Misconceptions (part one) by Sophie Olson
There are many misconceptions surrounding Child Sexual Abuse. This is in part due to the silence, but they are perpetuated because misconceptions are more palatable than the reality.
I’m open about my work as a survivor activist, and as a mother of young children I speak to other mothers. Sometimes a mother tells me they would ‘just know’ if their child was being sexually abused or that their child would ‘definitely say something’.
I would like to dispel this misconception using my own lived experience. Not only did I not tell anyone I was being sexually abused within my family home, by a family member, I went to extreme lengths to hide the evidence of child sexual abuse, including hiding or disposing of underwear.
Misunderstanding is generally simpler than true understanding, and hence has more potential for popularity.”Raheel Farooq
I tried to treat the physical effects that stopped me from falling asleep at night, myself – through trial and error, with family adults downstairs, oblivious to my plight.
I comforted myself. I was attached – really attached to a soft toy comforter that I kept pressed against the lower half of my face. Having to leave this comfort at home during the school day was painful for me. I felt exposed without this barrier between me and the outside world.
I sometimes cried about what was happening to me but only when I knew nobody would hear.
It’s a misconception that all abused children are told not to tell. Some will be told this but not all.
The grooming and manipulation that ensured my silence was far more subtle than don’t tell, this is our little secret.
When we bear witness to personal stories of abuse, and seek to understand how abuse of children can happen on the gut-wrenching scale it does, how it remains undetected in the majority of cases and how abusers get away with it, we can begin to combat it.
The first step is to combat the myths and misconceptions that serve the abuser, not the child.