Last night I was reading an article by James Dobson on “Why my family doesn’t do sleepovers?” and it sparked a rage inside me again of why this type of abuse is happening. The statistics that I have heard are 1 out of 4 women have been sexually abused while 1 out of 6 men. This might not even be accurate as many cases go unreported where the speculation is that the numbers are really 1 out of 2 women and 1 out of 4 men. This is astonishing.
The impact that this has on society and how these individuals function in relationships impacts the larger community. Over the years, I have heard and seen so many of these stories unfold of how adult survivors are impacted by their innocence being taken away. As I delved deeper into my coaching practice, I started to see patterns and behaviours of survivors. In my own research of the impacts on survivors of sexual abuse include
- Guilt, shame, and blame. You might feel guilty about not having been able to stop the abuse, or even blame yourself if you experienced physical pleasure. It is important for you to understand that it was the person that hurt you that should be held accountable—not you.
- Self-esteem. You may struggle with low self-esteem, which can be a result of the negative messages you received from your abuser(s), and from having your personal safety violated or ignored. Low self-esteem can affect many different areas of your life such as your relationships, your career, and even your health.
- Intimacy and relationships. It’s possible that your first experiences with sex came as a result of sexual abuse. As an adult, intimacy might be a struggle at times. Some survivors experience flashbacks or painful memories while engaging in sexual activity, even though it is consensual and on their own terms. Survivors may also struggle to set boundaries that help them feel safe in relationships. Source.
- Questioning their sexuality. I have also seen where people question their own sexuality based on their childhood experiences.
In working with survivors who have already gone through the counselling, forgiveness of self and have the awareness of the impacts, I am fortunate as I am able to support them through to building the life they want. It breaks my heart everytime though that they think something is wrong with them but it isn’t. Someone felt powerless in their own life (usually the predator is a victim of sexual abuse themselves) that they needed to take the power away from someone else. In some cases, the predator doesn’t understand what is going on in their body especially when they are teenagers because they are not taught boundaries or have had their boundaries violated. The predator will act on impulse. This cycle of abuse needs to end. It is wrong. It is damaging people and societies. It needs to stop.
What is the solution then? We can’t monitor our children 24/7 but we can
- teach our children about their bodies
- we can listen to our child’s intuition and if they say they don’t want to be near someone then honor it. Children are clear channels and are really good about reading people’s energies.
- teach our children not to keep secrets from their parents
- have high self esteem as the adults so the children mirror that high self esteem
- Through example through the child they have a voice and their voice is honored. Listen to them, explain things to them and discipline through explanation and showcasing positive behaviour.
- If you know someone is being abused or has been abused, go with them to get them the support they need. Many times people will numb themselves through self-destructive behaviour, food, alcohol, drugs. They need to be loved unconditionally and they need to trust again. It is a long journey of self-love, feeling worthy and feeling powerful and they will need all the support they can get.
Together, we can change this in society. As adults and parents we need to live in our purpose, our passions, and be happy and confident. This behaviour will then be an example for the children around us. They will have the confidence to honor their bodies, value themselves and say no with the fierceness it is needed. Teaching them a good kick in the private parts if ever needed (because predators can be male or female) is never a bad thing either. Ps. I don’t really don’t condone violence but I am enraged by this topic so teach them the confidence and self-worth.