The Vulnerability Of Child Victims Of Sexual Abuse

by Fr. Shay Cullen

Tender Loving Care | Photo by Partha3003 via Wikimedia Commons

When a child is sexually abused, the greatest hurt is the fear, helplessness, and total betrayal of the vulnerable, trusting child by an adult whom they trust and admire. Most sexual abusers in any society are biological fathers, the live-in partner of the mother, or someone the child trusts. Children are emotionally and psychologically vulnerable because of their dependency on adults for every human need.

One in every four children is a victim of sexual abuse before they reach adulthood. This ought to be a shocking and troubling truth to most people more than a statistic. Child victims- boys and girls- are deeply hurt and traumatized by the abuse. They bury this hurt and pain, anger and frustration within them. They can become depressed, silent, withdrawn, and lose interest in school, studies, and playing, and are not normal, happy children unless they get deep, healing emotional release therapy.

As much as ninety percent of cases of abuse are not reported to anyone. In most jurisdictions in the developed countries, an estimated 10 percent are reported to a trusted person or authorities who do nothing about it. Of the 10 percent reported, only five percent are likely to get to court, and only one to two percent get a conviction depending on the jurisdiction. The world is a pedophile paradise where the offenders roam free to abuse children with impunity.

Victims of sexual abuse have to live with the memory, the secret, and pain their whole lives. They are not empowered and self-confident and have not been trained and taught to stand up for themselves and be outspoken against acts of abuse. These vulnerable and disempowered children are frequently dominated and controlled by their parents or relatives, who may be unsupportive and verbally abuse them. They lack self-confidence and trust in the adults they know. They feel estranged, lonely, and unloved. They are the most vulnerable and easily targeted by a relative, neighbor, or friendly stranger who sexually abuses them.

“These vulnerable and disempowered children are frequently dominated and controlled by their parents or relatives, who may be unsupportive and verbally abuse them. They lack self-confidence and trust in the adults they know. They feel estranged, lonely, and unloved.”

The parents may have failed to have a strong bonding relationship with their child and failed to encourage them to be open, extroverted, and tell-all. So they don’t fully trust their parent and hide the abuse. Many children often have a distant nervous relationship with their parents, who may be strict and blame their child for small childish misbehavior. This causes a trust gap, a fear of being blamed. When children are taught to be meek, mild, obedient, submissive, docile, and told not to talk about private matters and never talk about sex with their parents, they are seriously weakened and endangered.

You might say that some societies conspire to keep children silent. The traditional sayings that promote a culture of silence are “Silence is golden” and “Children can be seen but not heard.” Children can know so much about the secrets of their parents, relative,s or neighbors. Ignorant and misguided parents create a pedophile’s wonderland of multiple child abuse.

These docile and timid children are afraid. They lack trust in adults and are afraid to complain against other adults when they suffer acts of abuse. They believe they will not be believed, and the parent will be angry if they blame someone who abused them. Many parents don’t believe their children.

“When children are taught to be meek, mild, obedient, submissive, docile, and told not to talk about private matters and never talk about sex with their parents, they are seriously weakened and endangered.”

“What did you say? Your uncle Bert would never do such a thing, don’t you dare say that again, you are lying,” they might say. Parents want their children to believe that parents are near perfect. Rarely will a parent admit to their child that they made a mistake. To have an open, trusting child, parents need to trust their children, give support, encourage, affirm, praise, reinforce and have positive interaction with them. They ought to join their children in play, sports, be trustworthy friends to them at every opportunity.

A true happy friendship between parents and their children is the kind of love that will ensure the children will have trust, openness, and confidence to immediately share news about good and bad happenings in their lives. When they know of physical or sexual abuse to themselves or others, they will run and tell and get help.

Parents and guardians must listen attentively with full attention to their children daily, talk with them, and teach about ‘good and bad touches.” They must train them in “safe-craft,” to be street smart, to know that it is not a perfect innocent world and that there are good and bad people, and some might try to harm them. They must be taught to run away and report any attempt of bad touches.

Parents should be guarding their children against the opportunistic pedophile like minding and guarding their children while in traffic. To protect, guard them and never get angry or scold their children. Parents have to be mindful and alert to the constant danger of ever-present pedophiles in their community. They must keep their children close to them at all times and be guarded by a female family member trained to watch for predators or strangers coming close and text for help in a suspicious situation.

“A true happy friendship between parents and their children is the kind of love that will ensure the children will have trust, openness, and confidence to immediately share news about good and bad happenings in their lives”

Berry,13 years old, was living with her grandmother in a poor hovel. She was grabbed by a neighbor and taken to his house, where he raped her. He threatened to kill her and her grandmother if she told anyone. Stunned with fear and dread, she buried the pain and told no one.

Months later, she was approached by a nice, kindly man of about 34 years of age. He promised Berry food and money and invited 13-year old Berry to his house a few kilometers away. She was persuaded to stay overnight, and that night she was sexually abused. He persuaded her that he loved her and would be her protector and friend and promised her gifts. She was persuaded by his promises and stayed. A few weeks later, her grandmother found her. She was rescued by the authorities and brought to the Preda Foundation Home for abused children. She is recovering, finding her sense of worth, dignity, and being empowered day by day. Berry has realized how she was exploited and abused and will file criminal charges against her abusers with the help of the Preda paralegal officer. Berry is just one of the hundreds of thousands of children that are abused every day.

We have to teach children to protect themselves, tell of any attempted acts of abuse or abuse itself. No one must remain silent, for that is complicity. We must act to heal the child and bring the abusers to justice. Report child abuse in confidentiality to Preda at +63 9175324453.

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