SHATTERING THE SILENCE – KEEPING SECRETS 01.15.2014
We hear about a child being abused on the evening news, read about it in our local newspapers, see stories on social media such as Facebook or Twitter, and even in the gossip circles at the local coffee shop. Unless you are living in a cave on an isolated island you one way or another know someone that is being or has been abused. Often the question has been asked “why didn’t they tell someone?” Some teens aren’t too keen about opening up to adults. Sometimes the ones that are the closest to a teenager are the last one to know what’s going on. Teenagers are at a stage in their life where they’re too old play the role of a child and too young to play the role of an adult. It’s a very confusing time for them. They’re trying to find themselves and trying to find where they fit in. Their bodies are changing, their role in life is changing, and when a teenager is being abused it makes things all that much more complicated. Abusers may try to turn the abuse around on the teen to make them feel guilty, to make them feel that the abuse is their fault, that they caused all this to happen. Abusers manipulate their victims in many ways, and they make their victims think that no one will ever believe them. Abusers might buy their victims things, or give them money so they’ll keep quiet. That happened frequently for me. It creates a false and warped sense of owing the abuser for the gifts they receive, keeping these teens less likely to report what is happening. Sexual abusers will often tell a teen that because they may have felt pleasure during their abuse, that they ultimately wanted it to happen, and even more disgusting, that they enjoyed the abuse. What most people, ESPECIALLY victims of child abuse, do not know is that it is not uncommon for a victim to feel pleasure, to even reach orgasm during their abuse, which gives their abuser even more power to shame the victim, to make them feel as though they were in some way complicit to the abuse. This in no way, shape or form means they are enjoying it. In truth, what this really means, is that their body is simply reacting to physical stimulation they way it was designed to respond. Your physical body cannot distinguish between consensual or non-consensual stimulation. Teens who have been, or are being, abused are often very confused and uncertain about how and who to tell. Abusers are likely to go to great lengths to keep their behavior a secret. Children being abused has been a never ending cycle for decades. These monsters manipulate a child’s feelings and understanding of right and wrong, they manipulate the understanding of what the word consensual means. Can you imagine how completely confused you would be as a teenager, already struggling to find your place in this world, wanting to be an adult, then having someone you trust (as the abuser is often known to the victim) sexually abuse you, making you feel dirty, and making you feel ashamed for ‘wanting’ the abuse to occur. What would you do or say? Would you be confused, unsure of what to do, unsure if you are responsible? Would you stay silent because you are confused – and afraid of what will happen? Most of these teenagers suffer in silence because they do not know what they can do, and it is time to change that. It is time to educate our young adults and empower them by making them understand that their body is theirs, and if they have a right to defend it. They have a right to speak out free of shame and fear. It falls on us adult survivors to be the voice for those that can’t speak for themselves. We need to let them know that it’s okay to tell someone that they’re being abused, that we believe them, and most of all that it is not their fault.
We must work together to shatter the silence, bring about change, and make the world a better place where abuse is no more.