THERE seems at times to be mixed feelings on whether a crime falls into the bracket of child sexual abuse/molestation.
We query whether the child was too sexual or seductive, whether she/he played a part in the crime committed against them. We question whether the perpetrator should be punished. “It could have been a one-time thing,” we say. “He will not do it again, let’s not ruin his life.”
Although, we never mention how the life of the child has been irrevocably changed.
We don’t dwell on how he/she has been affected, how this has changed how they feel about themselves and everyone in their lives.
Rarely do we have the child’s best interest solely at heart, we consider ourselves, the abuser and society before the betterment of the child.
Let’s examine some facts about child sexual abuse:
(1)FALSITY: “Childhood sexual abuse involves intercourse with a child by an adult. It is not child sexual abuse is there is no penetration”. TRUTH: “Many forms of sexual abuse don’t involve intercourse or any form of penetration.
(2)FALSITY: “Adult’s need to teach children about sex so they grow up to be good lovers.” TRUTH: “Children who are sexually abused, grow up to be adults who suffer from many problems.”
(3)FALSITY: “Most child molesters are strangers.” TRUTH: “The majority of abusers are relatives, most notably stepfathers, fathers, uncles, brothers & grandfathers.” They are more likely to be abused by someone they know and trust, someone close to them, someone their parents trust, someone they believe would not hurt or betray them.
(4)FALSITY: “A father who loses control and molests his daughter is not as bad as the child molester who goes around stalking children.” TRUTH: “The incest (sexual abuse by a family member) offender is often just a child molester who stays home.”
(5)FALSITY: “Just because a man makes a mistake and molests one child doesn’t mean he will do it again with other children.” TRUTH: Rare is the offender who molests once and then stops.” Molesting a child, abusing a child is never done due to a mistake, there is usually a conscious decision to molest/abuse.
(6) FALSITY: “There is no such thing as a true victim. The child has some responsibility in the situation.” TRUTH: “The child is totally innocent & has absolutely no responsibility for the sexual abuse.” It is difficult to understand how a child can be blamed for being abused. How can we insinuate that a child in some way convinced/enticed/seduced an adult and therefore bares some of the responsibility in their assault.
(7) FALSITY: “ The child could have stopped it at anytime.” TRUTH: “There is no way a child can stop an adult from doing what he/she wants with her.” If we think about this statement we will know that it makes very little sense. We teach our children to listen and obey adults, not to question those in authority. Their abuser would have told them that no one will believe them. If we are honest with ourselves, children are very often unable to stop the abuse. To make a statement saying that they are is to make the culpable in the crime committed against them.
(8) FALSITY: “All the child had to do to stop it was to tell someone.” TRUTH: “A child is too afraid to tell.” The abuser scares the child, he/she tells them he will hurt them or their family If they tell. He tells them that no one will help or believe them. The abuser makes the prospect of telling near impossible, he renders his victims speechless with threats and scenarios of what if. We don’t make it any easier, they come forward, finally finding the strength to tell us and we question whether they misunderstood instead of believing them and supporting them.
(9) FALSITY: “Some of these victims were old enough to know better. In these cases it is not sexual abuse.” TRUTH: It is considered childhood sexual abuse if the victim was coerced, deceived, threatened, bribed or intimidated. When sexual encounters are not based on mutual consent, they always constitute assault.” What is is to know better? What is old enough? At what point does it qualify to be regarded as sexual assault? Is it sexual assault if she/he is under 3, under 10, under 13, under 16, under 18, under 21, under 30, under 40, 50, 70, 80? I’m sure you get my point, we continuously grasp at straws to make it acceptable for the perpetrator. Her clothing, her age, her sexual education, her seductive skills, her job, her relationship with the perpetrator. No individual walks around asking to be assaulted, it happens before we are able to process what just happened. It is ridiculous that we expect the victim to know better, but the perpetrator is excused for his ignorance regardless of the situation.
(All myths taken from “The Right to Innocence: Healing the Trauma of Childhood Sexual Abuse by Beverly Engel.”
I chose the 9 myths above as they appears to be the most widely used excuses for justifying or excusing the behaviors of child molesters, child abusers, pedophiles and rapists.The truth is there is no excuse or justification for the defilement of a child, whether the child is related to the individual or not. We, as a society, are not aware of the ramifications of this sort of trauma on a child. We expect that they will get over it as time passes, but the truth is that this isn’t something that one gets over without the proper help, help that is severely lacking in our country. Our children are being used, abused, sold, raped, tortured and treated like nonentities. How do we continuously forsake those who depend on us for their protection, care and love? We justify it based on our needs, we blame them and insinuate they caused the sexual abuse, and then we ask them to not only be silent about the abuse but to be around their abuser, to forgive their abuser, we tell them they probably misunderstood what happened, we tell them the abuser didn’t mean it and it will never happen again, Until it does. We ask them to get re-victimized by us and re-raped by their abusers who now knows you will do nothing to protect your child. Child Sexual Abuse isn’t a crime to be taken lightly, it isn’t something that disappears and gets better with time for the victim. On the contrary it gets worse with time. Child Sexual Abuse weaves into the very fabric of the child; it tells her/him that she isn’t worthy, that she/he isn’t beautiful, that she/he is a receptacle, that they are not worthy of your love and protection. It tell them they should be ashamed of the abuse they suffered, it tells them that they should feel guilty because they are to blame and as a result should be silent. Child Sexual Abuse leaves them feeling small and insignificant. Please do you part to help stop child abuse. Don’t let abusers continue to go free, get the justice your children deserve. Stop another child from being abused because you turn in abusers not because you let them go. Please BELIEVE YOUR CHILDREN, STAND WITH THEM AND FOR THEM. HELP STOP CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE.
We are asking that you join us in demanding that Sexual Violence be taken more seriously by our governmental leaders and those in positions dealing directly with victims/survivors of Sexual Violence. Demand and hold them accountable. But also, hold yourself accountable for your lack of action, for your belief that by sitting back someone else will do it. We rally together for many things, let this be one. There is power in numbers. Don’t let Sexual Violence continue to break the youth and destroy our women. Survivors of sexual assault need a supportive environment to begin the healing process. They need to believe and feel that they are part of a culture that doesn’t support individuals who commit sexual crimes. We have to be the difference we want to see in our country. We have to be willing to start to make change. We, at PROSAF, have acknowledged that violence against women is a problem in St.Lucia and the wider Caribbean. We are here to begin the metamorphosis that is desperately needed. We are always here to listen and if you are not ready to come forward but need a listening ear, feel free to contact us. Remember that Sexual assault is something that happens to people, it does not define them, it is something that was done to them. Survivors, Victims, Thrivers remember you are a strong, beautiful, intelligent woman/child/man who has suffered a trauma through no fault of your own. You are not guilty of any crime, something was done to you against your will Sexual Assault is something that happened to you, it does not define you. You are worthy of love and happiness. Always remember that you are not alone, that you have nothing to be ashamed of. We are taking the baby steps necessary to make it better for all. KNOW YOU HAVE A SAFE SPACE IN PROSAF. If you are interested in finding out more information about sexual violence and what you can do as part of this community, please feel free to contact us at:
Souyenne Dathorne, Velika Lawrence
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com
Facebook: SURVIVING SEXUAL ABUSE IN THE CARIBBEAN: https://www.facebook.com/pages/PROSAF-Surviving-Sexual-Abuse-in-the-Caribbean/165341356853908
Webpage: http://www.prosaf.org (under construction)
Telephone: 1-758-724-9991(sue) 1-758-723-6466(vel)