Child sexual abuse is todays and tomorrows problem

DSC_0211Todays problem

Children are being sexually abused at alarming rates. While the world looks and points the finger at India, we fail to look at what’s happening in our own homes. One in three children is sexually abused and most of this abuse takes place in their own bed. Half of these children are abused by a parent, another staggering 30 percent by someone else in their family (older brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, grandparents, etc).

Child sexual abuse is not going to stop unless we stop looking away

Untill we start to realise and let it sink in that child sexual abuse is everywhere, is happening in your street, in your classroom, in your immediate circle of influence, we’re part of the problem.

Talk about child sexual abuse, esspecially if you are not a victim

Talking about child sexual abuse is going to help people come out about what has happened to them. Creating a society where we’re not afraid to tackle this tabu subject and bring what we think and feel about it out into the open will take concerted effort from everyone. In particular people who have not been abused as it is less difficult for them to talk about it.

Tomorrows problems

It’s not just the children we need to worry about and protect. Everyone who falls victim to child sexual abuse is at enormous risk of developing problems later on in life. As many as 50% of victims of child sexual abuse end up having serious mental health issues. The cumulative effect of child sexual abuse in combination with other problems in childhood is huge. You only need to look at the ACE study to know we can’t afford to ignore child sexual abuse happening now, to prevent problems in health care in the future.

The huge numbers of people who have been sexually abused

It may seem like there’s an explosion of sexual abuse at this moment, with big cases coming to light, it seems like every week. In terms of media attention, this is certainly the case. However, the hidden suffering is still many times greater than what these big cases imply. For every ‘Jimmy Saville’ who victimizes a large number of children, there’s at least 100 times as many children being victimized by someone within their family, and there has been for years. Earlier it was reported that possibly 11.000.000 English people have been a victim. The numbers are huge and the effects are devasting.

Helping people heal from child sexual abuse

My book helps people find a way to heal from child sexual abuse. It helps people who have been victimized to understand what they are dealing with in terms of the long term effects of child sexual abuse. It helps people who have not been a victim understand more about what the long term effects are and how they can help. We need all hands on deck for this one. We need to learn and educate ourselves and each other about child sexual abuse.

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

Have I been sexually abused?

gras2Have I been sexually abused?

Since I published my book, one of the most frequently asked questions in my e-mail is ‘Have I been sexually abused?’ or ‘Have I been molested?’ Quite often the answer is yes, but the reason people ask the question is very telling about the myths we still have about child sexual abuse. Just a few of the more common misperceptions:

‘I did not say no. Have I been sexually abused?’

As a child you are below the age of consent. This is so for a reason, the law protects children against adult sexuality. A child is all too easy to influence, dominate, manipulate or control. From a very early age children are taught that the adults have all the power and that they don’t have the right to say no to anything anyway. So not having said no doesn’t mean you weren’t sexually abused. It just means that you had no power in the situation and took the only option available to you: acquiescence. And yes, that means you’ve been sexually abused. In fact, this is the most common form of child sexual abuse there is. Most children don’t say no, don’t feel they have any other option. They feel trapped and unable to escape.

‘He did not go all the way, have I been sexually abused?’

Child sexual abuse is not limited to penetration. In fact, it can be very harmfull to a child to be looked at in a lurid manner. The essence of child sexual abuse is that you’re used for someone elses sexual gratification. This may include, but is not limited to, touching, fondling, taking pictures, having the child watch sexual activity (either live or on video/photo’s), sexchatting with a child (both live and online) and a myriad of other ways in which perpetrators get their jollies.

‘He was the same age as me. Have I been sexually abused?’

Strictly speaking, there is such a thing as ‘childs-play’, horsing around and discovering each others body. Was it? What makes you wonder if this was sexual abuse? Was there violence involved? Did he have undue influence on you? Did he threaten you in any way or make you keep quiet about it? In particular that last one, making you keep it a secret, is a red flag for child sexual abuse. If you’re just playing around, there’d be no harm in telling about it would there?

‘Others had it so much worse, does it even count as child sexual abuse?’

Oddly, variations of this question has been asked me by people who have suffered, in my mind anyway, horrendous child sexual abuse.

  • My brother the med-student examined my vagina with a speculum
  • My dad licked my ears in front of everybody
  • My aunt regularly sucked on my penis when I was 8.
  • I was made to ride on grandpa’s lap, rubbing against his chrotch.
  • I was ‘only’ raped a few times by my 25 year old boyfriend when I was 16.
  • He tried, but I was too small to be penetrated.
  • My mom showered with me till I was 16, frequently washing my penis.

If you have any doubt: all of these count as child sexual abuse and are very damaging to a child. In the case of child sexual abuse, ‘Who had it worse?’ is a mute question. The impact of child sexual abuse is huge, no matter how ‘small’ the infraction.

‘I have only vague memories. Have I been sexually abused?’

This is a difficult one. Quite often people ask me for advise on how to find out if they have indeed been sexually abused, thinking perhaps to get some hypnosis or regression therapy. I generally advise against using those therapies for this particular purpose because of the risk of creating false memories (these therapies can be very useful for healing child sexual abuse, but not for truth-finding). Whether you’ve been sexually abused can be much better accessed by jogging the memory. There are many ways of doing that, including going back to the places of your youth and having someone question you about your childhood in an open, exploring manner. Neutral questions about ‘Where did you sit at the dinnertable?’ or ‘What color was your favorite dress?’ can help you find back memories. Also, some of us may never know for sure. The trick then is to find a way to live with that and move beyond it. Healing is possible without knowing the details.

Questions to ask yourself if you think you’ve been sexually abused:

If you have taken a look at the self-test and find yourself thinking you’ve been abused, here’s some common sense questions that can help you think about it.

  • What makes you think you’ve been sexually abused?
  • Which circumstances in your past give rise to this possibility?
  • If you’ve been abused, at what age do you think it happened?
  • Do you have a possible perpetrator in mind?
  • Are there other possible explanations?

If you need help, please feel free to contact me. I offer online coaching and I specialize in helping people heal from child sexual abuse.

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com