Studies have shown that only 10% of child molesters are strangers. 90% of all child sexual abuse victims know their abusers. They are often cousins, uncles, aunts, domestic staff, neighbours, fathers and even mothers.
Abusers often target vulnerable children – misfits, children with low self-confidence ,single children, shy children and most especially those with little parental supervision and love. Nevertheless, every child is a target depending on the respective abuser.
This is the period between which the abuser picks his target and the start of the abuse. This period is used to gain the trust of the victim. Remember this is not child rape which is usually a one-off act, it is abuse. The abusers need to ensure that they till the soil for their continual pleasure over a long period of time. The best way to do this is to make the molestation feel good for the victim, thereby confusing the child into blaming his/herself. During this time, the abusers shower the child with money, gifts, compliments and lots of attention to create a bond between them. Once the emotional bond has been established, they move on to establish the physical bond. To do this, they create a situation where they are alone and initiate (Sometimes through “games”) hugs, kiss on the fore head, shoulder massage, back scratching, flashing of the genitals etc. The abuse often starts after this.
The role of the parent
When your child tells you someone touched me, believe them. They wouldn’t tell that kind of lie on such personal issues. Anytime they insist on not going to a particular neighbour’s house, or cringe when a particular uncle tells them to sit on his laps (They shouldn’t even be sitting on anyone’s laps in the first place) be on the alert. Keep your eyes open and lovingly quiz them for more information. Shouting at them to obey is the last thing you should do as that peels off layers of trust they have in you and reduces the chances of them speaking out.
Preventing child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse can only thrive in secrecy and fear. That is the bread, butter, jam and tea, the monster feeds off. Child victims can end the abuse by speaking out. There are various other ways a child can protect his/herself when the abuser strikes: Run, scream till someone hears, Say an affirmative no and inform the abuser that they will tell their parents. If the abuser has them in a tight corner, they can struggle with the abuser, kick the abusers genitals in self defense, to cause imbalance and reflex release, giving them room to run (That is of course if a child can muster this level of courage). Children have different temperaments and may be unable to take most of the actions above. It is the responsibility of the parents to advice children based on their temperaments and also do their best possible to instil confidence and boldness in a child.
Signs of abuse
Here are some behavioural changes that occur in children that have been abused: withdrawal, rebellion, tantrums, bedwetting, nightmares, depression, resists clothing being removed or being showered for, lack of appetite, voracious eating. Children also become overtly affectionate or knowledgeable in a sexually inappropriate way for the child’s age, dressing sexually to attract men, draw sexually explicit pictures, pain in the genitals, among others.
After the abuse
Give the child time to narrate the story properly, it takes time to narrate the story due to the physical, emotional and psychological damage caused by the abuser. Some adults speak up 30 years later…That is how hard the process can be.