Too many people really don’t have a clue about sexual abuse. And those of us who know from direct experience are often not interested in educating others because it is just so damn painful. Excruciating. We were silenced then. Why speak up now? Because: as long as society at large remains ignorant about abuse, society becomes willingly or unwillingly complicit in fostering abuse and harboring abusers.
Here’s the first thing you need to know about sexual abuse against children/ youth:
“When children participate to some degree in the sexual contact or are unable (as is usually the case) to find a way to prevent the abuse from happening, the guilt and shame over their involvement often causes severe consequences. If there were some pleasurable sensations from the contact (common when the abuse involves fondling), children often interpret their feelings as evidence of their culpability and responsibility. Children do not usually understand that the responsibility for preventing sexual expression of affection lies with the parent or adult.”
When otherwise healthfully loving adults surrounding the child/ youth don’t understand the dynamics of an adult sexually abusing a minor, they often compound the abuse; they might have no intention of doing so, but that’s what happens to the child/ youth none-the-less.
“In cases where the sexual abuse occurs outside of the home, the reaction of the family is paramount in shaping the degree of impact on the child. When the family is supportive, gets immediate help for the child and avoids any blaming or stigmatization, the long-term effects can be lessened. However, when the family does not understand, blames the child for the sexual abuse or is unable to accept that the child was victimized, the impact can be truly devastating because the family’s reaction confirms the child’s worst fears: that s/he did something wrong or did not do enough to prevent the sexual abuse. In these cases, the family members become co-conspirators in the abuse because, in failing to give the child what s/he needs during a time of tragedy, they may do far more damage to the child than did the abuser. It is no surprise that children will feel stigmatized by the sexual abuse if their families treat them with disdain and disgust.”
Never blame the child/ youth for the abuse committed against them. Never.