Tag: abuse

What everyone should know re abuse

 

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.”

[From ASCA Survivor-to-Thriver online Manual, Chapter 3]

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.”

[From Survivor-to-Thriver online Manual, Chapter 3]

Never blame the child/ youth for the abuse committed against them.  Never.

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I Know Because It Happened To Me

“So often survivors have had their experiences denied, trivialized, or distorted.  Writing is an important avenue for healing because it gives you the opportunity to define your own reality.  You can say: This did happen to me.  It was that bad.  It was the fault and responsibility of the adult.  I was — and am — innocent.”

(TCTH, p.27)

I know people who don’t have any comprehension of what it means to have been sexually abused as a child/youth, and in their ignorance they somehow (almost always) leap to “why didn’t you tell anyone?”  There are many answers to that question, but one of the things that is so offensive about it is that it possibly implies the continued abuse is the fault of the child/youth because, in not being able to tell someone or to get an adult to believe/understand them, then maybe some of the fault is with the child/youth.  Why isn’t the first question adults ask in the face of abuse stories, “who was the jerk?” or “where were the adults who should have stopped the pervert?” or “why is society so blind (and to some degree complicit)?”.  Or better yet, rather than ask a question that would put the victim on the defense or responsible for explaining perverted-adult-behavior, simply say  “I am SO sorry you experienced this terrible offense against you!”

I will be writing much more in future posts about my experience of having my experience trivialized/ distorted, but for now I simply want to say to my peers, my fellow-survivors: now as an adult, I am so sorry you experienced this heinous offense against your sacred, innocent person.  And I am so grateful you survived.  I pray you will find the strength within to advance your healing; I pray you will find wholeness.

Break the Silence


“No matter how committed you are, it is extremely difficult to heal from child sexual abuse in isolation.  Much of the damage experienced is the result of the secrecy and silence that surrounded the abuse.  Trying to heal while perpetuating that lonely silence is nearly impossible.”  (TCTH, p.22)

*TCTH = The Courage To Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis

Help Lines and Links

Helpful crisis phone-numbers and links

  1. From https://www.helpguide.org/articles/suicide-prevention/suicide-prevention-helping-someone-who-is-suicidal.htm If you are thinking about suicide, please call the national suicide prevention lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or for helpline outside US, visit Suicide.org.
  2. National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse: http://www.naasca.org/  This organization has lots of great, free, online help for Adult Survivors of any form of Child Abuse.  You can also find information about peer-support groups in your geographical area associated with this organization.

 

I will continue to add to this list as I find resources I recommend.

I am listing the suicide prevention lifeline again in big font for easy reading:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)