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4 Most Important Things Abuse and Growing Up Without Parents Taught Me

Ethan is a transgender male actively involved in his local LGBTQ+ community. He writes informative articles on his personal experiences.


Every year more than 3.6 million referrals are made to child protection agencies involving more than 6.6 million children. The Texas Department of Family Protective Services states that there were nearly 21,000 children removed from their homes in 2018. That's nearly 3 removals per 1,000 children.Some 3% of children are not living with any parents, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

I am a Statistic

My mother was 16 when she had me, my father was 22. They were married for a short period and then my mom left. My father was in and out of jail but raised me until I was 4 years old. He was a pill addict and an alcoholic so there was quite a bit of abuse and a nasty custody battle between the two of them. CPS was involved in the case numerous times, and eventually I was left at my Grandparents after age 7.

I have compiled 4 of the most important things that I’ve taken away from my experience as a child who grew up abused and without parents.

My hope is that it can encourage you to be a better parent to your children and also have hopes that if you know a child who is being abused, that you will get them the help they need so they don't have to go through the things that I've gone through.

Parents Do Matter

From age 7, my childhood was spent at my Grandparent’s. Some may say, “Oh well if you had your Grandparents, you had parents.” No. I had Grandparents, not parents. There is a difference, or at least there is to me.

I’ve always had a hunger for the love that only your biological parents can satisfy. Not having parents sent me on a pursuit of something that led me to nearly ending my life several times. Love. That is how powerful parental love is.

Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.

— William Makepeace Thackeray


Childhood Abuse Lasts A Lifetime

When I was 3 years old, I was molested by my step-father while my mother was in bed next to him. I would spend my first 5 years in and out of courtrooms and lawyer's offices recounting what happened to me. On top of that, my father was addicted to Somas and alcohol and turned violent when he wasn't high or drunk. He would beat me until I bled and eventually after my brother was born, would abandon me for good at my Grandparent' house.

Neither of my parents were a stable part of my life because they would go on binges or leave me with relatives, and so a pattern of instability and abuse soon blossomed into a turbulent child and eventually a mentally unstable teenager that turned to sex and hard drugs to run from his problems.

Children who have experienced abuse and neglect are therefore at increased risk for several problematic developmental, health, and mental health outcomes, including learning problems (e.g., problems with inattention and deficits in executive functions), problems relating to peers (e.g., peer rejection), internalizing symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety), externalizing symptoms (e.g., oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, aggression), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

— "Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect," A. C. Petersen, J. Joseph, and M. Felt

Not All The Good Guys Want To Help

One of the things I learned early on is that just because an officer, therapist, doctor, or whoever says that they are your friend and are there to help you doesn’t mean that they are. I’ve had many officers who, when my father was in my life and abusing me, would return me right back into the hands of the abuser.

I see so many cases of this where, like my father, parents abuse their children but then play the innocent and or victim card and the responding officer, therapist, or CPS official simply says, “Yeah, it’s the kid’s fault.” This is UNACCEPTABLE.

The truth is, CPS will do whatever it takes to keep the child with the family. I strongly disagree with this tactic, I think that CPS and the Law should be on the child’s side and not the suspected abuser’s.

You Can End The Cycle

One day, I just decided that things weren’t fun anymore. It wasn’t because my Grandparents spent hours by my side in ICU and visiting me through the glass in jail or at a psychiatric hospital, it wasn’t because I had some life-changing spiritual moment. No, it was because one day, I decided I was going to stop the cycle.
I wouldn’t abuse myself anymore, I wouldn’t be the victim. I’d be a survivor.

You don’t have to continue the vicious cycle of abuse. If you’re being abused, you don’t have to abuse others. You don’t have to abuse yourself. Be proud that you made it through what you did.

If you know someone who is abusing a child, please report them to the local police department and Child Protective Services. Don't wait until it is too late. Be the voice for those who's voice isn't heard.


Committee on Child Maltreatment Research, Policy, and Practice for the Next Decade: Phase II; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Law and Justice; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council; Petersen AC, Joseph J, Feit M, editors. New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2014 Mar 25. 4, Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. Available from:

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