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Childhood deeply impacts the way in which mannerisms and personalities are formed. Traumatic events remain within the mind of individuals for upwards of years, if not one's entire lifetime. Parenting styles, additionally, create a sense of familiarity and allow children to recognize appropriate relationships with their parents, other adults, and peers. The combination of nurture and discipline produces a child who respects boundaries, has empathy, and has confidence within his or herself. On the contrary, raising a child with strict leniency or in a state of constant negligence and abuse leads to the development of inimical characteristics. Hence, the cognition of the child can not prosper, which in return generates reticence. In The Color Purple, by Alice Walker, perpetual torment and abuse are prevalent within the life of Celie, thus heavily influencing her disposition.
In the article, “Domestic Violence and Children,” abuse degenerated many of the ways in which a person develops, but author Gail Hornor spoke of the necessity of third-person parties to assist and recognize abuse. Both the article and the novel conclude that domestic neglect adversely influences cognitive and social growth, but allowing others to help the victim brings attention to the abuse, and aids in the healing process of the victim.
Celie’s character was altered by the ongoing domestic physical and domestic abuse by her father, leaving her in a quiet and dismal state. When she was only “fourteen years old,” (Walker 1) Celie underwent the first, of many, instances of rape. The father noticed his wife was “too sick to last [any longer]” (Walker 1) and resorted to receiving sexual gratification from his daughter, something Celie would “never get used to” (Walker 1). Frequent molestation destroyed her sense of innocence as a child. All Celie grasped was that she constantly felt “sick and fat,” (Walker 10) which she later recognized as one of several pregnancies. Both lives of Celie’s children were immediately terminated; she speculated her dad “took it. . .[and] killed it out there in the woods” (Walker 2). Not knowing entirely what transpired to her children, she regularly pondered what truly happened to her progeny. After the death of her mother, Celie fulfilled the role as a motherly figure of the family and began to care deeper for her sister.
Abiding through numerous years of sexual abuse and rape, Celie noticed “how [dad started] looking at [her] little sister,” (Walker 3). When Mr.____ was looking for a new husband, it was suggested that Nettie would endure identical sexual abuse—Celie’s worst fear for her sister. The father told Mr.____ that he couldn’t have Nettie “not now, not ever” (Walker 8). Instead, after impregnating Celie “twice” (Walker 8) he gave her up; she was “big. . .ugly. . .[and she] ain’t smart” (Walker 8). Thus, once monotony arose from abusing Celie, he offered her away for marriage. He then commenced the wrongdoings on Nettie, of whom was a “fresh woman” (Walker 8). Separated from her family by her new marriage, Celie remained fearful of her sister, “wondering if [she was] safe” (Walker 12) alone with their father.
Continuous domestic sexual abuse became a methodical part of life for the two sisters. Not only was sexual abuse a normal occurrence in the household, but physical abuse was also prevalent. Celie said her father “beat [her] for dressing trampy, but he [would have] done it to [her] anyways” (Walker 7). More specifically suggesting that the physical altercations were often refuted with an excuse, in this situation her attire. Although he disproved of her clothing, he would have beaten her regardless of whether or not “she deserved” (Walker 14) the beatings. Celie wrote in a note to God that she “don’t bleed no more” (Walker 5). Although the literal translation signifies that she is no longer menstruating because of her pregnancy, the note to God metaphorically implies that she no longer feels pained by the beatings. Physical disputes minimally affected the sisters, rather the combination of emotional and sexual abuse deeply altered their personalities.
Constantly being compared to her sister, Celie’s self-confidence further deteriorated her ability to speak up for herself; her father repeatedly stated that she was so “ugly. . .[that she] doesn’t even look kin to Nettie” (Walker 8). She “didn’t know” (Walker 10) what was going on, but said that she only looks at women “because [she’s] not scared of them” (Walker 5). The consolidation of neglect within the household forced Celie to develop into a circumspect individual, removing her strength to perceive the horrid state in which she lived.
Since abuse was prevalent within her childhood, Celice succumbed to the naive effects of abuse and lacked the necessary mentality to acknowledge the degrading relationship she was in. Newlywed, Celie found herself in the exact same abusive situation as she was in before. Her new family with Mr._____ even more so lacked order and control than her previous living arrangement; the children “scream [and] cry themselves to sleep” (Walker 12). Mr.____ “brought her here, dropped her,” (Walker 20) and left Celie to care for his children while he ran “after Shug Avery” (Walker 20). Mentally exasperated from the “rotten children,” (Walker 17) Celie began to decay further into a state of helplessness. Celie deliberately told her sister that she “got to fight,” (Walker 17) but could not act in the same way she encouraged others. She told God that she ought to fight for herself, but could not obtain rebellion by virtue of the point that she “don’t know how to fight, all [she] know how to do is stay alive” (Walker 17). Kate and Carrie, Mr.____’s sisters, came to visit her brother's new wife. Pleased by the very “clean house” (Walker 19) Celie kept, the sisters observed that Celie was a good “housekeeper [and] cook [and she was] good with the children” (Walker 20).
Both girls confirmed that their brother “couldn’t have done better [finding a wife] if he tried” (Walker 20). It was disclosed to the sisters that their brother “beat [Celie] like he beat the children” (Walker 22) in a moment of Celie’s vulnerability. Kate was shocked to see the absence of concern regarding Celie’s well-being and claimed that she “deserved more than this” (Walker 21). In an attempt to relieve Kate’s apprehension for Celie’s safety, Celie prompted to subdue her suffering by first acknowledging Sofia's newly abusive marriage. Harpo regularly “punched her in the stomach” (Walker 37) and Sofia “threw him over her [into the stove]” (Walker 37) amongst numerous mental and physical “ bruises” (Walker 36). Confrontation of other individuals marriages aided in the healing of Celie. She noticed the “shameful” (Walker 40) abusive relationship Sofia was forced to suffer through.
This moment, in return, brought Celie realization that she, herself, was experiencing an immoral, abusive relationship. Sofia unveiled that, within her childhood, she “had to fight [her] daddy. . .brothers. . .cousins. . .[and] uncles,” (Walker 40) closing her memory with her notion that “a girl child ain’t safe in a family of men” (Walker 40). Since both girls adolescence revolved around their fear of men, they felt safe around one another and commenced their desire to dimish their constant “terrible feelings” (Walker 42). Through unrelenting support from Celie, Sofia acquired the tenacity to “travel down the road” (Walker 104) with her children and leave Harpo. Now free from abuse, Sofia prospered. Celie, contrarily, chose to wait to leave her husband. Although Sofia forced Celie to accept the abuse she was enduring, she lacked the incentive to actually escape from her husband.
Female empowerment and idolization, through the form of Shug Avery’s recognition, furthermore encouraged Celie to gain confidence to depart from her abusive relationship. From the instant she was exposed to Shug, “the first real person” (Walker 6) that she had ever seen, Celie found contentment in looking at the woman. Abuse generated Celie’s fear of men, which provoked an inclination towards women. When Celie was in “bed crying,” (Walker 7) she “took out a picture of Shug Avery” (Walker 7) and obtained tranquility by looking into her eyes; they told her “yeah it bees that way sometimes” (Walker 8). Celie wished to possess the state of euphoria in which Shug portrayed, dreaming of “whirling and laughing” (Walker 6) eventually. Even though her current situation was inadequate, idolizing Shug, to such an extent, facilitated eagerness to leave her relationship. When the time came that Celie finally met Shug, an immediate aura of security was felt by the two women.
Together, the two women were powerful, but alone Celie was fragile and incapable to stand up for herself; they told each other that they were two “married ladies” (Walker 108) experiencing similar abuse, accompanying one another. Knowing it was in Celie’s best interest to defeat her abuser alone, Shug told her that she had to “fight for herself” (Walker 21). When Shug was not present “he beat [her]” (Walker 74) due to the mere fact that Celie felt powerless without others nearby. Shug stressed her belief that overcoming abuse requires an urgency for one to conquer his or her fears. First, Celie confessed to Shug that “it hurt [her]” (Walker 111) to never feel “true love” (Walker 111). The pair were inseparable and related to each other, which further developed their relationship. Through constant encouragement from Shug and persistent animosity she felt for her husband, Celie eventually “[gave] it to him straight” (Walker 205). He told her that she was “nothing at all” (Walker 206) and that he should have “locked [her] up” (Walker 206) in the house to clean. She declared that he “better stop talking” (Walker 206) to her, and, together, Shug and Celie left. The eternal desire to become a “big, strong, [and] healthy” (Walker 67) woman was finally satisfied through Celie’s defense. Shug implemented determination in Celie, through her role as Celie’s mentor, giving her the ability to defeat her abuser.
Horner's article proved the debilitating influence of household abuse on children. When an individual performs these debilitating actions, he or she typically lacks repentance for the victim. The temperament of the abusive individual is methodically calculated due; these actions are “designed to manipulate, control, and dominate. . to achieve compliance and dependence” (Horner 1) over the victim. Abuse persists for an extended period of time by virtue of the lack of realization coming from the abuser. Horner stressed the major “psychological consequences” that result from repeated neglect, more specifically in “poverty” (Horner) ridden families. Most of the time children are the most conscious of parental neglect but they often fail to inform others of their situation. Disregarding the reality of the horrid state in which they reside in, children succumb to a “range of psychopathology” (Horner 2) obstacles. Although it has been believed in the past that physical violence straightforwardly affects character development, Horner’s studies prove otherwise. She found that the “results from domestic violence. . .leads to emotional problems. . .[and] not the violence directly” (Horner 2). Hence, physical altercations commence a multitude of emotional growth problems on the victim, which eventually initiates emotional abuse.
However, the three distinctions of abuse appear to “coexist” (Horner 5) with one another, the variations being physical abuse, emotional abuse, and sexual abuse. When physical abuse is already present, it “increases the risk for sexual abuse” (Horner 2). These results of “forced sex” (Horner 2) typically occur before the age of “17 years old” (Horner 2) and transpire around the inception of a woman's fertility. Now fertile, this furthermore complicates the female’s well being, due to the fact that sexual assault or rape results in pregnancies. The notion that the parents of the new offspring come from the same family produces an entirely new “severity” (Horner 2) of the situation. Not only is the mother at risk for a vast measure of “maternal stress,” (Horner 2) but she also becomes more susceptive to “substance abuse” (Horner). Knowing that the birth of the child is presumably lethal, the mother may exhibit inadequate care for the infant, typically resulting in death of the unborn child. The “suffering” (Horner 2) of the victim occurs even after the abuse has ended, due to cognitive damage and the permanent “intense psychological distress” (Horner 3).
Frequent parental neglect degrades one's ability to escape abusive relationships in the future, thus persisting into adulthood. Within the article, Horner found that undergoing a corrupt parenting style “increases the risk for a child to be in a violent relationship as an adult” (Horner 3). Routinely, the victim feels “rage, shame, and betrayal” (Horner 3) for getting him or herself into the predicament, but refutes the need to withdraw him or herself from the relationship. An “intense fear [of] running away” (Horner 3) from the circumstance engulfs the person; he or she may consider a “sense of responsibility for the violence” (Horner 4). These intense feelings of condemnation upon oneself misleads one to then feel remorse for seeking relief. Hence, making the person feel obligated to remain in contact with the abuser. Additionally, since a person of intimacy previously exposed him or her to “intrusive recollections” (Horner 3) of physical misconduct, it leads the individual to believe that abuse is a rational response to anger. The victim feels as if negligence is healthy, and develops a “numbing of responsiveness” (Horner 4) to the “repetitive trauma” (Horner 3). Perception becomes distorted, allowing the victim to truly believe abuse is a common foundation of relationships.
Revictimization continues due to the distorted mindset, resulting in a heightened difficulty to leave the unsafe relationship. To initiate a desire to leave the perilous situation, requires “timely identification” (Horner 4) of others to assist in breaking the “hypervigilant” (Horner 4) state of mind.
The complex ability of one to overcome abuse becomes simpler with the guidance of other people, according to “Domestic Violence and Children.” Issues, including the feeling of “helplessness” (Horner 3) that stems from abuse, deteriorates the ability of an individual to seek assistance in recovery. A “moral obligation” (Horner 7) to mediate between the abuser and the victim exists in situations where others speculate that abuse is present. Suspectors typically experience a “dilemma of appropriate intervention,” (Horner 6) in which they fear accusation may further ostracize the victim. Horner advises suspects of harmful relationships to “ask questions in a private setting” (Horner 6) to ensure the safety of the individual.
Encouraging the concept of an “open discussion,” (Horner 7) where the speculator is able to express “concerns” (Horner 7) for the victim of abuse, ensures comfortability. In addition to expressing concerns, it is advised to encourage the victim to “make a plan” (Horner 7) of escape when the time is right. Ultimately, the “victim best knows when it is safe to leave” (Horner 6) to the abusive relationship. Since the majority of time “understand and coping” (Horner 7) with the abuse is the hardest part, the job of others is to create a “safe, stable, and nurturing environment” (Horner 7) in which the victim may rely on. It is the responsibility of others to “intervene appropriately” (Horner 5) to guide victims towards conquering abusive relationships.