Child sex abuse is one of the very worst types of trauma. It’s a truly horrific situation to be in and leads to a whole host mental and emotional difficulties that can last well into adulthood. The innocent mind of a child is nowhere near equipped to deal with the concept of sexual reproduction, much less be forced to take part in the act itself. The unfortunate truth is the memories will never fully be erased, making a 100% recover extremely hard to achieve. What can be obtained is an acceptance of what’s happened and the ability to bring a sense of closure to the experience(s).
In much the same way as PTSD, this type of trauma requires a mindset of self-management. However, this doesn’t mean a full and rewarding life cannot be led, despite the uphill challenge.
Given the incidence of child sex abuse is an uncommon occurrence for most, and being an uncomfortable subject to speak of openly, it creates a lot of uncertainty. Sexual abuse is a traumatic experience at any stage of life, but when experienced so young, it causes all manner of trust issues that last deep into adulthood. When you couple this with the feeling of having no one relate to, it becomes a place of extreme loneliness. Here are some often cited misconceptions to that are in need of revision:
The Victim is Too Young to Understand What has Happened
There is much more that hinges on the understanding of what’s right and wrong than just age. We can innately sense when something isn’t right, and children are finely tuned intuitively than many adults. A child would undoubtedly feel uncomfortable regardless of their ability to cognise what they were forced to do. But even in the event this isn’t true, if the abuse took place over a prolonged period, the capacity to realise the harm that is being brought upon them will soon become apparent with age.
The Child Will Forget the Events of Their Trauma and Therapy Will Make it Worse
Another dangerous misnomer. Memory is a powerful faculty, as we retain far more past experiences than we’re ever aware of. Everything, from the moment of our birth contributes to our mental programming, which affects the way we carry ourselves into adulthood. The idea that trauma will simply be forgotten is quite far removed from the truth. The experiences may be repressed, but they will never truly be forgotten.
Children Who Have Been Sexually Abused Will Become Abusers Themselves
This is a very challenging perception a victim may have to deal with. Most children do not grow up to commit the same kind of acts they had forced upon them. However, there are well-documented cases of children acting out amongst their peers as a form of venting their inner turmoil. Instances of bullying and other anti-social behaviours are a known side-effect.
Most Children Are Abused by Strangers
The awareness of stalkers shouldn’t be dismissed entirely, but figures have shown that around 90% of victims under the age of twelve knew their abuser beforehand. This is an incredibly high number and points to a more predatory approach favoured by those committing these crimes, as opposed to the more opportunistic profile we associate with them. This unfortunate theory has been further validated by the recent spate of historic abuse claims in English football clubs.