed by their safety and well-being, which makes it even more difficult to deal with trauma later on.”
Along with abuse and abuse By her parents, Sherfield felt isolated.
“I see my brother and sister posting (on social media) about how amazing my mum is and how she’s always there for them,” she says. “They all have strong relationships with my mom… It makes me feel bad, frankly.”
An older child may be at greater risk
Although called the “Cinderella phenomenon,” the term doesn’t just describe parents. Shedd says the term includes abusive biological parents as well.
“It’s used more broadly in part because Cinderella’s experience as a character hits on many different things that are reflected in people’s personal experiences. …Some people use it more broadly to reflect on their experience of feeling disconnected, disinterested, and unappreciated.”
Jessica Rossacker says her father singled her out for abuse, since she was two years old. He became focused on baseless fears that she was not his biological daughter, and as a result began to abuse her. The abuse became physical as she got older, Rossacker says.
However, her younger siblings survived: As the oldest child, 20-year-old Rossacker struggled alone and hid the abuse from her siblings.
Shedd says it’s not uncommon for an older child to suffer the brunt of abuse.
“Sometimes over time and after having more children, there may be ways in which abusive parents change as they gain more experience in the relationships they have with their children,” Shedd explains. “Unfortunately, the older child is often placed in a position of authority, so their parents may have higher expectations of them which can be a contributing factor.”
It can take a lifetime to overcome trauma
Child abuse and abuse is rampant, and it affects this More than 7.9 million children As of 2019.
According to the Center for Disease Control and PreventionChildren with disabilities are more vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Shedd says a child who embodies a “physical reminder” of someone stemming from a parent’s past may be a target.
It is essential to encourage victims to seek help. Only 60% of children received prevention and post-response services, a 2019 report found. But Shedd says trauma-informed care is especially important, because these children are more likely to develop mental health problems including Post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and suicide.
For Sherfield, it took years to get over the abuse and the resulting anxiety.
“The way people who are supposed to love you treat you affects your relationships. I had to get rid of all the toxic behaviors that appeared to me growing up. I had to learn how to properly manage my anger, how to communicate without shutting down, not wanting to provoke The issues are because I am scared of being yelled at for how I feel.”
And while Rossacker is still dealing with it Post Traumatic Stress DisorderShe says she did everything to “break the cycle” for the sake of her children.
“I now have two children, and they are living my childhood dream,” she says. “They are the happiest little humans, they are fed, clean, lovable and have a safe and happy home. I promised myself I would never let my children relive my childhood. I kept that promise to myself.”
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Parents who need speaking support can call the National Parent Helpline at 1-855-427-2736 or the Child Helpline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD. To report child abuse or neglect, contact law enforcement or child protection services in your county.