When we trash-talk the perpetrators of sexual abuse, we may silence survivors
By Carolyn Byers Ruch
Special to ASSIST News Service
HATFIELD, Penn. (ANS) – For many who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse, the past few weeks have been very difficult and have provoked feelings of both anger and sadness as they think back to what they have been through at the hands of perpetrators.
Cover of Carolyn’s book
For those of us who have been shocked by the recent news coverage of sexual abuse cases, these past few weeks have been a struggle as we have attempted to process our thoughts and articulate our feelings regarding such heinous crimes toward children.
I’ve listened to vicious comments toward sexual offenders all week. I’ve even been tempted to utter them myself.
Okay, I’ll admit it. . . I have uttered some of them.
But I pray, I’ve uttered them in private — away from my children — away from my survivor friends.
Why? Because ninety percent of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse were violated by someone they knew, trusted, and loved. Ninety percent of children who are violated are molested by someone they know, trust and love.
It’s complicated and hard to understand. But when we trash talk perpetrators, we run the risk of hurting survivors and silencing children who have been violated.
“How is your client doing?” the reporter asked an attorney who had recently represented a man who had claimed he had been molested as a young boy.
“He feels vindicated, but this was difficult for him,” the attorney responded. “He had to look the man in the face who was his surrogate father and tell the world what this man did to him.”
This attorney did his homework. He understood the delicate fears, emotions, and compassionate heart of his survivor client.
Is it possible that a victim can love and care for their perpetrator? Yes, it is.
When we let our emotions run unleashed from our mouth for all to hear, we may hurt the survivors in our presence. We may keep a child near us — who has been violated — silent.
You see, all the survivors I know are compassionate people and most of them were violated by someone they loved. And children, precious, precious children, are the most forgiving creatures that walk the earth.
Both adult survivors and child survivors know that if they tell, people around them will get hurt. So they keep their mouths shut to protect both the perpetrator and those who also love the perpetrator.
Let us let survivors utter words of hatred and anger toward those who violated them and guard our tongues. We may be hurting those who have already been traumatized and we may be causing a child to keep silent.
We best love adult survivors and help child victims break their silence when we offer healing words and leave the harsh words to those who have the right to say them.
You may ask how I can make these observations, so let me explain.
At the age of four, a hired field-hand attempted to molest me. Miraculously, I got away and told my father everything. I have spent the past ten years championing this issue and listening to survivors’ hearts. I have also received training certificates from some of the leading organizations dedicated to protecting children.
Recently I released “Rise and Shine: A Tool for the Prevention of Childhood Sexual Abuse”, and founded www.RiseAndShineMovement.org, where adults can find my free book and resources to help them protect children from sexual abuse.
So will you join me in protecting the children in your care and share the Rise and Shine Movement with your family and friends? Together we can protect the children of the world.