My first YA novel, Lies That Bind: Kaedyn’s Story, was written to take a step toward shedding light on child and teen sexual abuse, among other things. So today, I would like to talk a little about this dreaded topic.
Please don’t click that ‘X’ or navigate away from the page just yet. I promise not to get graphic. I just want to throw some things out there, in the hope that people will help spread the word and make the public a little more aware. The more that we can take opportunities to educate the public, the more we can hope to combat the horrors that many children face on a daily basis.
I had trouble deciding where to start with this one. Even given the fact that I want to start with statistics, there are SO many, all of them troubling. I’m just going to jump in feet first, and take it from there.
The Victims and Abusers
According to one study, 33% of girls and 20% of boys will be sexually abused by the age of 18. 90% of these abuse victims know their abuser; 68% are related to their abuser. (https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-child-abuse). The majority of the abusers are male, with 14% of perpetrators against boys and 6% of perpetrators against girls, being female. (http://www.victimsofcrime.org/media/reporting-on-child-sexual-abuse/statistics-on-perpetrators-of-csa)
Every day, these children face a hell on earth that no person should ever have to know, let alone a defenseless innocent. Even when a child faces a single instance of abuse, the effects can be long-lasting; children who are abused on a recurring basis are at much greater risk of PTSD, mental health issues, and long-term health concerns, not to mention a host of behavioral problems as teens and young adults, and the inability to form healthy, lasting relationships even as adults.
What Can I Do?
Watch your children closely. Watch their behavior and reactions around others, particularly close family friends and family members. Children often tell us more through their actions and reactions than through their words. Watch how your children interact with their toys and with other children. Yes, some behavior is “typical” in child development, but it can also be a sign of underlying abuse.
Watch for sudden behavior changes; i.e. unusual outbursts of anger or meltdowns with minimal or nonexistent triggers, fear of certain people or places, insecurity or changes in attachment. Find a more comprehensive list, as well as additional resources HERE.
This website also has some excellent resources and information.
What else can you do? Share this blog post and other resources to help bring awareness to childhood sexual abuse. Share Lies That Bind: Kaedyn’s Story and other similar literature to help promote awareness and to let victims know they aren’t alone. You never know who will be touched by any article or novel you share. Other good novels on the subject of child and teen sexual abuse are Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Aimee by Mary Beth Miller, and Identical by Ellen Hopkins. To be honest, finding well-written and well-informed fiction on the subject is difficult. I personally believe the world needs more literature that addresses it, both for the victims and for the blissfully unaware.
I hope through this post you learned something, even if it was the knowledge that as a victim, you are not alone. No matter what place this information has in your life, please share and help grow the awareness.