‘Don’t tell anyone about it,’ ‘it remains between mommy and you,’ ‘you will be just fine,’ how often do we hear parents tell these things to their children because they are too afraid and embarrassed to talk about the abuse that their children have suffered. Unfortunately, today we live in a society where grave issues like child sexual abuse are brushed under the carpet, rather than being address publicly. It comes as no surprise that this has encouraged abusers to continue with their predatory behavior, as they are not afraid of consequences.
It is about time that we, as a society, break the silence over child sexual abuse and make efforts to recognize and respond to these heinous crime with the best of our abilities. We need to stop treating it as personal problem, but rather look at it as societal issue and hence publicly acknowledge our responsibility and take measures to prevent sexual child abuse.
The time is now to create a culture where survivors of child sexual abuse feel safe and heard. This will only be possible when we can identify and acknowledge this issue. It is, perhaps, the first step towards combating sexual abuse against children.
Recognizing Child Sexual Abuse
Below are some ways you can recognize child sexual abuse; if you see these signs in a child around you, know that they have or are still experiencing sexual abuse.
- Keeping secrets from you
- Avoiding removing clothes
- Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or are generally afraid of being away from you
- Showing a drastic change in their eating habits
- Spending increasing amount of time alone
- Becoming more aggressive
- Experiencing nightmares and flashbacks/zoning out
- Losing interest in school or extra-curricular activities that they once loved.
- Experiencing unexpected bleeding, bruises, blood on their sheets or their undergarments or trauma signs on their genitalia.
Responding To Child Sexual Abuse
Once you recognize sexual abuse against children, it is extremely important that you take the right steps to respond to it. What you do next will decide whether the child feels heard and supported or further falls down the rabbit hole. So, here are some powerful ways to stand by survivors and support them:
Believe the Survivor
The most important reaction you can have when supporting a survivor is to believe them. It might be possible that the child shares information that is hard to hear, but despite of that, you must communicate and believe them.
Contact Appropriate Resources
Let the child know that they are not alone. Get in touch with professionals and anti-violence organizations, like Sanaa’s Stars, that offer both, education and resources, to help combat child sexual violence and support the survivors in their healing journey.
Give Them a Safe Space
Every survivor has the right to voice their feelings and share their experience. They might feel like they have lost their voice but you need to create a safe space for them where they are not silenced but rather heard, without judgment and interruptions.
Most survivors feel like they have their control taken away from them. You need to make sure that you empower them so they can reestablish control over their physical boundaries,
We need to work together to shatter the silence, recognize the signs and create strategies that lift up survivors of child sexual abuse. If you, too, want to stop child abuse, get in touch with Sanaa’s Stars, where professionals work towards creating a safe and nurturing environment for survivors, to help create a bright future.