Teddy bears donated to SABRA children

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 5, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Even though the children of battered women may not be physically harmed, the negative psychological effects can still be great.

A simple caring gesture could go a long way to make those children feel safer.

The Ladies Auxiliary of Selma VFW Post 3016 made that gesture Wednesday afternoon.

By donating teddy bears to the Selma and Blackbelt Region Abuse Sanctuary house (SABRA), Ladies Auxiliary president Jane Thomas said that more local children of abused mothers would feel cared for.

“It’s some little gift we can give to children that have been abused,” Thomas said. “I imagine if you’ve got a battered wife, you’ve probably got a battered child.”

About 60 teddy bears were donated to the SABRA house. They will be given to children who come in with their mothers.

The bears will hopefully act as a type of blanket – giving the children some sense of security during an emotionally and mentally confusing time.

Though many men limit direct abuse to their wives or girlfriends, their children still suffer from being in the environment.

“Not all men who abuse their spouses abuse their children, but it can lead to that,” SABRA Prevention Educator Sabrah Agee said. “Children suffer even if they’re not physically abused. Just being in that environment is harmful. (The teddy bears) serve a great purpose because a lot of times when they come in, their mothers have to leave quickly. To have a stuffed animal to hold and to call their own means a lot to the children.”

Agee was uncertain about the number of women SABRA helps each year, but she did say the house is almost never empty.

The Ladies Auxiliary has been donating bears to SABRA for several years, according to Patsy Stone. It usually does so around Christmas time, but wasn’t able to do so this past December.

“We’ve had so many things going on this year, we just didn’t get it done,” Stone said. “I know they have a lot of kids coming in with abused women. I talked with (SABRA executive director) Nancy Travis, and she said any time would be a good time. So we thought we’d do it around Easter.”

The delay was actually a good thing in a couple of ways. It coincides with Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

It also means more bears for more kids.

Though black eyes and bruises are telltale signs of an unhealthy relationship, there are equally destructive things that don’t show themselves to the observing eye.

Agee said the SABRA house is there even for women that don’t have scars to show for their pains.

“There are all kinds of abuse,” Agee said. “Some people don’t even realize they’re in an abusive relationship because there’s no actual hitting. But emotional abuse is nearly as bad. A lot of it blends in cycles. If a boy grows up in an abusive home, he’s more likely to be an abusive partner. Is a girl grows up in an abusive home, she’s likely to be with an abusive partner.”

Agee said women are not the only victims of abuse, however.

“Although most women are abuse victims, men are sometimes abused,” Agee said. “But it’s more likely to be an emotional or psychological abuse just because of the sheer physical difference. And men are less likely to report abuse because of social reasons.”