Child abuse

Stranger Danger... Really?  The real risk of It is a misconceptions that abuse is most likely to happen at the hands of a  stranger. Approximately 85% of abuse is committed by people the child knows.

We teach our children from an early age to trust family and to be cautious around others, when the ghastly facts suggest otherwise.  How often have you heard of children being advised to 'not talk to strangers', or advised you own children to be wary around those they do not know.

What we never discuss with our children (because we can barely even consider it a possibility) is the dangers from within the family.  This is most likely why when abuse does take place, that the victim of abuse does not know how to, or who to tell.  Can you imagine what might be going on in the mind  of the already traumatised  child,  'If this is happening in my family, how can I tell my family?'

Why do we  NOT talk about 'it' in families ? 

  • Because we are not aware of the risk
  • Cannot bare the thought (denial)*
  • Do not believe it can happen in our family
  • Have no idea how to approach this terrible subject
  • Have been abused ourselves and normalised some behaviours
  • We are frightened of getting it wrong
  • Risk of being alienated by family members (common when a family member discloses abuse to authorities), seen by abuser and others that are ashamed of the disclosure, as betrayal

Nevertheless, the facts speak loud and clear.  

Childline statistic show that  with regard to sexual abuse, nearly 60% of abuse was by a family member and 5% by strangers.

Abused  is most likely to be committed by: 
(Highest percentage  to lowest)

  • Brother or stepbrother
  • Father
  • Uncle
  • Stepfather
  • Cousin
  • Grandfather
  • Mother

Abuse can take many forms:

  • Sexual
  • Physical
  • Mental/emotional
  • Deprivation
  • Slavery
  • Torchure
  • Cults and organised abuse (can include all of the above)
How can we help prevent abuse?

firstly we can come out of denial (the biggest block to tackling abuse) and accept it is a fact, and is the behaviour of some humans (often damaged and abused themselves)
When we can learn to talk about this awful crime  against children. amongst the other adults in this world, we then raise awareness.  Sure, it is horrid to think this is a part of the world we live in...but far worse to bury our heads and hope it isn't happening on our doorstep.

        Talking to children

  • Educate them on parts of their body that are theirs (appropriate to age)
  • Be open about how it is never good to be keeping secrets
  • Very important...let them know they can talk to you about anything
  • Talk to them about letting you know or if they feel upset or scared of what someone does, even if it is family
  • Discuss family rules: no hurting others, scaring others, being made to do things that hurt us or scare us, not to let others look or touch private parts or make you touch theirs.

Yes, this is uncomfortable and difficult for some people but why should it, honest approachable parents have much more chance of helping children grow up safe and with clear boundaries.

Survivors of abuse very often talk about the devastating moment that they tell a family member (often a parent) of the abuse, only to be disbelieved, told off, told not to be silly and other responses that have added to the trauma and hopelessness of their situation.

What do we do if our child tells us things that sound like abuse?

As hard as it is to even consider the implication of what your child might be saying...please listen!

  • A abuser can be charming, manipulating, appear perfectly 'normal', be trusted by others, held in high esteem, be your nearest and dearest.
  • They often use this status as a coat of armour...untouchable (or so they think).
  • if you do nothing else, do not tell your child they are silly or tell them they are lying, or ask them if they are sure.  The fact that they have approached you at all, would have already been traumatic for them, as they try to understand their own feelings and what others will do and say. Ask them (they might not have the words depending on age) what they would like to happen. Do not press for details at this point but try and help them feel safe. Give them time and compassion.
  • Do not confront the alleged abuser at this point ( they may put lots of actions in place to discredit the child). Do however try to keep the child safe. I suggest at this point you obtain help from a reputable organisation that is well equip to support you and your child. You will not be alone, and there are others that can help you.  If you have a trusted family member not related to the abuser, you may wish to talk to them. 
  • If the alleged abuser is indeed one of your other children, as terrible as that might seems, you must get help. Help for both of them! An abuser is also likely to abuse again, and this may end up in a custodial sentence if not tackled in childhood. A child that abuses may be offered help and support, an adult will likely be given prison.
  • The longer the abuse goes on, the more the survivors has to do not go into denial. get help and support for you and your child.

           See helpline link at the bottom of this page for help and support.
Subpages (1): Helplines