Awareness regarding childhood sexual abuse has grown over the years, but to stop its occurrence, a lot more needs to be done. Abused children fight crippling guilt for what has happened to them, and that is part of the reason why they often don’t speak up about their experiences. Few sexually abused children are aware of the concept of ‘sexual abuse’ and they are usually not free enough to share their personal problems with their parents or their teachers. There are, in fact, many different reasons for the affected children not sharing their feelings even with people known to them.
To encourage children to come forward, the adults around them should show explicit empathy towards the children. It is the duty of every parent to make sure that their children are protected. Parents should make every effort to understand their children’s feelings and perspectives. Children and their parents should have a close relationship that provides them with the courage to share feelings or problems.
There are five important reasons that hinder abused children’s ability to share their personal feelings:
1] Sexually abused children fear being blamed for the abuse, so they prefer to hide their experiences from their parents. This feeling is worsened by the abuser denying responsibility for the abuse and stating that the child’s own behavior towards them made the abuse possible.
2] Some abused children are unable to explain what happened to them through words, whereas a few children are too young to even use words. Some children might not know the right words to use while opening up.
3] The prospect of getting the abuser into trouble is a real fear that children grapple with. Abused children often get scared thinking about future problems, especially if there has been an emotional connection between the child and the abuser. Typically, an abuser creates a sense of trust between them and the child, which makes the latter believe in the former strongly. But, ultimately, the abuser breaks this trust. Children often end up thinking that that a complaint may lead to the abuser harming them or their family.
4] Abused kids are often scared of media hype. They are also scared about the problems that they would face in the future through the media. When a case gains prominence in the media, it gets widely published for the whole world to read about. The fear of the victim getting named and identified becomes very real then. Children tend to be wary of such attention and fear being judged by people.
5] The abused children don’t identify themselves as victims because of their innocence. They are usually not fully aware that what had happened to them is abusive. The kids may also be unsure as to whom they should share details of the abuse with. Abused children have also reported experiencing lucid dreams.