Unfortunately, there is still a culture of silence around sexual abuse. This weekend I had the opportunity to talk with a young girl who was sexually molested. Its usually a sad event helping someone work through the impact of sexual trauma, but this has been particularly disheartening because of the close ties.
As we externalise the pain, I realised once again that healing is a process and as much as I would like to rescue her from some of the more sensitive places that the journey will take her, I cannot. Everyone’s journey is different; everyone emerges as a warrior having walked their walk and processes their unique experiences. I had to be content with the fact that she has made the decision to heal.
Healing will not happen unless you consciously choose it.
Culture of silence
Another astounding realisation surrounding this event is the attitude of her peers. We have moved a long way in beginning to talk about abuse but is seems we still have a great distance to go in tackling some entrenched views that seem to have passed on through the generations.
The molestation was sad for me, but the attitude of her peers leaves a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Because it tells me that we still have a lot of work to do in educating young girls about their worth, acceptable behaviour and the importance of healing. We need to give the message that sexual abuse is wrong as many times as it will take for change to occur. Our children need this because it will provide them with the courage to speak their truth.
I grew up in a culture where there were no words to describe or report sexual abuse, and so I internalised the trauma. It was astounding to me to realised that nearly 40 years on young women are still in that position. Her friends chastised her for choosing to report the abuse. They told her she should have just let it go. Yes, you read that right. I cannot help wondering about the events they are trying to forget and let go.
How do young girls know that it is unacceptable to talk about molestation and who is responsible for the silence? Is it the home? The schools, Law enforcement or society. I think it is important to identify where the silence starts so that we can help to facilitate dialogue and that will sensitise our children to the need to share when they have assaulted. The problem will not go away because we ignore it.
Here is what the silence does not tell them,
- It cannot talk about the low self-esteem that they will battle for the rest of their lives.
- It neglects to mention the relationships choices that they will make over and over again because of an entrenched mindset of not being worthy enough.
- It won’t tell them that parenting will become challenging and they will not know how to pass on values of self-worth and self-advocacy on to their children.
Unfortunately, this is what the young people glean from our silence.
- You are not worth it.
- No one will listen to you.
- Who will believe?
- I think I am to blame.
- This happens to everyone; you are not special.
Breaking the silence
We need to break the silence around abuse; this is everyone’s problem. Therefore, we all have to contribute to the solution. We can begin by making sex and inappropriate touching part of an ongoing conversation. By doing this, you will give someone a language to talk to you in if something does happen. I don’t think we can believe that this won’t occur to me. The statistic says 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 8 boys suffer sexual molestation before the age of 18. Therefore it is not a problem that we can continue to ignore.
If you suffered abuse and haven’t yet made the decision to process the pain, the only hope for healing is walking through it. Some delay because they have preconceived ideas about healing that stops them from accessing support. The truth is it will challenge and stretch you, but if you are willing to do the work you can thrive again.
You can start by signing up for my FREE video course HEALING YOUR WOUNDED SELF.