WHAT IS SEXUAL ABUSE?
We’ve read the stories. We’ve seen the articles. Some even know other people who have been victims or even rarely, the perpetrators. The Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary defines sexual abuse thus: the activity of having sex or attempting to do so with a child or old person or someone who is mentally ill, against their wishes or without their consent. (Paraphrased)
There are many parts to sexual abuse. It could be violent, taking on the characteristics of rape and other sexual offences. It could be done by deception of the victim. The common thread running through all sexual abuse cases however, is that the abuse is done without the person’s freely given and fully informed consent.
It should be noted that this despicable crime is not committed only by Nigerians/ Africans. It’s a very common problem even in developed countries. The America-based Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) estimate actually that there are 207,754 victims of sexual abuse in the U.S every year. Of this number, 44%, that is, approximately 91,412 people are under 18. The act of sexual abuse is a universally reviled one. But its existence cannot be denied. Proof and victims of it abound everywhere. It is hard to believe and even harder imagining sexual abuse happening to a family member or close acquaintance. But it does happen and quite often in fact.
As the Bible in Jeremiah 17:9 stated: the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, who can know it?
Not all victims of sexual assault and violence are girls. Boys can also be sexually assaulted or raped. In most cases of sexual offences, the initial response is to blame the victim, especially if that victim is female. Anything; her dressing, her appearance, her attitude, will be used as proof/ justification that she, somehow, brought it upon herself. In cases of sexual abuse, particularly in those ones that have very little children as the victims, it is very important not to do this, or, to let anyone else do it to them. Also, please report the perpetrator or if you don’t want to attract undue attention, cut all the person’s communication and access to the child. BUT DO NOT BLAME THE CHILD! This is very essential especially in Nigeria because so many parents here would prefer to beat the children and blame them for the molestation, unwittingly and sometimes, knowingly, allowing the child predator to continue molesting the child.
IT IS NOT THE CHILD’S FAULT.
If no one is ever blamed for getting shot by armed robbers, why should a child be blamed for the actions of a person who is probably older than they are and expected to be more responsible? Why should a young female child, who has not even reached puberty, be beaten because she was sexually assaulted by someone else? In the case of male child victims, do NOT ignore it either or tell them to handle it “like a man”. They are not men, they are children.
The healthy course of action is to pray for the child(male or female), comfort the child(male or female) and let them know that you are there for them and that it was NOT THEIR FAULT, get them counseling and cut all ties with the perpetrator, no matter how close. If you suspect the perpetrator might do it again, warn the parents of the intended victims or best yet, report him/her to the police.
You simply cannot tell a child sexual predator by looking. Approximately 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance. In Nigeria especially, with lesson teachers, house helps, friends and family friends’ e.t.c having close contact with your child, it’s important to trust your instincts and God’s leanings as to the person’s character. Note also, if a child displays a strong continuous dislike of someone, question the child about their relationship with that individual and do not dismiss the answer or the child, immediately. This creates the impression in the child’s mind that you sanction the act.
Pedophilia is a mental disease. It is also very significant to note that most pedophiliacs were unchecked victims of sexual abuse themselves. They usually need mental therapy but while they are getting that, keep them away from your children!
If you discover a paedophiliac or rapist, try to avoid physical confrontation. Instead, report them to the police and then insist they get mental help. Going to the police is the preferable option but life being what it is, and sentimental and emotional attachments being what they are, sometimes there is a need to follow up the police report with an insistence on mental health therapy, treatment for sexual addiction and a reintroduction into the society and an introduction/re-introduction to GOD.
Because GOD said in Isaiah 1:18- “…THOUGH YOUR SINS BE AS SCARLET, I WILL WASH YOU AND THEY SHALL BECOME AS WHITE AS SNOW”
THE NEED FOR SEX EDUCATION AND TIPS FOR PARENTS AND INTENDING PARENTS
In all areas of the world presently, there is a need for in-depth sex education to be given by parents. Every child who has access to a T.V set gets a lot of information about sex before they even turn 10. Unless you prefer that the T.V teach your child proper Christian sex education, there is an undeniable need for proper sex education in families.
N.B- For all the parents/people who believe that sex education causes the child to become wayward, I would like to point out Proverbs 22:6- Train up a child in the way they should go and when they grow up, they will not depart from it. In reality, it is inadequate sex education that causes waywardness.
Proper sex education includes telling the child about sex, defining their sexual organs, reinforcing the fact that no one should be allowed to touch their private parts for any reason (until they get married) and insisting that they come to you if anyone does, no matter how angry you are with them or how angry they are with you.
1) Parents, please teach your children, male and female, and reinforce the teaching at various times, that they are never to take out their anger with anyone, themselves or their circumstances at anyone in a violent or sexual way. Self- control is key. Because judging by recent studies, half the world has already been sexually abused, assaulted or molested in one way or another and if the sexually abused all became sexual abusers, the entire world would soon fall victim to this deadly disease and anarchy would reign.
2) Create an atmosphere of communication. Even when your child confesses urges to you that seem abnormal, do not judge, do not criticize and do not assign blame. Correct, GENTLY REPRIMAND and PRAY like your life depends on it WITH THE CHILD AND FOR THE CHILD.
3) If the assault/abuse or molestation has already occurred, create an atmosphere of healing, stand firm and watch your child carefully.
Keep the child in prayers, get them continuous mental help, no matter how embarrassing it would be for you, reinforce the fact that YOU STILL LOVE THEM and point them in the direction of the ULTIMATE HEALER- JESUS. Ensure, especially in very young children, that the psychologist or psychiatrist reinforces to them that they need to have the self-control not to repay the evil done to them with evil of the same nature, to ANY OTHER PERSON.
4) Still give them chores.
5) KEEP THE ABUSER AWAY FROM THEM!
File a report with the police. If need be, confront the accuser, preferably in a public place. Insist they get mental help but pending recovery or the fully informed, unpressured consent of the child to see them/him/her- KEEP THEM AWAY FROM YOUR CHILDREN.
6) NEVER by your words or actions suggest condonation or blame towards other persons in similar situations.
7) Do not hide the child and do not become bitter yourself. This is vital because the child is watching your actions very carefully and may model himself/ herself after you.
Parenting is a lot of work for everyone and at all times. There is a constant need to balance the needs and wants of the child against yours. In this situation/scenario however, it is very important to put the child’s in precedence. And if you have dealt with this situation before and did it badly, it’s never too late to correct your mistakes. But the children are the future. They need to be protected and prayed for at all times.
MAY THE GOOD LORD HELP YOU.