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Beyond the white picket fence

Dirty Secret, part 2

"IF I hadn't told we'd still be a family"

Believe it or not these words were uttered by a child who was in our home. Guilt, shame, rage, shock and denial, all the emotions left in the wake when sexual abuse is reported. Over 90% of children are abused by someone they know.

In 2018, The national child tramatic stress network, stated abuse by a family member or a kin like member, accounted for 33 to 50 percent of identified sexual abuse victims.These cases are harder to get true numbers on due to the lack of reporting to authorities.

When the victim finally tells someone of the abuse the reaction of those around them sets the stage for recovery. When family and friends are supportive the victim can begin the healing process. Unfortunately this is often not the case. When the abuse is Intrafamilial, family members may not believe the child, be financially dependent and/or abused themselves by the offender. The desire to keep it quiet out of fear of repercussions or complete refusal, causes the victim to reabsorb the guilt, shame, and utter despair that the perpetrator should have. The ugly side of "telling" is the child not only feels responsible for the break up of the family but often blamed for causing the abuse by "seducing" the perpetrator.

According to Psychology Today, family loyalty is the number one reason for not reporting. Family loyalty is the strongest rationale victims give for non disclose or reporting as adults. The article also states even after a disclosure to a family member the abuse may continue for years because of fear of retaliation on other members or financial hardship. This keeps the secret within the familial wall and causes more vicitmatation. So now what?

Next week we will look at real stories and the different outcomes from disclosure and the road to recovery.

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