Child sexual abuse occurs when a sexual activity is initiated with a minor. The act of child abuse has lasting effects on the victim for years. The perpetrator while abusing a child initiates a crime against him/her. The abuse does not necessarily need to be developed due to a physical contact between the abuser and the child.
Some forms of this sexual abuse can be fondling, exposing the private parts to the minor, intercourse with the minor, obscene digital interaction, sex of any kind, sharing or producing pornographic material of children. Basically, any action by a person that violates a child sexually can come under the ambit of child abuse. Such a behaviour often scars the emotional, physical and mental welfare of a child.
“I remember Araina, my 6-year-old daughter coming up one day. She was crying a lot so I tried inquiring about what had happened. However, she refused to say anything at all. By the evening she had resumed being her jolly self. So I assumed that maybe she had a fight at school or someone was mean to her. That could’ve been the reason she had behaved in that manner. As days passed by there was a dramatic change in her mood. She wouldn’t want to play, wouldn’t let me give her a bath. I remember seeing my happy child go into being one that rarely even smiled.”
“ Araina wouldn’t agree to even go to school. In that week she had changed so much that I couldn’t have identified her as my child. That week she felt sick with high fever. While getting her out for a change of clothes, I was horrified to see bruising around her thighs. The entire area was bruised badly. Upon asking she refused to let me know what had happened. I knew there was something really awful that had taken place. However, I didn’t want to overwhelm her and just let the child be for some time. I got her comfortable then made her favourite food, allowed her to watch a lot of cartoons, read her stories. I spent extra time with her during that period. However, I realized that she was not ready to talk about what happened.”
Often identifying that your little darling has gone through child abuse is very difficult. As these kids have gone through a very difficult time and are often left intimidated by their abusers. The abuser could be someone you’ve known a long time which makes it very difficult for the child to speak up. Often abused children can have bleeding, bruises, or swelling in the genital area. Other behavioural changes could be, refusing to bathe or in certain cases bathing excessively.They could be developing sudden phobias, one of the common behavioural changes that are exhibited is of depression.
“Two weeks after the incident had occurred, I showed Araina a video that talked about right touch and bad touch. It was an informative video, upon seeing it I could sense she had related to the incident that she had gone through. I talked to her and told her that I as her mother would harm if anyone would ever touch her in that manner. Putting stress on the fact that I would trust her and take a stand for her. It was then when she narrated what had happened to her. I was in a state of shock and anger. However, at that point, my child’s well being was far more important than my anger. So I sat her down and comforted her. Gave her an applause for speaking up. I think that helped me in the situation the most. Where she could trust herself around me and knew that I would make it fine. The next few days I took her to a child therapist, while at home giving her a lot of care and support. Going out for fun activities and engaging her in outdoor activities helped her to get forward in her life. I couldn’t understand how emotionally draining this was for her. But as a parent, I felt it was very important for her to clear all the effect the abuse had on her.”
When your child shows signs or opens up to you in terms of abuse that they have faced. It is very important that you respond in the manner that makes them feel protected and cared for. At this point, you need to let go of the emotions that you are experiencing and focus on the course of action. The prime focus needs to be on getting your child out of the circle of abuse. They need extra care and attention at this point in time. Educating them about what happened is also an important thing along with explaining this to them slowly while giving them to heal.
“Abuse manipulates and twists a child’s natural sense of trust and love. Her innocent feelings are belittled or mocked and she learns to ignore her feelings. She can’t afford to feel the full range of feelings in her body while she’s being sexually abused—pain, outrage, hate, vengeance. So she short-circuits them and goes numb. For many children, any expression of feelings, even a single tear, is cause for more severe child abuse. Again, the only recourse is to shut down. Feelings go underground.” ― Laura Davis, Allies in Healing: When the Person You Love Is a Survivor of Child Abuse. Hence the acceptance of these feelings that the child might be feeling while validating them is very important. So that their core values can be again built in a healthier manner. As parents, it’s very important to be present and acknowledge the child’s feelings.”