Panelist shares about healing from child sexual abuse
Dear Readers: Child sexual abuse affects 1-in-3 girls and 1-in-7 boys nationally. In 97 percent of the cases, the abuser is a family member or friend. On September 9, we responded to a letter about childhood sexual abuse and several panelists reached out to help. Today, Hana brings more help, hope and healing to all who need it. —Lauren
Editor's Note: I'm so grateful for Hana's sharing, which I know will encourage many victims, survivors, families and friends to pursue healing. We are in this together. I am bringing Hana's comments over from our earlier column so her words are all in one place:
from SEP 9:
Hana, 23, San Francisco: The most life-saving words repeated to me were, "IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT" and "YOU ARE NOT ALONE." (For anyone working through this, really hear that! Nothing you did deserved sexual abuse — absolutely NOTHING.) I was sexually abused by my uncle and his girlfriend from age 4-11. I blocked out their threats, mind games, molest, and rape until the flashbacks came this year. I only recently told my family so I understand the terror. I didn't want to "disrupt the peace" either, until I realized it wasn't me who disrupted it — and that a crime unspoken cannot be healed. Yes, it may draw people apart, but she will be so empowered by it. Right now, she is dealing with it in an unhealthy way, but your gift is being there for her, not being pushy. Honesty and suggestions are good, but because of what happened, she'll probably hate being told what to do.
The warning signs of child sexual abuse and the things parents can do/say to help prevent it at the various stages of childhood and adolescence, have been compiled from expert websites in my Editor's Note in the SEP 9 column. Please review by clicking the link.
Sometimes the most loving and attentive parents are unable to detect child sexual abuse, as Hana notes. The guilt must be unimaginable. For parents in this situation, when you do finally find out about it, your belief in your child and your proactive stance in truly being there for him/her, including speaking the unspeakable crime aloud to the abuser (so they cannot continue harming other children, or your own child through their exalted status or having to endure their presence at family gatherings), will help in the healing process immensely. Difficult as each step is, we cannot keep looking the other way.
Many children, because they ARE children, cannot, without help from parents or family, come to grips with the abuse until they are adults themselves. As Hana describes, the mind games, the protective amnesia, the threats of death and heavy-duty conditioning by the abuser to feel shame, all lead toward immobilization until the child is self-supporting, free of the abuse, and possessing the adult-brain capacity to process the trauma.
Hopefully, each time stories are shared, as Hana shared today, we will all, victims, families, friends and society, become more attuned, supportive, courageous and steadfast in brushing aside denial and excuses and standing up and saying no to those who perpetrate this egregious crime on innocent children. —Lauren
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