Let The Child Speak


I want you to imagine me sitting with you.   Across from you.  Speaking softly.  Intensely.  Passionately.  I speak softly trying to control my emotions.  But the truth is – it is a tremendous strain.  I want you to listen.  To hear me.    I’ll try to be careful with my words.  But I will say that my position regarding a child being sexually abused is extremely biased.  It’s the position I am in because I was put there.

This isn’t  about the headlines.

It’s about the story.

We read them.  We judge.  We assume.  We read  into things that are hinted at.  Or not said which makes them seem all the louder.

Someone is claiming to have been sexually abused as a child.

It’s only a headline because a famous person is involved.  Otherwise you don’t see headlines about a child having been sexually abused.  Unless it includes circumstances that make for a powerhouse news selling story.  The take down of a university’s football program, someone politically attached, or enough murders to make it a horrifying event.  You see the headlines when it’s the kind of story that makes people turn on the television, or search the internet for more information.  More lurid details.

One detail you should know, even without the headlines, every child who is sexually abused has a horrifying event.

And as far as lurid details go?  It happens.  Isn’t that enough to know?

From my biased position I would say to anyone speaking up and out about being sexually abused as a child- I applaud your courage.  It may be an actual child speaking out.  It may be an adult speaking out in regards to when they were a child.  My stance on this is that the child needs heard.  They need to feel safe in saying what happened.  They need to express their fears both past and present.

It is then the responsibility of parents, law enforcement and the proper authorities to complete the investigation and take care of the child.

Not the general public.

Not the press.

Not the story hounds.

Not even those who can relate to the child because of similar situations.

For all of us ‘hearing’ of a story of abuse it is not our place to dissect the child’s story.  If you hear a story from a child and you say “but….” or “I can’t believe it!” or “it doesn’t make sense” or “not him/her” or “how could this have happened?”   All the child hears is you don’t believe them.

If you are hearing a story seventeen people removed from the original telling of the story.  Or you are reading a story written for the masses.   Then you are hearing more than facts.  You are hearing spins and perceptions and judgments.   Unless you are the child, or the abuser, you don’t know the story.  We hear a  story and we judge.  I put myself in that ‘we’ category.  I can’t deny it.  I apply my bias.   And I always believe the child.

For anyone who can’t believe that abuse happens and no one else sees it.  It does, indeed, happen.  I grew up in a very large family.  Neither of my parents, or any of my siblings, or any of my extended family, or any of my friends saw or knew anything.

And there is a reason for this.

People who sexually abuse children are masters.  Masters of deception.  Masters of fear.  Masters of control.  Masters of masking a horribly ugly existence.   They are masters of disguise.  And masters of trickery.

You don’t believe that the person you know, or that person you read about, could possibly have hurt a child in that way.  Look at all they have….. insert example of how wonderful this individual is.

I promise you that to a child being sexually abused -that person is a monster.  A monster who lurks in the trust of their parents.  A monster who hides behind the facade of generosity and kindness, respectability.   A monster who comes out in the daylight, the night time, and in that child’s dreams.  No place or time is safe.  Monsters get in to your thoughts and torment from within.  A monster who pats the child’s head affectionately in the eyes of the world, is the same monster who touches that child and scars them forever.  When no one is looking.

These masters.  These monsters.   They don’t want you to see.  Get it?














So a story is told.

And questions abound.



In our world of instant headlines.  Competition to get the scoop.  A world’s belief that they have the right to know everything.  You will seldom know everything about a child being sexually abused.  In our country (America) an accused person is innocent until proven guilty.    I get that.

But why are we so eager to discredit a child’s story of sexual abuse?  I have been to trainings.  I have dealt with counselors on personal and professional levels both.  What I know from my above average knowledge (albeit from a layman’s understanding of it)  about children reporting being sexually abused is that it is rare for a child to lie about it.

If I had the ear of the world I would ask a few things.

1.   Let a child speak.

2.   Let the proper authorities follow up.

3.   Suspend your judgment.

4.   Believe that every single child has a right to not be sexually abused.

5.   Learn/educate yourself on why a child may not speak out until they are an adult.

6.   Stop making excuses for child abuse.

7.   Stop trying to make sense of it.

8.   Please, please, please make sure your child is safe and knows knows knows that if anyone ever touches them inappropriately you will believe them, protect them, and love them.

9.    Stop hating the child who had courage to speak.  Even if they had to wait until they were an adult.

10. Understand that this hideousness happens.  Every.  Damn.  Day.

I may be speaking softly.   But I want to scream.  I want to demand.  I want people to hear.  When a child speaks up.


(Please understand I am appalled by abuse of all kinds.  This is something I can speak specifically to and about.)

75 thoughts on “Let The Child Speak

  1. Worthy, indeed, of screaming. We must also keep in mind that there are other forms of cruelty and abuse, many of which go unacknowledged. Addressing these is not a complex task. It only takes awareness, values (to which we are committed and live), choice, and action. And it doesn’t need to be magnanimous deeds. Small actions, cumulatively, yield desired outcomes.


    • Thank you Eric. This usually gets a scream out of me (at least mentally). I work in a protective service and see abuse of all kinds, against all ages, both genders, and have discovered abuse it’s self is very diverse. And I didn’t want others to think I’m only appalled by sex abuse (that’s why my little footer at the bottom). Your statement “It only takes awareness, values (to which we are committed and live), choice, and action” is so incredibly accurate and spot on. Why is it something so clear is so difficult for this world?


  2. I had to hold back the tears reading this. It’s very powerful. In regards to Woody Allen, he married his adopted daughter, how much more obvious could it be that he’s an abuser. He probably groomed/brainwashed and abused her too.

    I wish this world would leave primitive mindsets behind and wake up to 2014.


    • There’s a part of me that understands people who cannot envision the actual act of sexually abusing a child. It’s NOT something they would ever contemplate. We have this talk at work sometimes. People who would not ever contemplate doing an evil ‘act’ may not be able to easily accept that others would ‘do’ that act. So they question. Some to try and understand, some to NOT understand. It’s beyond comprehension for some. For me, it’s difficult to KNOW these horrors exist and watch as others try to explain it away.


  3. Amen, my friend. Thank you so much for addressing this in such detail. I suspect I know what story in the press you might be referring to–even though I am not in the US to hear all of the debating going on. Thank you for standing up for all of the children who don’t have the protection they need. I applaud you.

    Hugs from Ecuador,


    • Thank you Kathy. It does the world no harm to let a child speak and let them get the help they need. I’m astounded at those who create stories from this that purposefully detract from what is needed. Healing. Help. Action.

      Hugs returned. Always.


  4. Having once been the child unheard, I loved reading this. I am now 52 years old. To this day, my abuser has not been held accountable and never will. There is always an excuse to brush away the fact that he is a pedophile. I’m the pariah of my family for not keeping the secret. And yet, I am ready to tell the secret again and again…until someone hears the child.


    • Mary, I applaud your courage. Courage. Courage. To face it. To speak it. And to know that YOU are not problem. You did nothing wrong. YOU are on your mountain top. I hope you have support. And I hear you.


  5. I applaud you for writing this. You did so, with immense sincerity, compassion and tact. This is an article (not simply a post) for the front pages. An article that should be posted and seen by many. You have spoken absolute truth here. A child’s story deserves to be heard. Once heard, they do not deserve to have their story exploited by the press or the general public. These children need the help of others. The last thing they need is for their story to be belittled by the media or by an uninformed audience. Excellent and much needed post!


  6. Reblogged this on both sides of the wall and commented:
    i cou;dn’t have said it better. And I will always believe the child regardless of my relationship to the adult. Even working in group homes and with kids that have been disproven in their accusations, I will always believe the child first…


  7. Thank you for your post. I am one of the adult children that is finally learning how to release the damage of my childhood. I am doing it one day at a time, one memory at a time, but I am speaking up now. Thank you for being a voice and for the quiet screaming that you are doing.


    • Charlene you are welcome. I hope you have someone who listens. I have said, and will say it forever, what someone did to me is NOT who I am. I am neither broken or need pitied. Good for you for releasing it. You are NOT what someone else did to you. That is for YOU to decide and be. I applaud you. And send you hope.


      • I do, I have a great group I am involved in called Celebrate Recovery, and it is a great big mix of things that we are recovering from. I have told a little to my husband, but the more he learns the angrier he gets. He wants to fix things, it is in his nature to try to make it better, but this is something that he had no control over. So after 27 years together I have learned how much I can tell him and how much I can’t so I don’t push his how do I make it better buttons.


        • I admire those who believe, love, support and have ‘want to make it better’ buttons. It’s very hard for us to hear about loved ones being hurt. I’m impressed with the sounds of your group. Good for you, and all of you who are taking control of feeling good and recovering.


  8. This with child abuse is so disturbing – and it does it even more real – this is there all around us. Thanks for bringing it up and for the advices. There is more than one way a child can be abused, but whatever way .. it has to be dealt with.


  9. Dude, very intense post today and I was gonna comment on it but then I noticed something….. you changed your header photo! weren’t you staying anonymous or have you changed your mind about that?


    • CultureMonk, thanks for stopping in. I have had the same banner for years. I think mayhaps you’ve mixed me up with someone else. 😉 But I have seen you around your coffee shops 🙂


  10. Amen Colleen!!! I agree with Mewhoami that this should be published on the front page of national publications!! We think we are a civilized society yet this goes on and people do not want to acknowledge it. I have helped people who have been abused and seen how much they have been hurt. It makes it worse when people will not believe you, especially because as children we are supposed to be able to trust adults. Thank you for your soft screaming my friend:)


    • Thank you Mary. I appreciate you and MeWhoAmI thinking this has such value and quality. I think the more of us who listen to the child(ren) the more likely we are to make changes. I do think this “scares” many people to contemplate the depth of it. But that contemplating and addressing it is not a fraction as fearful as what the child is going through.


  11. I just learned of another myself…it is as you said, exactly, scary how exact it is. Processing it all, and rereading this to keep what you said in mind. Even though this was long ago, it is still very much there. Wel written, well said, Colleen. Thank you.


    • You’re welcome Niaaeryn. It’s true about the fear. It can never be ‘undone’. And I’ll say, that it is as horrible to find out about a friend or loved one and not know how to help.


  12. When a child is sexually abused a normal life is taken away from her, he/she will forever carry that fear, think about it every now and then even if it happened many years ago. Great post Colleen.


  13. My heart hurts for any child that was left to feel like this. It is NOT okay for anyone to express ANY type of disbelief on ANY claim of abuse. You are one of the most courageous women I know. It took courage to even write this. Not just for yourself but for so many more! I love you.


    • MSampson. I love your support. 🙂 And your belief in me. I’m not so courageous as I am educated and aware of this. Though I love everyone believing me to be courageous, I felt I was, more so, as a child. And to all of those children right now having to wake up every day to this kind of horror.

      I love you too.


  14. Colleen, What a wonderfully well written post. Since the eariest stages of our friendship you have spoken in a whispered voice of what befell you as a child. The couraged you have displayed is unmeasurable. The words you offered today are a lesson to all of us, and each of must take them to heart. Child abuse (sexual or otherwise) has no place. The 10 simple questions/statements are the perfect starting point, and those of us not smart enough realize this need to have them stapled to our foreheads. Thank you for your courage, your determination, and the guys to speak up and out. Take care, Bill


    • Thank you Bill. For all that you said. And for all of your support. Sometimes none of us know what to say or do. And sometimes, we need to not say anything at all. I remember, as a supervisor I was called in when a juvenile had threatened to hit a staff person. Out of curiosity I asked the staff person if he “felt” threatened. He looked at me and said “if that’s what you’re going to ask me there’s no point to pursuing this”. I was stunned. I was asking as a curiosity to see how he felt. But it taught me a valuable lesson. When someone expresses that they have been hurt/threatened we have to accept that.

      As always Bill, thank you for believing me.


  15. Excellent post. Why is it that when children report anything to health care providers a parent (abuser) is capable of “charming” the health care professional into dismissing the child’s claims and accepting what the parent says. Who’s protecting these children when these adults continue to wreck havoc in this child even as an adult until the perpetrator is deceased because they fear being discovered so they continue to place blame on the child.

    These “abusers” will tell others that the child/person “makes things up”, “tells stories”, is not “reliable”, and they continue to interfere with this child well into their adulthood and can cause interference with their healthcare that can have permanent disability and even death because proper action and treatment is not taken because these healthcare professionals are too busy listening to the “manipulators, charming, abusers”. Take care and stay safe.


  16. I feel like crying upon reading your message 😭 I can relate with your post. Thank you for being an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your courage! You may not know me personally.. but I’ll tell you that you are loved! And your posts are so helpful and meaningful! Thank you chatter master! 😙 Hugs 🤗


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