Sexual Abuse

March 3, 2010

By Rev'd Ed Swayze

Teachers, clergy and other professions are required by law to report any suspicion of abuse to children (under 16).

Definition:

Sexual abuse with respect to children is:

The abuse has a power aspect. An adult or teenager forces himself or herself on a child. A child is not in a position to give informed consent.

The abuser makes the victim promise secrecy by threats (break up of family), violence or bribery.

1 in 2 women are sexually abused by the time they are 18.

1 in 7 (new stats suggest 1 in 4) men are sexually abused by the time they are 18.

To stop abuse the victim must tell someone who will believe her or him. If a parent or family member is the abuser, the other parent probably may deny the allegations of abuse because if it is true, it will tear the family apart.

Some generalizations: A victim may be raised to think being abused is "normal" behaviour. Women tend to stay victims, seeking out partners who abuse them. Men tend to become abusers.

A victim of abuse tends to develop shame-based behaviour. (refer to Healing the Shame that Binds) depression, suicide and addictions (drug and alcohol etc.) are things victims must deal with. 

Often the memory of abuse is repressed. When it is remembered it devastates the person.

A victim of abuse needs therapy and good support systems to heal.  Therapy should be done by people who are trained in counseling people who are sexually abused.  A medical doctor, clergy, police officers, Fey Peterson House (Thunder Bay shelter for women and their family) and mental health are good initial contacts who will refer.  Mental health can do some therapy, and some therapy is done in an institutional setting.

Support systems: family, friends, peer helpers, teachers, self help group, and church & clergy.

If false memory syndrome is true it is rare. Given the seriousness of the amount of abuse it is irresponsible to advocate the theory. As I have not seen any studies or read anything on it all I have to offer is my opinion.

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