I have made no secret that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I choose not to perpetuate the stigma and the secret that gives that abuse life long power. What I do know is only one of my perpetrators was a non family member. ONE. Out of 6 in my lifetime from age of 4 upwards. Did you just stop there and re-read that. I said 4. So today when I learned of another abuse case by a family member on a child, I was heartbroken.* I must say this abuse did not occur in my family.It was not even anyone I know, but the fact that it happened still bothers me, the fact that it was a family member abusing their child sickens me even more. I want it all to stop. I want kids to be able to be kids, not life long victims. I am aware that some will say, oh but in most cases the abusers were abused themselves in their youth. To that I say bullshit. Ya know what so was I, I am not an abuser. The thought alone sickens me. Some of you will say most perpetrators are men, which I will agree with, but even at that I believe it would still sicken me . Did you also know in many cases if inquiries were done often the information comes out the child’s mother was a victim herself. That was the case for me and many I know like me. My mother grew up in a time you didn’t talk about it, to anyone. It was just something that happened. No . No it isn’t. It never should have been. Ever.
So tonight individuals around the person being abused questioned why the victim had never said anything, it had been occurring for years. I can answer that. Because we are ashamed. Because we are scared. Because eventually it becomes the norm and we learn to disassociate ourselves mentally from the actual act. We can be mentally skipping rope in the front yard while physically we are being assaulted. Perpetrators have become talented at twisting and turning the abuse into something we tolerate. Many time even blaming the victim for ‘asking’ for it by our dress, or the way we looked at them. We don’t tell because we fear no one will believe us. We fear the loss of everything we hold dear, we fear not only feeling dirty , tainted and used but being treated as such.
What angers me the most is we teach our children about strangers. How no one but mommy and daddy have the right to see our private areas, or touch us there. See that line right there. That is wrong NO ONE not even MOMMY OR DADDY has a right to touch us in a way that makes us uncomfortable. EVER. If we, as parents explain to the child that even we are not above that feeling they will feel safer to come to us and say, by the way I was uncomfortable with that touch. If we LISTEN to the child, we can deal with it right then. Not brush it off as something they took the wrong way. Being uncomfortable with something is okay. We want them to respect us, we need to do the same. Within limits. Teach them that saying that does not mean they can run around saying ” I am uncomfortable cause I am mad at you for something.” It is not something to be taken lightly. But if your child is uncomfortable with say you coming in the bathroom when they are in there, respect that. Unless they are small children, then explain why you must be in the bathroom but find a way to keep them safe and feeling heard and respected. So if you need to maybe pluck your eyebrows while your child takes her bath or plays for a bit in the tub, do it, while allowing your child to have their privacy. This of course applies to young children like toddlers who should never be left alone in water, period.
I am sick for their mother, who had the person she chose to spend her life with betray her and their children. I am sickened for the child who has endured this for her life. We warn our kids of strangers, but the stranger in this case was someone they both loved and trusted to protect not harm.
• 89% of child sexual assault cases involve persons known to the child, such as a caretaker or family acquaintance.
-Diana Russell Survey, 1978 Granted these reports are old but the fact is most abusers are KNOWN to the victim and their families. Period.
• 29% of child sexual abuse offenders are relatives, 60% are acquaintances, and only 11% are strangers.
-Diana Russell, The Secret Trauma, NY:Basic Books, 1986.
• For the vast majority of child victimizers in State prison, the victim was someone they knew before the crime. 1/3 had committed their crime against their own child, about 1/2 had a relationship with the victim as a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring, about 1 in 7 reported the victim to have been a stranger to them.
-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.
• 3/4 of the violent victimizations of children took place in either the victim’s home or the offenders home.
-BJS Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991.
• Males are reported to be the abusers in 80-95% of cases
-Thoringer, D., et al., 1988.
• About 60% of the male survivors sampled report at least one of their perpetrators to be female.
Keep in mind some of these statistics are older but still hold true. But we can change them. Working together to train our children, know the signs and signals. Never doubt our instincts. We know, most of the time we know something is off. Trust those instincts and ask, question, remind your child that you will keep them safe from anyone trying to harm them. It starts today…