Sunday, January 4, 2009

Sexual Abuse: A Crime of the Attacker and the Parent of Remiss

Sexual abuse is a serious crime. According to Allaboutcounseling.com, one in three girls and one in five boys are sexually abused before the age of eighteen. This crime can be viewed as even more heinous because of the persons who are the abusers. A person would like to think that the persons committing these crimes are criminals on the streets, the common rapist or volatile stranger. However, the most common pedophiles are those persons that children look up to and trust, more specifically and commonly, a family member or person living within the family household.

There is a joint “crime” in addition to the sexual abuse that is rarely discussed: the crime of the adults or parents who do not invite their children to trust them or confide in them. According to Susan Forward, Ph.D., the author of Innocence and Betrayal Overcoming the Legacy of Sexual Abuse, ninety percent of sexual abuse victims never tell. Some children do not tell because the pedophile has convinced them that the activities between them is their “little secret” and some do not tell because of the relationship or bond the pedophile holds with the person they would tell. Allaboutcounseling.com states that, “mothers have conflicting allegiances; they love their children and their mate. It’s hard to believe that someone they love could commit such a monstrous act, particularly on their own child. It can become very traumatic and chaotic to families dealing with this issue.” However, this is disheartening and too much of a burden for a young person to carry. This is also an emotional devastation to the victim since they are one who will recall horrific thoughts throughout their lifetime.

Some adults are in denial: “This would not happen to my child.” Because they are na├»ve and innocent, any young person is vulnerable to sexual abuse. Some victims are in denial: “This is not what is happening to me. We love each other.” Any sexual relationship between an adult and a child is not an act of love, but of lust. Usually, victims from dysfunctional families or victims who have a poor relationship with their parents are those who seek “love” in the wrong places. This “love” could commonly be formed between a victim and their pedophile.

My advice to sexual abuse victims is to tell, know that the abuse is not your fault and believe in being victorious in spite of catastrophe. First, Allaboutcounseling.com reminds victims that “a late report is earlier than never.” Even if the person you tell is school friend, who would in turn probably have no clue what to do for you, tell somebody. Relief is found when you get problematic circumstances off of your chest. In addition, you never know who would be willing to help if you do not say something to someone. Second, do not allow yourself to believe that you can control an adult’ actions. An adult is supposed to train or teach you, not vice versa. Not one ounce of the sexual abuse could have been caused or initiated by you. If you were seeking for love and accepted the abuse, you are still not at fault. The “adult” should have shown you a different version of “love”. Finally, it is very easy to become discouraged and depressed as a victim of sexual abuse. However, you must realize that you can still become a lawyer for one of the nation’s largest law firms, like Cupcake Brown, or simply a teacher, like me, who can help influence other youth who may be encountering similar situations. Do not give up on yourself because of the dirty mind of your attacker.

My advice to parents of sexual abuse victims is to always be a support to your child, which would equate to never allowing a door to be closed to communication, and investigate any accusations. “Often times, long term trauma results not from the abuse itself, but from the lack of support, belief or attention to pain. This can intensify or prolong trauma from abuse” (Allaboutcounseling.com). First, a parent can close the door to communication by dishing out constant verbal abuse to a child or by simply keeping their bedroom door closed, which would not enable the child to feel free to come to the parent. By being a support, your child will not be afraid to approach you. The child will be more likely not to discuss any private matters with if you are constantly showing disgust or anger with your child. This is not only important because of sexual abuse, but also in cases where your child may encounter other dangerous situations, for examples, smoking, drugs, gangs, or the loss of virginity. The support of a parent will embrace an even closer relationship with the child when the child becomes an adult. Second, it does not matter if you believe you have birthed the child who cried wolf, if your child, whom you love, comes to you and says someone inappropriately touched them, investigate. Initially, if you have doubts, do not show the child, but rather show care, concern and love. Privately investigate if you are not sure. You will be satisfied to know that you found out for yourself after being told instead of being tormented for years with the thought, “what if it did happen?”

Reference:
All About Counseling. [Online], (1998) Available:
http://www.allaboutcounseling.com (July 18, 2006)

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