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Sen. Scott Brown reveals abuse -- and a pain other survivors know

February 16, 2011|By Mary Forgione, Tribune Health
(Josh Reynolds / Associated…)

Sen. Scott Brown made headlines on Wednesday, revealing that he was sexually and physically abused as a child -- and describing the enduring legacy of that abuse. The news of his struggles may have surprised many Americans; it likely didn't surprise other former victims.

The Massachusetts Republican's frank talk about the physical and sexual abuse that marred his childhood is set to air Sunday during an episode of CBS' "60 Minutes."

Brown, 51, also has written a book due out Tuesday about the trauma associated with being a victim. The U.S. Administration for Children & Families states:

"While physical injuries may or may not be immediately visible, abuse and neglect can have consequences for children, families and society that last lifetimes, if not generations."

The agency's fact sheet (actually a wealth of information, resources and more) says there's no one way that such childhood abuse affects people long-term.

It adds: "Not all abused and neglected children will experience long-term consequences. Outcomes of individual cases vary widely and are affected by a combination of factors, including:

"The child's age and developmental status when the abuse or neglect occurred
The type of abuse (physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, etc.)
The frequency, duration, and severity of abuse
The relationship between the victim and his or her abuser."

The agency also offers lots of information about the warning signs of child neglect and abuse and organizations that can help. In Brown's case, there apparently were multiple abusers, including a camp counselor and his stepfathers.

And he did heed the threat of one of his attackers, according to media reports. Brown says he never told anyone about the abuse until he sat down to write the book.

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