•Parenting, Marriage & Family Life Coach
There are many myths about sexual abuse, abusers, victims and everything that surrounds child sexual abuse. We need to debunk them so that parents and guardians can know what is right about the sexual abuse of teens and children.
Myth 1: Child sexual assault is a rare occurrence.
Fact: Until recently, child sexual assault wasn’t recognized as a significant problem. In fact, statistics are difficult to obtain because the vast majority of sexual assault cases go unreported. Nowadays it has become a real problem with more assault being recorded daily around the world. It is a reality of our time, we should stop living in denial and get up to protect the life and destiny of our children.
Myth 2: It isn’t important for my child to have information about sexual assault.
Fact: It’s as important for children to receive information about sexual assault from the right source, preferably from their parents, for their own safety as it is for them to receive information about fires, crossing the street and learning to swim.
Prevention works! If you leave your children without information, you open the door for abuses that can ruin their lives and future.
Myth 3: It’s damaging and/or dangerous to give my child information about sexual assault.
Fact: It’s potentially more damaging and/or dangerous to withhold information from your child regarding sexual assault. A child who doesn’t have any information about it may not know what to do if someone tries to manipulate or force him or her into some type of sexual contact. Because your child has inaccurate or limited information, he or she may be embarrassed or afraid to report sexual assault and hesitant to seek treatment.
Myth 4: A discussion about sexual assault will Scare my child.
Fact: Sexual assault is a sensitive topic. It’s frightening for children to have inaccurate information. Chances are that they would feel more comfortable if the topic was discussed more openly.
Just as you may hesitate to teach your child about sexual assault because you don’t want to scare him or her, your child may not tell you information because he or she doesn’t want to upset or scare you. Since some people believe it’s better to avoid talking about sexual assault incidents, victims feel compelled to hide any occurrence of assault or abuse. The fear around the topic can be handled by talking about frightening types of touch, relationships or people and also talking about positive types of touch, relationships or people.
Myth 5: Discussion about sexual assault will scare my child away from all touch.
Fact: Not at all. After discussing the differences between good and bad types of touch, children have more permission to touch, more permission to ask about confusing touch, and permission to say NO to touch they do not want. It is better they get the right information from the right source for their protection.
Myth 6: Most children who are assaulted are attacked by a stranger.
Fact: People close by are the major culprit in child abuse. It is a little bit difficult for a child to be assaulted by a stranger apart from the case of violent rape. But close relatives, teachers, caregivers etc who are known to have easy access to children are more prone to abusing a child. It was reported that of all rape victims under the age of 12 reported to law enforcement, 90% knew their offender. This includes adults he or she knows and trusts such as a family member, neighbour, babysitter, relative or family friend.
Myth 7: Sex offenders are dirty old men.
Fact: There is no specific age or gender of who a sex predator can be. Sex offenders can be young, old, short, tall, rich, men, women, black, white, yellow, red, good looking, unattractive. In other words, sex offenders can be anyone! It can be someone far away and can be someone next door.
Myth 8: Incest only occurs in poor, inner-city families and uneducated families.
Fact: Sex between relatives and family members happen anywhere between people of different background and status. There is no evidence that links socio-economic status, race or educational level to sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of children occurs within every neighbourhood and school community across the country.
Myth 9: Most children who are sexually abused do something to cause the abuse to occur.
Fact: The responsibility for the abuse lies solely with the adult who abuses the child. The notion of the sexually provocative child is a myth which lays the blame for the assault on the victim. The child’s behaviour is neither an excuse nor an explanation for the abusive actions of the adult offender.
Myth 10: Sexual abuse of a child (including incest) is not damaging to the child.
Fact: Sexual abuse can be physically and psychologically damaging to the victim as well as stressful for the victim’s family members. For the victim, the emotional consequences are usually very low self-esteem; depression, guilt, substantial confusion, and ambivalence.
Myth 11: My child cannot be sexually abused, I have prayed for him or her.
Fact: Prayer is good but prayer alone is not enough to prevent abuse. You need to get yourself trained, train your child, protect him or her and be watchful. Don’t just pray and go to bed.
Myth 12: Everybody around me is born again, no fear at all. They can’t abuse my children.
Facts: Not everybody around you knows the Lord, don’t trust without testing.
Myth 13: My child is always with family members, I don’t need to be afraid.
Truth: Family members do abuse children too. Be careful and watchful.
Myth 14: Only a girl child can be sexually assaulted. I need not worry about my children because they are all boys.
Truth: Not any more. Women and girls are known to abuse young boys. Gays are also known to abuse young boys, protect your sons.
Myth 15: If my child is assaulted he or she will tell me immediately.
Truth: Most children don’t talk. They may be afraid, abusers may threaten them not to talk, and they may be too confused to talk. So watch out for signs of abuse, don’t assume all is well. In fact, ask the child questions.
Myth 16: I did not assault anybody’s child; nobody will assault my child.
Truth: That you did not assault any child does not mean they can’t abuse your child. Protect your children.
Myth 17: My children live in a gated house, they cannot be sexually assaulted.
Truth: Your children can be assaulted even inside a gated house. They can be abused by your domestic staff, visitors, holidaymakers, and even family members.
Myth 18: The school will teach my children about sex education; I need not teach them again.
Truth: It is your duty to teach your children about sex, not the duty of the school. Even if the school does that, it is better handled and continually followed up by you.
Myth 19: Nobody around me looks like a sex predator
Truth: Sexual predators do not have special looks, they look normal like all of us. But the animals in them can be so wicked and that is why you must protect your children.
Myth 20: My child is very young, nobody can assault her.
Truth: People abuse children as young as 6 months old. So be careful.
Myth 21: I know my children, they can’t abuse each other.
Truth: You don’t know the sexual secrets of your children, no parent does. So watch out. Separate boys from girls as soon as possible; be watchful.
Myth 22: Children with disabilities are less likely to become victims of abuse than children without disabilities.
Truth: Children no matter their state can be abused.
Myth 23: Only young men can abuse a child, old men cannot do it.
Truth: Old men in their seventies are known to abuse children, don’t trust anyone because of his age.
Myth 24: Religious leaders cannot do it.
Truth: Many Catholic priests have been convicted in years past in many parts of the world recently. Some fallen pastors and other religious leaders can be involved too, be watchful.
Myth 25: Only men sexually abuse children.
Truth: Many women are also in business. Some of them are lesbians who abuse young girls, while some others abuse small boys.
Myth 26: Parents cannot sexually abuse their children.
Truth: Some fathers are in this satanic act; mothers too.
Myth 27: Remove a child from the adults who abuse him or her and you have solved the problem for both adult and child.
Truth: It may be necessary to remove a child from his or her parents or usual caregiver in time of crisis to ensure his or her safety and wellbeing. Removing a child from his or her parents can have significant emotional effects. The goal should be to return the child to his or her parents or other family members when his safety can be assured.
Myth 28: It is child abuse if it is violent.
Truth: Child abuse does not necessarily involve violence or anger. Abuse often involves adults exploiting their power over children and using them as objects for their own gratification rather than respecting their needs and rights as children.
Child abuse is defined as “… the harming (whether physically, emotionally, sexually), ill-treatment, abuse, neglect or deprivation of any child or young person”.
Myth 29: Children usually tell someone that they are being abused.
Truth: Different studies have shown that 46% and
69% of adults abused as children never disclosed it in their childhood. Abusers can be very effective in making children too fearful to talk about what is going on. Often, children do not have the words to use to let someone know what is happening to them.
We are more likely to identify children who are being abused through physical signs or their behaviour
Myth 30: Most abusers do stop after doing it once, they do realize their mistake.
Truth: Most abusers do not stop, they move from one victim to another. That is why it is better to discover them and make them face the music.