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.)