Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
(Quick update: only my mother thinks I'm funny now.)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Child Sexual Assault

Today my Facebook and Twitter timelines have been flooded with the story of Josh Duggar and his alleged sexual assault of several children. This story is tragic and common.

I was sexually assaulted by a relative as a child. There are parallels from my life to this story, minus the celebrity complication.

We have not figured out as a society how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part this is because pedophilia does not seem to respond well to available treatments. And so what does one do with those who perpetrate.

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because many
perpetrators were victims themselves. And most often they did not receive justice or counseling either. This creates an ambivalence that many of us will not admit, but that nevertheless permeates the conversation.

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because somewhere deep inside (or sometimes right out there on the surface) we believe as a society that victims of child sexual assault are to blame or are implicated in their own abuse. 

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because it is extremely inconvenient to deal with it. Families get broken apart and destabilized. Parents lose custody and someone else has to care for children. People go to jail and lose jobs. It's very expensive.

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because we are squeamish. The conversation, despite the nearly sexual titillation of celebrity headlines, makes us uncomfortable, triggers our own trauma, makes us feel guilty/ashamed, reminds us that our own houses are made of glass. 

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because it is not a simple problem. Most often children love the relative who abuses them. Most often we love the cousin who perpetrated. Most often we are dependent in some way on the perpetrator who is our spouse/parent/uncle/aunt/grandparent/coach/teacher/pastor.

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because there is absolutely no place a potential perpetrator could turn to get help without getting buried in shame or not being taken seriously. 

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because we know the justice system is not in the slightest bit just. People of color are wrongly convicted and more harshly sentenced than white folks. White folks walk away from unspeakable crimes. 

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because we do not wish to talk about this subject openly. Our family secrets are generational and painful. We are scared to let in the devil in the night--better not to speak his or her name.

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault. At least in some part because we have fetishized youth and youthful bodies, slimness, hairlessness, demure/naive/sweetness, compliance. We work hard to mentally block the connection between that societal fetish and a desire for pre-pubescent bodies, and a national conversation about child sexual assault would require us to face that head on.

We have not figured out how to deal with child sexual assault because we don't want to. And our children are suffering for it. More children than we will ever know. More suffering than we will ever know. But we will feel the effects of child sexual assault nonetheless.

And until we figure out how to deal with child sexual assault, it will not stop.

3 comments:

  1. Thank you for this courageous post. You are so right. My organization, Committee for Children, has been working to prevent child sexual abuse for 35 years. We just recently developed a series of short videos and articles for parents to help them learn why and how they should talk to their kids about sexual abuse (research shows that talking to kids about abuse can be a protective factor from it), and acknowledging that these conversations are awkward and even scary but very, very necessary. I encourage you to check out these resources and, if you are so inclined, share them with as many people as possible.

    Thanks again for your post.

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    1. (You can get to the resources by clicking my name, but just so it's out in the open, they can be found at www.earlyopenoften.org.)

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    2. Thank you for reading and offering resources, Allison. Blessings on your work!

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