Childhood sexual abuse, is the “hush-hush” crime. Most who go through it are scared to death to tell anyone out of fear of not being believed, or fearing their molester so bad that they just keep quiet. My experience was no different.
I was 10 years old when my brother started playing this “tickle” game with me. It started out with you tickle my foot and I’ll tickle yours, then it advanced to tickling other things. I was mortified the first time it happened. My brother was 8 years older than me and I was the only adopted child in the family, so I think he justified it due to this. (not being his REAL sister). I know my mom must have known but my brother was her FAVORITE and he could do no wrong, so I was really confused. Do I tell my mom and have her hate me because I said something bad about her baby, or do I keep doing it to get her approval.
I remember when it started happening, I became so frightened when my parents would leave the house and I was left there with him and my sisters, I started banging on the screen door once screaming for them not to go, I banged so hard my hand went through a glass door. Don’t you think my mom should have realized something??? All of a sudden I start going nuts anytime she leaves the house. But she never said anything when he did other cruel acts to me. Once he called me out to the garage and had my bunny hanging upside down in his hands and then he hit it over and over again on the head and killed it, and we ATE IT THAT NIGHT FOR DINNER. I truly thought it was chicken then my brother blurted out it was my bunny, I ran from the table and threw up. My brother never had intercourse with me until he knew for sure that I had already experienced it at age 13. I won’t say too much because this is in my book, but I will summarize it by saying at age 15 I emancipated myself from my family and got married, so I could escape the house where my hell was being played out. I couldn’t believe my mom and dad let me go so easily, but they did.
Now I know I’m not the only one who has been abused but I wanted to share my story so you know it’s OK TO TALK ABOUT IT! There are places to go for help, there is counseling for those who have been through it, you don’t have to KEEP QUIET ANY LONGER!!!
I beg you all to get the help you need and for the rest of you to LISTEN when someone is trying to tell you of an incident like this. Most of us feel uncomfortable when someone starts telling us something like this and we are unsure of what to do, so I will give you some resources. Also some behaviors to look for that might indicate someone is being molested.
Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent
- Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
- Seems distracted or distant at odd times
- Has a sudden change in eating habits
- Refuses to eat
- Loses or drastically increases appetite
- Has trouble swallowing.
- Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
- Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
- Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
- Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
- Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
- Talks about a new older friend
- Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
- Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
- Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge
Signs more typical of younger children
- An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
- Has new words for private body parts
- Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
- Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
- Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
- Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training
Signs more typical in adolescents
- Self-injury (cutting, burning)
- Inadequate personal hygiene
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Sexual promiscuity
- Running away from home
- Depression, anxiety
- Suicide attempts
- Fear of intimacy or closeness
- Compulsive eating or dieting
Physical warning signs
Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare. If you see these signs, bring your child to a doctor. Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.
- Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
- Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
- Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training
WHAT TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN TO PREVENT THIS FROM HAPPENING
- The typical advice “Don’t Talk to Strangers” doesn’t apply in this case. Most sexual perpetrators are known to their victims.
- Do not instruct children to give relatives hugs and kisses. Let them express affection on their own terms.
- Teach your children basic sexual education. Teach them that no one should touch the “private” parts of their body. A health professional can also help to communicate sex education to children if parents are uncomfortable doing so.
- Develop strong communication skills with your children. Encourage them to ask questions and talk about their experiences. Explain the importance of reporting abuse to you or another trusted adult.
- Teach your children that sexual advances from adults are wrong and against the law. Give them the confidence to assert themselves against any adult who attempts to abuse them.
- Make an effort to know children’s friends and their families.
- Instruct your child to never get into a car with anyone without your permission.
- Teach your children that their bodies are their own. That it is OK to say they do not want a hug or that certain kinds of contact make them uncomfortable.
- It is important to remember that physical force is often not necessary to engage a child in sexual activity. Children are trusting and dependent and will often do what is asked of them to gain approval and love.
What to do if you think a child you know has been the victim of sexual abuse
- Give the child a safe environment in which to talk to you or another trusted adult. Encourage the child to talk about what he or she has experienced, but be careful to not suggest events to him or her that may not have happened. Guard against displaying emotions that would influence the child’s telling of the information.
- Reassure the child that he or she did nothing wrong.
- Seek mental health assistance for the child.
- Arrange for a medical examination for the child. Select a medical provider who has experience in examining children and identifying sexual and physical trauma. It may be necessary to explain to the child the difference between a medical examination and the abuse incident.
- Be aware that many states have laws requiring that persons who know or have a reason to suspect that a child has been sexually abused must report that abuse to either local law enforcement officials or child protection officials. In all 50 states, medical personnel, mental health professionals, teachers, and law enforcement personnel are required by law to report suspected abuse
Where to go for help
Several organizations can provide information and advice about child sexual abuse, including: BUT REMEMBER IF YOU SUSPECT IT, IMMEDIATELY GET THE CHILD TO A HOSPITAL FOR EXAMINATION AND NOTIFY POLICE PERSONNEL IF NECESSARY. BUT GET THE CHILD OUT OF IMMINENT DANGER!!!!! ALSO THERE IS A HELPLINE Helpline 1.888.PREVENT
American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children 407 South Dearborn Suite 1300 Chicago, IL 60605 (312) 554-0166 http://www.apsac.org/
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children Charles B. Wang International Children’s Building 699 Prince Street Alexandria, VA 22314-3175 24 hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST http://www.missingkids.com/
Child Help USA 15757 North 78th Street Scottsdale, AZ 85260 (800) 4-A-CHILD http://www.childhelpusa.org/
Prevent Child Abuse America 332 S. Michigan Ave Suite 1600 Chicago, IL 60604-4357 (800) CHILDREN http://www.preventchildabuse.org/index.shtml
Child Welfare Information Gateway (formerly National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information) Children’s Bureau/ACYF 1250 Maryland Avenue, SW Eighth Floor Washington, DC 20024 (800) 394-3366 http://www.childwelfare.gov/
Also remember that most childhood sexual abuse survivors suffer from PTSD later in life, so it’s very important to get into counseling to “get control”. I hate using the word RESOLVE, because personally I don’t think issues can be RESOLVED, I think they can only be MANAGED. Thank you, Lori
I hope this gives some insight to this epidemic. It is too bad we live in a world where I would even THINK of writing a post like this, but the sad truth is WE DO, and we have to protect our children. Thanks, Lori