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Today, a child is being sexually abused.  

Today, a child needs your help.

Eight suspected paedophiles arrested in North Wales as part of massive police operation

Texas man gets 25 years in day care abuse case

Claremont woman gets 25 years for sexually abusing toddlers

Two North Devon arrests during internet child abuse operation

Underage girls traded for food on remote British islands, according to leaked report

British police arrest 660 suspected pedophiles

Alleged Pittsfield child rapist may get 50 years

Headlines - every day they are filled with stories of child sexual abuse and pedophilia.  These stories aren't from the last month or week, these stories are from the last 2 hours.  And they will soon be replaced by other stories of child sexual abuse and pedophilia.  

Statistics


In the US, it is estimated that 1:4 girls and 1:6 boys are sexually abused by the age of 18.  

90% by someone they know

68% by a member of their own family



Statistics also show that most victims of childhood sexual abuse never tell...

So why do we struggle as a society to address this prolific issue?

For both the accused and the abused, the stigma of child sexual abuse is untenable.  It is a title that neither want, and once given, feel neither can escape -

PEDOPHILE


VICTIM

And for the surrounding families, there is tremendous collateral damage, particularly when the abuse is intrafamilial.  Sides are chosen - Lines are drawn -

Who do you believe?  

The Victim?

Or the (alleged) perpetrator?


Dr. Judith Herman writes, in her book, Trauma and Recovery:

"...when the traumatic events are of human design, those who bear witness are caught in the conflict between victim and perpetrator. It is morally impossible to remain neutral in this conflict.

         It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator. All the perpetrator asks is that the bystander do nothing. He appeals to the universal desire to see, hear, and speak no evil. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of the pain. The victim demands action, engagement, and remembering. . . .

         In order to escape accountability for his crimes, the perpetrator does everything in his power to promote forgetting. Secrecy and silence are the perpetrator's first line of defense. If secrecy fails, the perpetrator attacks the credibility of his victim. If he cannot silence her absolutely, he tries to make sure that no one listens. To this end, he marshals an impressive array of arguments, from the most blatant denial to the most sophisticated and elegant rationalization. After every atrocity one can expect to hear the same predictable apologies: it never happened; the victim lies; the victim exaggerates; the victim brought it on herself; and in any case it is time to forget the past and move on. The more powerful the perpetrator, the greater is his prerogative to name and define reality, and the more completely his arguments prevail.

         The perpetrator's arguments prove irresistible when the bystander faces them in isolation. Without a supportive social environment, the bystander usually succumbs to the temptation to look the other way."

Secrets/Silence


Child sexual abuse only exists in secrets and silence.  It is what pedophiles rely on.  They don't abuse children in the light of day, in public places, in plain sight.  There is typically...

No doctor's report


No DNA evidence


No witness


No contemporaneous reports


NO VERIFIABLE PROOF WHATSOEVER






"Pedophiles know they don't have to keep their victims quiet forever, just long enough to run out the clock"

If reported, it is the word of a [then] child versus the word of an adult.  

This raises the issue of credibility - in many cases, victims of child sexual abuse continue to abuse themselves through self-destructive behaviors (alcohol, drugs, illicit sex) that undermine their credibility if and when they decide to pursue legal action.  Victims/Survivors are also faced with statute of limitation issues, often not coming to terms with what happened to them as a kid until it's too late.  

Who would you believe?

How do I make them understand, I was a kid...you were a man...

Originally posted to TreeClimbers on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 07:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by House of LIGHTS.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for taking the time to read (16+ / 0-)

    While I don't pretend to have the answers, I know it is important to keep asking the questions.  And I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to walk down this path with me.

    It's not an easy topic.  But it is an important one.

    Sincerely,
    Roxine

    "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

    by Roxine on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 07:06:18 AM PDT

  •  Good to see you back here, Roxine (10+ / 0-)

    I hope all is well with Tree Climbers.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 07:53:38 AM PDT

  •  Important diary. (9+ / 0-)

    It reinforces the need to take seriously the word of victims.  Abusers are manipulative and they deny what they do.  That should surprise no one.

    Thank you for the diary.

    "It ain't so much the things we don't know that get us in trouble. It's the things we know that ain't so." (Artemus Ward)

    by Silencio on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 08:00:01 AM PDT

  •  Civilization, you had one job. (7+ / 0-)

    The only point to having civilization is to protect the weak from the powerful.  (Otherwise I'd be happily eating bushes naked in a forest somewhere with nobody to tell me what to do.)

    Is this the best civilization can do?

    I support a Biblical definition of marriage. When do I get my concubines and second wife?

    by jackdabastard on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 08:31:12 AM PDT

  •  The clock should not be allowed to run out. (7+ / 0-)

    Given the difficulty victims have coming forward and often don't until years later, there should not be a statute of limitations on this type of crime.  Of course there is still risk of evidence not being as good if there is a delay.

    •  Hear, hear! (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Avilyn, Silencio, vadem165, Wee Mama

      And memory may be reasonably mistrusted after many years have passed.
      But that's why offenders choose children, aside from whatever foul glitch in their psyche causes their pedophilia. Children can't defend themselves, are often not sophisticated enough to put words to their attack, are more easily dumbstruck with fear... victims waiting to happen.

      The sickness that is more prevalent in our world, in all societies or any group of humans, than we believe or want to admit does not always have a discernible cause. Not all abusers were abused themselves and not all, I'd say most, abused do not grow up to be abusers themselves. But it does happen enough to be remarkable.

      What can be done? I am at a loss. I don't have the education or experience to offer a solution that might work. But taking children seriously when they report or exhibit signs of having been abused is a start, as is having the courage to do something about it once you know.

      As far as I know, this has not happened within my bloodline- my dna family. As far as I know. Even a family as close-knit as mine... no, especially a family as close knit as mine... would be devastated by such an occurrence.
      And when that happens, the child victim should be made to understand that results of the exposure of his/her experience do not rest on their shoulders, but on those of the sick individual who assaulted them. Because she or he will be prone to see the cause and effect as theirs. That cannot be overlooked.

      Lead with Love. Forgive as a reflex.

      by Gentle Giant on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 10:10:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am very close to a victim of (8+ / 0-)

    childhood sexual abuse. We met as adults in our 20s. She confided in me. She was one of the 68% abused by a family member from the time she was around 5 years old until she was in puberty.
    She told her mother the first time it happened. Her mother refused to believe her and cautioned her about saying such awful things about other people. As a result, she was never close to her mother.
    She told an older sister, who confronted the relative. It stopped briefly, but resumed with her rapist telling her if she told anyone again, SHE would be the one in serious trouble. She is not close to this relative, though she puts on a show of being okay around others. Fortunately, he now lives on the other side of the country.
    As I said, the abuse stopped when she was just into puberty. But a few years later, while she was in her teens, an elderly relative tried to grope her in a moment when they happened to be alone. He earned a heavy slap across his face and he never approached her in any way, shape or form again.
    So I met her as an adult. Her confiding in me came after we addressed a hiccup in our relationship. I give everybody the benefit of the doubt and don't give up on loved ones until there is no other alternative. From the point of her confidence on, I had a frame of reference to work with to keep our relationship solid, because adult survivors of childhood abuse do face consequences, some even caused by their adopted coping mechanisms. In my loved one's case, there is a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. She is a superb human being but cannot see herself in a positive light, no matter how much honesty-based flattery one might give her.
    She has unreasonably potent reactions or overreactions to what are reasonably seen as minor issues, affronts or happenstances.
    She rarely stands up for herself, won't speak up when a more adjusted individual would have ripped a jerk a new one in her place.
    In short, her capacity for happiness, much less joy, is stunted. Often, any expression of love more than the cursory, daily or routine comes only with apologies after a major problem has surfaced and been dealt with.
    People who were abused as children often need more patience and understanding with their intimacy.
    If anything, she has been extremely protective of her children even into their adulthood. The one time she stands up and hollers is when they're unfairly treated or are given short shrift. She has been a formidable mother to her children.
    And she has been as loyal as any friend or loved one could be- not as a result of surviving her childhood horrors, but in spite of them. She copes just fine, until the peaks are too high or the valleys too low.
    My patience and benefit of the doubt have paid dividends on our decades long relationship. She is a beautiful human being.
    If only she could have the ability to accept that about herself.

    Lead with Love. Forgive as a reflex.

    by Gentle Giant on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 09:55:35 AM PDT

    •  Thank you, for standing by her (6+ / 0-)

      You are a steadying hand in an unforgiving sea - I know because I am blessed to have my husband stand in the gap for me.

      Your words are thoughtful, beautiful, soul-searing and refreshingly honest.  I know, on a daily basis, the burden my husband carries as a direct result of my abuse.  

      He is my hero, my protector, my lover, my friend.

      While I don't pretend to speak for any other survivor, I will tell you that your love, compassion and patience mirrors my own husband's which goes a long way to re-establishing a sense of self-worth in me (albeit a VERY slow and PAINFUL process).

      Thank you for your post.  This would make a great diary of what it means to be a spouse/loved one of a survivor...

      Roxine

      "...I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul" Invictus - William Ernest Henley Please donate to TREE Climbers, our 501(c)(3).

      by Roxine on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 10:02:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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