“We cannot change what we do not understand”
What is Child Sexual Abuse?
- Any sexual act between an adult and a minor or between two minors when one exerts power over the other.
- Forcing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. Besides sexual contact, it also includes non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or internet.
- The act maybe for the sexual gratification of the perpetrator or third party, all of this is harmful to children.
- An agonizing and traumatic experience for its victims
- A crime punishable by law
Why children don’t reveal?
Many times children won’t reveal about the sexual abuse they suffered until they become an adult themselves. There are several reasons why they find it difficult to disclose to anyone that they are being abused, whether by an adult or by another child. Some of the reasons are identified below:
- Children may be confused because the lines between right and wrong are blurred. They may lack knowledge about their bodies and personal boundaries. They may not understand that the behavior is inappropriate or harmful
- Children have not been taught that the abuse is not okay
- Children may have promised the offender that they would keep a secret
- Children may become paralyzed with fear because the abuser is threatening the child, threatening to take the life of loved ones, and / or threatening to break up the family
- Children have been taught to obey adults
- Children feel ashamed, guilty or embarrassed as a result of public humiliation
- Children don’t know the words to use to tell
- Children feel that they will be blamed or not believed
- Children feel obligated because they have been bribed or enticed by generous gifts and misplaced love and affection from their abuser
- Many times a child depends on the adult in some way, this could be for care, nurturing, shelter or education. The child could be in jeopardy by resisting the adults wishes
Why do most Child Sexual Abuse cases go un-reported?
88% of abuse is never reported for some of the following reasons:
- Victims and / or their family members don’t want a very private matter made public especially in a small community as ours.
- Victims and / or their family do not have confidence or trust that the judicial system will serve them
- The victim and / or family have been bullied by the threat and intimidation of physical violence
- The victim’s family will not report because of loss of financial support and a significant change in quality of life
- Often times the parent or guardian has been abused themselves and never revealed
- The parent selfishly choses the abuser over the child
***A child is more likely to reveal sexual abuse if offended by a non-family member, and if sexually abused by a family member the probability of revealing is slim to none.
Who abuses children?
Those that molest children look and act just like everyone else. They are drawn to settings where they can gain access to our children such as sport leagues, clubs, schools, and/or faith- based centers. Abusers can be neighbors, friends or family members. According to the Darkness to Light organization:
- 39% of offenders are family members (Snyder, 2000)
- 56% of offenders are acquaintances of the child or family – (such as friends of the family, a babysitter, neighbors) (Snyder, 2000)
- ONLY 5% of offenders are strangers (Snyder, 2000)
What are some characteristics of a Child Molester?
- Child molesters groom victims and their families
- Child molesters are manipulative
- Child molesters seduce their victims
- Child Molesters choose to set children up through secrecy, manipulation and fear
- Child molesters look & act like everyone else
- Child molesters can be well liked, respected and best at what they do
- Child molesters are as sick as their secrets
- Child molesters are controlling
- Most child molesters deny their actions or minimize it’s seriousness
- A determined child molester will take their time to gain trust. This can be do through seduction with back rubs, foot rubs, gift giving etc., which leads to a bond
- If a child says NO sternly to any advances or gestures from a molester, which is typically at the beginning stages of grooming, then it’s more likely a child molester will move on (Unfortunately, to another child)
- What types of children are molesters more likely to target? The vulnerable and pleasing child, the child who feels lonely and neglected, the child who lacks confidence, or a child who is angry as a result of emotional issues arising from a death in the family, a divorce, fights with their parents or guardians, etc.
- For a child molester it is not always about the act itself; it’s about how it makes them feel – powerful
- What’s been found in recent research is an overwhelming majority of people guilty of child molesting, were molested themselves
How can a victim begin the healing process?
- REVEAL THE SECRET
- The child must be told that he or she IS NOT TO BLAME
- Let the child know that you will do everything you can to keep the child safe
- Offer praise to the child for the courage it took to reveal the secret
- Sexual Abuse against children is against the law. Report the abuse!
- Seek professional help for the child as soon as possible
- The abused child should see consequence and accountability bestowed on the perpetrator to begin the healing process
- Child victims and their families need time to recover from the trauma
- The healing process is a journey and it’s different for everyone
- The way a victim’s family responds to sexual abuse plays a crucial role in the victim’s recovery. A parent’s denial of child sexual abuse can sometimes be more abusive than the abuser. Don’t pretend it never happened.