Open Secret: Inability to Reveal Childhood Abuse Counts as Secondary Trauma

In this episode of Open Secret, we continue the conversation on why children find it difficult to open up about sexual abuse. They often hide the truth within themselves and they may even lie as a result of confusion about the consequences of telling the truth.

Child Sexual Abuse

There are two types of trauma attached to childhood sexual abuse (CSA):

Primary trauma – Sexual abuse

Secondary trauma – The abused kids’ fear of expressing their problems to others because of the reactions that can be expected

Some of the reasons for the children not revealing their abuse-related experiences include:

1] Threats from the abuser – The possibility of the abuser blackmailing or threatening the abused child is ever-present. Some may even tell the children that they would be killed if they open up or that their family members may be harmed.

2] Childhood innocence – Abusers often make the children swear on their parents’ name to not reveal what has happened between them. This plays on a child’s implicit trust of elders, especially in the family, and their inability to know right from wrong.

3] Fear of being exposed – Abused children often are scared of the details of their abuse becoming open knowledge. They have fears of being kicked out of their own homes or out of their schools.

4] Being looked at as liars – The abuse survivors tend to not open up for fear of being suspected of lying by their parents and teachers. Children think that no one will trust them and that no one will help them. They develop a strong sense of helplessness as a result.

5] It is ‘punishment’, not ‘abuse’ – The abuser often manipulates the abused child by stating that the act is not abuse but punishment for their bad behaviour. Most times, the victims blindly believe the abusers’ words.

Listen in for more…



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