The Shattering of Innocence
We are living in a nation with a silent epidemic, which I call “The Shattering of Innocence.”
- Each year an estimated 3.3 million children are exposed to violence against their mothers or female caretakers by family members; 50 % who abuse their wives, also abuse their children. In families where the mother is assaulted by the father, daughters are at risk of sexual abuse 6.51 times greater than girls in non-abusive families (Bowker, Arbitell and McFerron, 1988)
For generations, women, girls, boys, and infants, have been sexually assaulted for the instant gratification of someone else’s pleasure. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 1-3 girls, and 1-6 boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. These statistics are from the 10% that did tell, or their perpetrator was caught. 90% still remain in our homes, churches, businesses, organizations, craftsmen skills, etc. Children who are abused do not tell because they fear no one will believe them; they fear being torn from their families; they fear being killed by the perpetrator or harm to their family; or they are told to keep it a secret because the perpetrator is someone they know and love. The sexually assaulted children grow up thinking this is the normal and acceptable way of life for most kids; and it must happen in other classmate’s homes too; thus no one speaks of it.
From the moment the abuse occurs, whether emotional abuse (withholding love or affection, neglect, belittling a child, making them feel they are not worthy for the crumbs off of your feet); physical abuse ( starving a child, hitting or beating a child, making them take cold showers/bathes, drinking hot sauce or their own urine, and eating feces); sexual abuse ( fondling, grooming-where the perpetrator slowly builds his advances until the child is accepting what is happening to them), rape, being pimped out and sold to other molesters, or sold into a sex ring, or an occult. The U.N. estimates 700,000 – 4 million women and children are sold into the human trafficking or sex trade, at a 7 billion dollar lucrative industry; which is on the rise due to economic crisis. In the U.S., over 50,000 women and children were trafficked into the U.S. from 49 other countries; leaving a total of over 750,000 in the last decade. According to ChildHelp USA, 90% of children know their abusers. Five kids die a day at the hand of their abusers; 80% are under the age of 4. Many people do not want to think about this, let alone talk about sexual assault, which is why we have a multi-generational epidemic. So, when will you talk about it? When will it end? I can promise you, we will never eradicate sexual assault and abuse. The best we can do is to unite together to bring change in public policies and change the social stigma of sexual assault. The change will not come fast enough for some; and for others, it will bring hope for them to hold on.
You see the effects sexual assault has on our children, in our communities, because they will act it out. Small children do not have the communication skills to express their emotions, and they act it out through play with dolls and toys, emulating the abuse; through kicking and hitting things and people; by mutilating animals and dolls; some abused children try “cutting” themselves because the pain has made them so numb and dead inside, they want to feel something; some try suicide. The shame, guilt, anger, pain, self loathing, and sadness envelopes them into a pit of darkness; overshadowing even the happiest of times. They continue to live in a hell of having to relive the abuse every day, whether they are still in physical danger or just in their minds. Sexual assault and abused children will never “Just Get Over It”; nor will they ever “Forget it and move on with their lives.” The moment of the “Shattering of Innocence,” will always effect every decision of their life. Children learn to mistrust others, especially authoritative figures; they may become promiscuous, leading to teen pregnancies, STD’s, dropout rates increasing, increasing need for welfare services. Our children are having children that they are not ready for, know how to care for, nor have the maturity or the financial stability to do so. Some abused children try to harm themselves through cutting or suicide. People who are suicidal tend to feel hopeless, helpless, and heartless. They just cannot take the pain and darkness anymore and decide to end the suffering. You will notice them giving away their belongings or getting their affairs in order. Suicide notes are left through letters, emails, text, videos, and music. No matter how many times they “cry wolf”, answer the call because it may be your last time to talk to them. If they are continually talking of suicide, seek out a counselor, clergy, or someone they trust. The more details they have planned the closer they are to actually committing suicide. The suicide hotline phone number is 1.800.784.2833 or 1.800.273.8355, which remains open 24/7, 365 days a year. If you are suicidal, promise to not do anything right now; avoid alcohol and drugs; make your home safe by getting rid of all pills, drugs, alcohol, knives, razors, ropes, cleaners, or anything that you would use to commit suicide; call someone you trust for help or the national suicide crisis hotline, and talk as long as you wish; seek a counselor, police, a doctor, or clergy.
Many sexual assault survivors live what appears to be a normal life, but the abuse is never far from their mind. Not only will they have a hard time trusting anyone, but they may have trouble with intimacy; may be controlling, possessive, or abusive themselves. You probably know someone who has been abused or may live with someone who has. Until the abuse is resolved, they will always have that part of their heart tucked away, and will not be able to truly give all of themselves to the relationship. Don’t call them a liar or say it never happened. Don’t turn your back on them!
Someone who has been falsely accused is usually exonerated from the accusations. The false accusations are just as wrong as an abuser! The damaging accusations impact their jobs, their lives, and their family’s lives. People who have been falsely accused can file civil suit against their accuser for slander and damages to their mental health, and job loss.
Someone who has been sexually assaulted will show signs of age inappropriate sexual behavior; itching; clinging; irritation, inability to focus or concentrate; or fear of someone they know. They may have nightmares, crying spells, afraid to visit the perpetrator, STD’s, tears from penetration, begin to use drugs, isolation, grades dropping, behavioral changes not associated with puberty. If you suspect someone has been abused call 1.800.656.4673 for the National Sexual Abuse Hotline; and 1.800.799.7233 for the National Domestic Abuse Hotline.
If you have been abused, please seek a counselor. Counselors who have been abused may be more empathic, but there are still many knowledgeable counselors who can help you, and walk you through the recovery process.
The change, we hope to see in our country, will come from communities helping communities; and people helping people; and uniting organizations together to rally change for public policies and the social stigma of sexual assault and abuse. Abuse doesn’t just happen in poor, uneducated communities and families, it happens in educated/uneducated, wealthy/impoverished/, religion/ no religion. Pain and suffering does not know color, race, and social economic standing in your community; pain and suffering affects everyone. Many community organizations and nonprofits work diligently on sexual assault prevention, but it is up to you to be the change you wish to see in others and around you. Your choice today becomes your actions tomorrow; your action today becomes your behavior tomorrow; your behavior tomorrow becomes your destiny; so choose your future wisely.
When I was growing up, abuse and sexual assault was your family’s dirty little secret. Secrets keep the whole family sick and keep you in bondage to the abuser. It is time to break the cycle of abuse. Don’t let another generation of abuse be your legacy. Keeping secrets is not progressing a nation forward to success and equality. I know, This Is Not My Generation! We are taking a stand together!
Connie Lee/FACSA Foundation/Founder/President firstname.lastname@example.org (318)540-4464
Critical Phone Numbers
Childhelp’s National Child Abuse Hotline 800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453)
Child Care Aware 1-800-424-2246
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233) TDD 1-800-787-3224
Missing and Exploited Children
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)
National Runaway Switchboard 1-800-621-4000
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
National Human Trafficking Resource Center 1-888-3737-888
RAINN offers an online hotline. Anyone can access help over the internet.
FACSA Foundation (Family and Friends Fighting Against Child Sexual Assault)