Posted by: CeCe | April 28, 2012

Suffering in silence

I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve been able to update this (it’s been a week, but it seems like a lifetime), and I’ve been dying to do so.  I just haven’t had time.  I have a couple posts in the works, but for right now, I wanted to address something that’s very important to me (what else is new, right?).  Last night, a friend that I know through debating on Facebook posted a link to a news article about a man who was convicted of sexually abusing his grandniece for several years.  She was brave enough to admit that the girl in the story was her, and she had stood in court and faced the man who had so hurt her.

Her bravery got me thinking about how, in spite of all the progress we’ve made in addressing victims’ rights, there are still people who suffer in silence after being subjected to abuse at the hands of sadistic monsters.  No, not just people.   Children.  Being a victim of sexual abuse is hard enough as an adult; it’s even worse when your childhood innocence is betrayed by someone you should have been able to trust and you are made to feel as though you should be ashamed because it was somehow your fault.

I was one of those children for a long time, who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of someone that I should have been able to trust, who feared to admit it aloud for the fact that even when I was a child and a teenager (which wasn’t that long ago, not really), there was still a stigma attached to children who were sexually abused.  There was still the attitude that I had something of which I needed to be ashamed, that something was wrong with me that that monster decided to steal my innocence.  It was years before I could even admit what happened to any family members, and even then, the words did not come willingly.

My case is only one of thousands, if not millions.  Statistics estimate that 1 in 4 American females have been sexually abused, while nearly 1 in 10 American males have been sexually abused (7.5%).  The number could be higher due to under-reporting, especially in the case of men who have been sexually abused since they are even more stigmatized than females.

I guess what I’m wondering is how long it’s going to be before we stop blaming the victim.  I don’t understand why even in our modern society, with all the progress we’ve made in eradicating racism and sexism, people who are sexually abused are still often treated as though they did something to deserve what happened to them.  Only in the case of sexual crimes is the victim ever blamed.  Why is this?  If a person is robbed at gunpoint, do we say that oh, it was obviously the victim’s fault for carrying something of value?  How about if someone is murdered, is it their fault for being in the wrong place at the wrong time?  No?  Then why would we blame the victim in the case of sexual abuse?  It makes no sense.  What, because it’s sexual it ceases to be the fault of the perpetrator?  To me, that makes it an even more abhorrent crime, because sex and sexual caressing is supposed to be something shared willingly between people who care for each other, not a weapon to be violently inflicted on a child or someone else who can’t defend themselves.

I also wonder why, when children are abused by anyone, some people are still hesitant to believe them and so quick to rush to judgment.  I understand that some children choose to make up stories of abuse for attention, but how often does this actually happen?  Hardly ever.  I would rather believe 100 children and it turn out that 10 of them were lying, than not believe them and find out that 90 of them were telling the truth.

We so badly need to stop discouraging those who have been sexually abused from being vocal about it.  We need to stop blaming the victim.  When someone confesses to having been sexually abused, no matter what the situation, we need to envelop them in love and support immediately.  We need to pound it in their heads that it is not their fault, that it’s the fault of the sick person that would do such things to someone, and that they’ll be okay.

If you’ve been sexually abused, and you’re reading this, please know that you’re not alone, it’s not your fault, and there is nothing in the world that would make it so that you deserve what happened to you.  If you have been suffering from anxiety or PTSD from it, please consider contacting your local sexual assault center; they may be able to refer you to a place where you can receive affordable counseling.  Don’t suffer in silence.

Source:
http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/global-prevalence-child-sexual-abuse/

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Responses

  1. I wish I had an answer for you. I often wonder why we are so far behind in so many areas considering how far as a society we have come. I think part of the problem is that we are a society where it’s okay for men to have their sexual “conquests” while women are still “sluts” for the same behavior. If we can help eradicate this stigma, we might get somewhere with the problem of blaming the victim as well. Of course, women can also be the abusers, but it’s so rare and they aren’t held up by their peers as having “conquered” anything at all–they are pretty much censured by everyone, whereas male abusers are seen by many as heroes.

    Basically, it comes down to control. Most serial rapists admit to being less interested in the sex and more interested in being in control. It’s a way of over-compensating for a feeling of lack of control in their lives otherwise. And many abusers, as you probably know, were once abused themselves.

    If you haven’t read it, I recommend Alice Sebold’s Lucky. It’s a memoir about how she fought to make sure justice was served after she was raped. And she addresses much of what you’re talking about. Needless to say, there’s a bit of irony to the title. Her experience clearly inspired her novel Lovely Bones.

    I also think that the problem of sexual abuse, like many others, will improve if we dedicate more resources to mental health (instead of, say, even more to prisons). Rapist only learn how to be better rapists in prison; they hardly learn how to break the cycle of violence there. And maybe if we got potential abusers identified and treated while they’re still young (there are early behaviors typical of future sexual abusers), then they could find healthier ways to express themselves before they become societal pariahs.

    Sorry that you have had to suffer through this, but I commend you for addressing it so openly, so that more people can possibly understand and gain empathy for victims of sexual abuse.

    • Thank you so much for your amazing comment!
      I agree with everything you said.

  2. adelgazar I ought to say, as a great deal as I enjoyed reading what you had to say, I couldnt aid but shed interest right after a whilst. Its as in the event you had a wonderful grasp on the topic matter.

    • Thank you!

  3. […] of them had on me, such as my views on sexuality as well as my health, and how important it is to not be silent about it.  But I don’t want to talk about that, no.  I’ve talked about that too much […]


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