Category Archives: Abuse victims

Secondary Survivors of Sexual Abuse

secondary survivors of sexual abuse

A secondary survivor refers to the family, friend or partner of an abused person. The situation is of course difficult for the victim of sexual abuse, but the pain extends to his or her loved ones too. The support of the secondary survivors is very much important to the recovery of the victim; it makes the victim feel that they are still cared for despite of what happened to them.

A victim of sexual abuse normally feels afraid and hesitant; he or she may lose self-confidence and often falls into depression if he or she doesn’t get the necessary help after the assault took place. For secondary survivors, knowing that someone they deeply care about has gone through a very hurtful experience is also heartbreaking. There are times that they also struggle with the feeling of helplessness after the incident; they do not know how to respond to the situation and whom to seek help for.

It is truly difficult to know the right things to say to comfort your family or friend who was victimized by sexual assault. However, your compassionate and validating responses can really do a lot for their recovery. It’s fairly alright to not have all the answers for them; just being there by their side with no judgment is already a wonderful support to the victim.

Sexually abused victims lose their ‘power’ of self because of their traumatic experience; as a secondary survivor, you may help them gain control of what happens next by letting them make their own decisions. It could start with letting them choose whom they talk to and what legal actions they want to take.

Sexual abuse is a serious crime against anyone; you have to be extra understanding and patient with the victim because they have lost their sense of almost everything – strength, power, safety, trust and so on…

What You Should Do if the Abuse Happened in the Past Few Days

Advise your family or friend to immediately undergo a physical examination to help the authorities gather evidence against the perpetrator. Health services also provide medications to help prevent infections and diseases caused by the sexual abuse.

What You Should Do If the Victim Feels Unsafe

Victims of sexual abuse normally feel physically and emotionally unsafe after they have been assaulted… If you are dealing with a worse case such as he or she is becoming suicidal or at the risk of hurting others, then you should contact the authorities right away. But if they are not in immediate danger, help them make changes in their surroundings that will make them feel safer. If they want to change the color of the walls, then do so! Do whatever you can to foster a safer environment for your loved one and always remember that there are support groups available to help you along the way. Encourage your loved one to speak about things that will make him or her feel safer and unthreatened.

Recognize the Tactics of Perpetrators

Most sexual abuse cases remain to be unreported because the victims are afraid or threatened; if you’re dealing with a loved one, who shows the same signs, consider seeking the help of professionals. It’s quite difficult to identify a person who would commit a sexual assault because they could be anyone! They are located in all parts of the world and usually ‘mask’ their real personas to be able to commit more than one sexual assault. These people are indeed dangerous! They may seem friendly and charismatic but can be a totally different person behind closed doors.

The following are examples of the common tactics that sexually abusive persons may use or do:

  • They usually establish trust with their potential victim; this is a part of their planning and preparation for what they really intend to do
  • They are good in assessing a person’s vulnerability, this is how they choose their victims
  • They only used the necessary amount of force to succeed with their plan; body weight is usually enough
  • They may use alcohol or drugs to increase the vulnerability of their victims
  • Perpetrators usually deny the crime that they’ve committed by claiming that the assault was consensual

Battered Child Syndrome

battered child syndrome

The battered child syndrome is a form of child abuse. It is a clinical condition in young children who have experienced severe physical abuse, which often leads to permanent injuries or death. The perpetrator could be anyone – it could be a parent, guardian, relative, neighbor or even a total stranger.

The battered child syndrome should be considered on any child that evidently shows signs of bone fracture, subdural hematoma, failure to thrive, swellings of soft tissues and/or bruising. It should be considered to any child who has developed a degree of trauma due to variance and occurrence of abuse; it should be considered to any child who had died because of child abuse.

Psychiatric factors of battered child syndrome play an important in the pathogenesis of the disorder. Physicians who evaluate abused children are required to conduct a full assessment of the situation and guarantee that the repetition of such traumatic experience will never be allowed.

Battered Children Cases

Keanu Williams. Keanu was a 2-year old child who died in the hands of his ‘monster’ mother who is now paying for her crime in jail today. The toddler suffered from 37 different injuries that included bite marks, a fractured skull and a fist-sized tear in the stomach… he was definitely beaten to death. A post-mortem examination showed that he was repeated hit by a stick or rod which caused him to die from internal bleeding. The judge found Keanu’s mother, Rebecca Shuttleworth, guilty of four counts of child cruelty. ‘He was a defenseless child and it was your duty to protect him. Instead you beat him so severely he died a lingering death from his injuries a day or so later. You have also been convicted of cruelty by failing to summon the medical aid he so badly needed.’ These are just some of the statements that Mr. Justice Spencer told Rebecca Shuttleworth. He even added a tribute to the child by saying, ‘He was a delightful little boy described as a real character, a little entertainer who remained cheerful despite everything.’ It is truly unimaginable what Keanu Williams had to suffer from the outburst of violence of his own mother.

Lauren Kavanaugh. This young girl was tortured beyond imagination by her mother and stepfather. She was given back to her birth mother when she was 20-month old and from then on, she suffered 6 years of torture and starvation. She became known as ‘the girl in the closet’; locked away for so long in the back room of a mobile home. When she was rescued in the year 2001, she only weighed 25.6 pounds at 8 years old. The doctors at Children’s Medical Center Dallas said that she was damaged in ways that they have never seen. She had suffered from extreme depression and developed bipolar disorder… She had undergone all the necessary treatments – years of psychotherapy and hundreds of doctors’ visits. Lauren had indeed suffered a case of extreme child abuse and it is expected that she will have lifelong of emotional problems, long nights of tears and terror, fits of rage… She has suffered a great deal, losing her six key years of growth and development… She does not know her ABC’s, she wasn’t potty-trained, she doesn’t know how to hold a pencil and she doesn’t even know what it’s like to be in the sun. Fortunately, today, Lauren is surviving and thriving… With the help of her treatments and support from her loving adoptive parents, Sabrina and Bill Kavanaugh, Lauren is now talking more, eager to exercise and she shows more interest in learning new things.

Terrell Peterson. He was a 5-year old boy who lived in Atlanta Georgia who was beaten to death. Terrell only weighed 29 pounds and his body was full of cuts, bruises and burns when the authorities recovered his body. His mother was taking drugs while she was pregnant. Terrell’s parents would lock him up in a bedroom during weekends and denied him food. The complaints against his mother led social caseworkers to place Terrell and his siblings, who were also abused in the same way Terrell was, with their blood relatives. However, Terrell was not able to go with his siblings, he was left in the custody of Pharina Peterson – the grandmother of his half-siblings. Another child living in the home of Peterson said that Terrell was tied up often and his nourishment was a far cry from being proper. He was also allegedly burned by Peterson for telling the authorities about her abusive acts; one of Terrell’s teachers in school noticed he wasn’t walking right and inspected his feet only to find that they were burned to the point that it needed skin grafts. The authorities arrested Pharina Peterson and she was indicted on misdemeanor charges.

Stop School Bullying

school bullying

What is School Bullying?

This type of bullying takes place in an educational setting; it takes different forms such as physical, sexual, verbal or emotional. The following are various definitions of school bullying:

  • The intention to harm which means the act is done deliberately and not accidental.
  • Bullying causes the victim to experience distress; he or she can suffer from mild to severe psychological, social and/or physical trauma.
  • Bullying is repetitive; it has the possibility to happen more than once.
  • It involves inequity wherein the bully claims or believes that he or she has more ‘power’ than the victim.
  • It is confrontational and involves aggressive behaviors.

 

Victims and Bullies

School bullying is a common social problem in schools and other educational establishments today. Based on a research conducted by the American Psychological Association, up to 80% of the students may experience bullying at one point in during their education.

School bullying can happen to anyone! This is regardless of age, gender, religion, socioeconomic standing and grade level. However, children who come from a lower socioeconomic background are more prone to bullying than those who come from well-off households.

Moreover, the rate of bullying is significantly higher with homosexual students than heterosexual students. Some even experience an ‘extension’ to school bullying as they continue to be harassed online through aggressive emails and instant messages. A survey done in the year 2013 shows that 20% of the high school students in the US are bullied in school, 15% are harassed online while 8% of students who are between the age of 12 and 18 are continuously bullied every week.

Research suggests that bullies are individuals who experience aggression or violence at home; they are usually people who are diagnosed with depression, anxiety or ADHD. School-aged bullies are said to have a mental health disorder and poor theory of mind. They are usually morally disengaged and are inclined to using egocentric reasoning strategies.

 

Effects of School Bullying

Some people think that bullying is a phase in life that everyone naturally goes through. However, this reasoning doesn’t justify the fact that this abusive act can cause severe damage to the victims. Some children do not accept school bullying and they stand up for themselves, while others are not brave enough and they end up unhappy and afraid. School bullying can affect both the victim and the bully:

Victims

  • They may suffer from mild to severe physical and/or mental health problems.
  • They may become depressed and anxious; they may suffer from sleeping and eating disorders and refuse to participate in daily activities.
  • They may lose interest in school and begin to perform poorly in academic activities; some even end up dropping out of school.
  • A number of reports have shown that school bullying can lead victims to commit suicide or retaliate even to the point of killing their bullies.

Bullies

  • They may develop alcohol and drug problems.
  • They may engage in fights, vandalism and other destructive activities.
  • Some may also drop-out from school.
  • They may engage in sexual activities at an early age and end up getting sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Bullies tend to become abusive toward their partners and children.

Types of Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is any violent or aggressive behavior that takes place within the home; it typically involves abusive behavior toward a spouse or a partner. It can take place in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship that may also extend to the children.

Domestic violence can affect men, women and children but the wife or female partner is more often victimized with such abuse. Some countries, especially those that have witnessed women committing acts of infidelity, consider domestic violence as a justifiable act and may even be codified into law.

This abusive act takes many forms – physical abuse, emotional abuse, spiritual abuse, sexual abuse and verbal abuse. Common examples of domestic violence are marital rape, female genital mutilation, battering and disfigurement. The presence of domestic murders is also prevalent in some areas of the world and it includes bride burning, dowry deaths and stoning.

Different Forms of Domestic Violence

Physical Abuse. This involves physical contact that is intended to cause physical pain, suffering or injury to the victim. The abuser uses force such as hitting, shoving, grabbing, biting, shaking, choking and/or forcing drug or alcohol use. Some perpetrators may even make use of harmful weapons such as a gun or knife. Physical abuse may not result in an injury that requires immediate medical attention, which results to the incident being unreported.

Sexual Abuse. This type of domestic violence involves forcing the victim to have unwanted sexual interaction with the abuser. The perpetrator may conduct unwelcome sexual comments or advances that cause the victim to feel uncomfortable. It may also come in the form of attack against a person’s sexuality through coercion or sexual traffic such as obligatory inspections for virginity or female genital mutilation. During sexual abuse, a victim’s bodily integrity is violated; some of the most common examples of this domestic violence are rape, prostitution, human trafficking and demeaning sexual acts. Moreover, any act that limits a woman’s reproductive rights is also considered as sexual abuse in some countries. Preventing to use contraceptive methods and forcing abortion are considered illegal by some laws.

Psychological Abuse. This is interchangeably referred to as emotional abuse; it is characterized by intimidation, threats and even isolation. Abusers often instill fear to their partners through menacing behavior that may lead to damages in property, constant supervision or controlling behavior that hinders the victim from enjoying his or her freedom. Perpetrators may also threat their victims with injury or perhaps harm the victim’s family or loved ones; they may tell the victim that they will be killed if they try to leave the relationship. Some abusers also isolate their victims from other people; controlling the people whom the victim can interact with. They may also ‘damage’ their victims’ self-esteem through constant criticism, name-calling and other emotionally abusive acts.

Economic Abuse. The abuser makes or attempts to make the victim financially dependent on him or her. His or her intimate partner prohibits the victim from working or getting further education. The victim also may experience extreme controlling behavior by the partner with their financial matters. In some cases, the abuser exploits the economic resources of the victim leaving the latter empty handed. The main motive of economic abusers is to incapacitate their intimate partners from the ability to support oneself; diminishing the victim’s ability to acquire resources and assets. If you are forced to sign documents or sell things, then you are also suffering from economic abuse. Victims of this type of abuse are usually individuals who lack knowledge and education; some mothers and children in India suffer from malnutrition because the father withholds their access to food and other resources.

Sex Slavery

sex slavery

What is Sex Slavery?

Its purpose is to sexually exploit the victim. Sex slavery comes in the form of single-owner sexual slavery, ritual slavery, forced prostitution and non-sexual purposes that involves non-consensual sexual activities. Back in the days, concubinage was the most prevalent form of sexual slavery and it still goes on in some cultures today – women are forced to live their lives in sexual servitude.

Sexual slavery is a form of enslavement as it limits a person’s autonomy, freedom and power to decide – especially matters that involve sexual activities. There are various types of sex slavery including forced marriages, domestic servitude and forced labor that includes sexual activities. Sex slavery constitutes a continuing offense because it involves practices that treat women as servants and thus, violate laws that prohibit slavery.

Confessions of a Sex Slavery Victim

‘I can never forget my past or the cruelty of those men. I’ll never understand it.’

Sreypov Chan is a young Cambodian woman who suffered from sex slavery when she was a young girl… At 7 years old, when most young girls are invited to slumber parties, she was sold to a brothel in Phnom Penh to work as a sex slave. What made her situation worse is that her own mother made the sale. For many years, pimps would force her to have sex with at least 20 men in a day… if she refused or try to run away, Sreypov was punished – burned with a hot poker, covered with biting insects and every unthinkable punishment there is.

Sreypov luckily escaped the brothels when she turned 10; she was able to start a new life and is now ready to talk about her story. Sadly, she is not the only one who has suffered and is continuously suffering from sex slavery today… There are more than 12 million individuals who are victims of forced prostitution and labor around the world.

‘My whole identity was robbed. Unless you’ve been in that position, you can’t understand.’

Meghan Stephens (not her real name) has suffered a similar fate as Sreypov Chan. When she was 14, she fell in love with a man who turned out to be a pimp… Her boyfriend sold her to different men for 6 years. She is now 25 years old and living a life with her true identity revealed in fear that her past will be discovered. When Meghan was being trafficked, she was forced to have sex with multiple partners in a single day. Her boyfriend made her believe that escort work is the only way to raise enough money for them to be together. Meghan grew up in a troublesome household, her parents divorced when she was 4 and her mother was an alcoholic. That is why her mother permitted Meghan to live with her boyfriend. Meghan depended on her boyfriend for everything – she was innocent, in love and very reliant. Meghan lost her confidence which made it even more impossible for her to leave her boyfriend and the life that she lived with him. Her boyfriend also threatened to kill her mother if Meghan would try to leave or escape… Meghan even recalled one particular night when she had sex with 110 men before being violently sick. The owner of the brothel had to close for the night and back then, she thought that the owner was really nice to do that. It only shows that Meghan was really not in the right frame of mind at the time. She felt helpless and she did not want to put her mom in danger so she continued with what she was doing.

Kathleen Frank. She was abused by her father at the age of 10 years old. At least that is the age she woke up to it; Kathleen’s father abused her while she was sleeping.  But later in her years Kathleen started getting flash backs of times when her father was ‘too close’ and certain touches were uncomfortable for her. Shortly after Kathleen realized she was being abused, she became this target of others who also abused her, such as her great grandfather, cousins and her brother. Kathleen told her mother, but her mother refused to believe her.  Perhaps her mother did believe Kathleen but was in denial, in any case Kathleen did not get the protection she needed and felt she had to find ways to protect herself. This is when Kathleen became assertive in her attitude, angry with her abusers, and eventually developed the mind set that the only way someone will love her is to give them what they want. This attitude caused Kathleen to turn toward young men of at least 8 to 20 years older than her for attention and love them in the wrong way. Kathleen had a warped perspective on what love was, and it wasn’t until she was in her later 30’s when she realized how much she needed help. Kathleen sough help; she sought God, it was her way to get a right perspective on love and to know the unconditional love of Christ. Kathleen started journaling her feelings and revelations of her healing process. After 10 years of writing her thoughts, her fears, her healing, Kathleen published her journals in her recent book, ‘I’m Fat and Nobody Cares’. Kathleen’s book tells the world her story in detail in hopes to help others who have had similar experiences. Kathleen was able to receive complete healing of her abuse through her writings and her book has helped thousands of abused women and girls receive healing too.

Defense for Battered Women

defense for battered women

Defense for battered women is used in court for a woman accused of assaulting or murdering her husband or partner because of abuse. There is no medical classification that supports the existence of such ‘syndrome’ but it is still used by lawyers in court to defend the actions of women who have suffered from domestic violence.

Defense for battered women is also commonly referred to as ‘self-defense’; it is a woman’s response to her husband or partner’s abusive act. Due to suffering from constant and severe domestic violence, some women undergo depression and a feeling of helplessness. They are unable to take independent action to escape the abusive acts and they develop fears with regard to social support, financial means and many more.

Battered women also suffer from low self-esteem; they are often led to believe that the abuse is their fault. They develop misplaced feelings and therefore refuse to press charges against their abusive partners. Victims of abuse usually develop psychological disorders that may lead them to kill or harm their abuser. Although there is no medical proof for this that may excuse the alleged offenders, it is still used as a defense for battered women in court.

Defense for Battered Women: Kill or Be Killed

Women who are victims of abuse are usually faced with a difficult choice; killing their husbands/partner to save themselves. Killing their abuser is not usually planned – it is a woman’s last attempt to save herself. However, a woman who kills her abuser is not excused by the law. Their act is not seen as ‘self-defense’, they are usually charged with murder or manslaughter. The main reason behind this is that judges and juries don’t deem most acts of violence as life-threatening.

Killing is a last resort of defense for battered women; it is a defensive move that anyone suffering from domestic violence sees as an ‘escape’ from their situation. Women who kill their abusers are driven to do such action because they felt that their lives were on the line. They have all the right to feel scared as nearly 4,000 women die in the hands of their abusers every year.

The Story of Caroline Scott

She suffered excessive physical violence from the hands of Arthur Lee. One night, Arthur came home drunk from alcohol and a jealous rage. He told Caroline to put on her handcuffs – the precursor of severe beatings that became worst over time. Caroline has children and she had difficulty figuring out how to leave the house without leaving them behind. She overheard Arthur telling someone over the phone ‘she would be gone in 45 minutes’. Fearful of what may happen to her, she immediately grabbed one of her husband’s guns and shot him to death. But because Arthur wasn’t directly beating her when the shooting happened, Caroline was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison.

The Story of Jane Churn

Jane ignored her lover’s question which led James to call her abusive names. James also struck her a couple of times and they both fell on the floor when Jane tried to fight back. She then stood up and grabbed a fork from the table which she used to stab James to death. Because she was still brimming with anger, she still hit her already dead lover with a fireplace poker. She was charged with manslaughter and served her time in prison.

However there have been cases when a battered woman gets away with her crime when defense attorney convinces the jury the woman was driven to insanity as in the following case:

The Story of John and Lorena Bobbitt

This couple’s relationship made worldwide headlines in 1993 when Lorena cut off her husband’s penis with a knife while he was asleep in bed. The penis was subsequently surgically reattached. Lorena testified that John had raped her and physically battered her on multiple occasions prior to the evening of the severing of his penis, that they lacked financial stability, and that he stole and spent her earnings. Both the prosecution and defense sides conceded that John had demonstrated a history of abuse toward Lorena, and that this abuse created a context for the assault. The defense strategy emphasized her action as being a mix of self-defense and temporary insanity constituting an “irresistible impulse” due to the history and pattern of abuse and rape. After seven hours of deliberation, the jury found Lorena not guilty due insanity causing an irresistible impulse to sexually wound her husband. As a result, Lorena could not be held liable for her actions.  Under Virginia state law, the judge ordered Lorena to undergo a 45-day evaluation period at Central State Hospital, after which she would be released.

Women who are victims of domestic violence tend to fight back with whatever weapon is available to them. As a defense of battered women against their abusers, most of them use guns. The reason why women choose this weapon among others is that they do not have to be too close to their abuser; they can stop the violence even if the abuser is far away. Also, it doesn’t require upper body strength to fight back like other weapons such as knife or poker.

Break the Silence for the Victims of Child Abuse

victims of child abuse

‘Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.’ – Thomas Jefferson 

Many victims of child abuse keep their suffering a secret because they feel ashamed and afraid… most of them continue to suffer long after they have survived their abusive experience. They have terrifying nightmares that make them wake up shaking and disoriented in the middle of the night. They live in constant fear that their past may become reality again.

Victims of child abuse may continue to live that way if no one will help them ‘break the silence’! Erin Merryn is just one of the many survivors of child sexual abuse; she is responsible for the legislation of Erin’s law – this requires public schools to educate students about sexual abuse prevention. Erin’s goal is to encourage other victims of child abuse to speak up….to break their silence!

The force behind Erin’s law has helped others to come out and speak up about their abusive experiences… here are some of the stories of people who are just like Erin Merryn.

The Story of Ter-rae Lee

Ter-rae Lee is a survivor of child sexual abuse; she had been abused by her own father from ages 11 to 13. An article that she read from Seventeen Magazine encouraged her to speak up about her experience and tell her mother. Through the help of RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network), she began her recovery and was able to gain a confession from her father. Today, her father is serving time in prison – which makes Ter-rae feel safe after a long, long time. Ter-rae wants to encourage other victims of child abuse to break their silence and obtain justice for their abusive experience; ‘When you tell your story, you will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. There’s always light after the dark, and one day you might be able to help someone by talking about what happened.’

The Story of David Moody

David Moody is one of the victims of child abuse; it took him a while before he spoke up about his abusive experience. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety before he decided to tell his wife about the male babysitter who molested him when he was 9 to 10 years old. After getting the counseling that he needed, David is now comfortable talking about his experience. ‘I was like a pressure cooker that had a valve released. I didn’t know how tight I had been wound up until I said the words out loud’. Today, David wants to help others learn about child sexual abuse and encourage survivors to share their experience. ‘It is an emotional freedom, to finally know that it was not my fault; that I am strong and that I deserve to be happy. It is a clearness like nothing I have ever experienced until now’.

The Story of Kathleen Frank

Kathleen Frank was abused by her father at the age of 10 years old. At least that is the age she woke up to it; Kathleen’s father abused her while she was sleeping.  But later in her years Kathleen started getting flash backs of times when her father was ‘too close’ and certain touches were uncomfortable for her. Shortly after Kathleen was realized she was being abused, she became this target of others who also abused her, such as her great grandfather, cousins and her brother. Kathleen told her mother, but her mother refused to believe her.  Perhaps her mother did believe Kathleen but was in denial, in any case Kathleen did not get the protection she needed and felt she had to find ways to protect herself. This is when Kathleen became assertive in her attitude, angry with her abusers, and eventually developed the mind set that the only way someone will love her is to give them what they want. This attitude caused Kathleen to turn toward young men of at least 8 to 20 years older than her for attention and love in the wrong way. Kathleen had a warped perspective on what love was, and it wasn’t until she was in her later 30’s when she realized how much she needed help. Kathleen sought help, she sought God, it was her way to get a right perspective on love and to know the unconditional love of Christ. Kathleen’s started journaling her feelings and her revelations of the healing process. After 10 years of writing her thoughts, her fears, her healing, Kathleen published her journals in her recent book, ‘I’m Fat and Nobody Cares’. Kathleen’s book tells the world her story in detail in hopes to help others who have had similar experiences. Kathleen was able to receive complete healing of her abuse through her writings and her book has helped thousands of abused women and girls receive healing too.

 

Be the Voice of Victims of Child Abuse

According to surveys, about one in ten children suffer from child sexual abuse before they turn 18. In order to help put a stop to this social problem, you must ‘be the voice’ of victims of child abuse. You can do this by helping promote education, awareness and advance the conversation about this issue. Get in touch with abuse prevention organizations in your area, especially if you know someone who is suffering from child sexual abuse.

By simply speaking up, you can help save the life of a child abuse victim; offer useful information about where people can turn to for help if needed. Help empower people and organizations to prevent child sexual abuse all over the world; help create a safe environment for children where abuse does not exist. If you make it one of your priorities to help, nothing is impossible!

What is Incest?

incest

Incest is defined as having a sexual relationship with people who are too closely related to you – by law, you are not allowed to marry these people; it is the serious crime having sexual acts with a parent, child, sibling or grandchild. About 23 percent of all sexual abuse cases in the world are incest and the most commonly reported involves a father-daughter relationship.

Sexual contact typically does not happen when the daughter is still young; intercourse usually takes place when the child is past 12. According to reports, alcohol is one of the biggest factors behind these sexual abuse cases – about 20 to 50 percent of abusive fathers are alcoholics.

Cases of brother-sister incest are also very common; it usually happens within families that suffer from serious problems. Healthy and happy families exhibit affection with each other. However, it should be remembered that affection is very different from ‘sexual stimulation’.

What is Incest Taboo?

This cultural taboo is prevalent in today’s society and many past societies. Modern societies have already established laws and restrictions against closely consanguineous marriages (related by blood). Some societies even extend the taboo to people who are not related by blood such as milk-siblings, step siblings and adoptive siblings; relationships between third-degree relatives such as half-aunt and first cousin, are also viewed differently in some cultures – most cultures discourage it.

The most common reason behind incest taboo is the impact inbreeding has on the offspring of incestuous relationships. Close genetic relationships usually produce children who have high risk of congenital disorder, disability and even death. Unintended incest sexual relationship may also occur because of sperm donation, surrogacy and adoption – people are uncertain or clueless about their biological relationship to others.

Types of Incest

  • Between an adult and a child. This is considered as child sexual abuse and is the most commonly reported case of incest. However, the prevalence of this type is quite difficult to assess because most victims keep it as a secret. Moreover, reports show that this form of child abuse is more likely to happen between stepfather and daughter as compared to biological father and daughter. Some of the most ‘common features’ that lead to the occurrence of incest include extreme paternal dominance, reassignment of mother responsibilities to the daughter and an estrange relationship between mother and daughter.
  • Between consenting adults. The most common reason for this occurrence is the ‘genetic sexual attraction’ between the two adults. Although not so many cases of this incest have been reported, some evidences point to its occurrence; technological advances such as chat rooms and other websites have fostered the occurrence of incestuous relationships today.
  • Cousin relationships. Marriages and sexual relationships that occur between first cousins are tolerated in some areas of the world. However, it is still considered as incest and is strongly discouraged by many cultures. Although the occurrence is very rare, it is indeed present in some communities – in Pakistan, marriages between cousins are encouraged to ensure the purity of descent line and that patrimony will not pass into ‘outsiders’.
  • Aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. In some cultures, marriages among aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews are considered legal. However, in the case of the Dutch, they must seek the consent of the Dutch government first because of the risk of inbreeding defects. Consensual intercourse between adults is tolerated in Netherlands and Belgium but is seriously punished in the US such as in Florida and other US States.

Common Reasons Behind Molestation

child molestation

What is Molestation?

The legal definition of molestation is the crime of sexual acts with children up to the age of eighteen. Sexual acts include the touching of private parts, taking pornographic photos and forced exposure of the genitalia. Pedophiles may perform a variation of the following acts to their victims and such sexual acts may also occur as incest – when a relative abuses a younger or minor member of the family. Molestation is any unwelcome sexual act that fall short of rape.

What Causes Someone to Molest?

It has been an ongoing issue to find out the reasons why someone can possibly molest a child. The following are four broad categories that may classify an abuser:

  1. Abusers are children or teenagers who are sexually misguided and may result to experimenting. Children who reach puberty become sexually curious and they usually lure much younger children to take off their clothes just to satisfy their curiosity. Although most teenage experimenters, as they grow older, stop their sexual interactions with children, some are further misguided and turn into pedophiles.
  1. Abusers may have a medical or mental condition that needs proper treatment. Some sexual abusers suffer from mental disability and/or brain disorder which lead them to sexually touch children. Their family members must have a close eye on them in order to prevent molestation from taking place; they should also take their medications, if there are any, to stop child abusers from this group with what they are doing.
  1. Many abusers have antisocial disorder; they lack feelings and would like to inflict pain on others – Opportunists. Antisocial individuals are people who feel that the rules of society do not apply to them. These individuals are actively social and may even have lots of friends, but they always break many of society’s rules. They lack feelings for others and live with the belief that everyone around them exists to be used, including children. Child abusers that belong in this group are often involved in the most terrifying situations that you witness on television and the news.
  1. Abusers have an ongoing sex drive that is directed toward children. Child abusers who belong in this group are commonly referred to as pedophiles. Only a sex-specific physician or therapist can identify this ongoing sex drive among people who have pedophilia disorder. Sex drive that is directed toward children may be corrected by sex-specific therapies and medication. But according to researches, only 87 percent of such treatments are effective. People who are diagnosed with pedophilia disorder have the following traits:
  • Pedophiles are sexually aroused and have intense, recurring sexual fantasies that involve children (13 years and younger).
  • Pedophiles are aroused by or have sexual fantasies including a child for at least 6 months.
  • Pedophiles are 16 years of age an older.
  • Pedophiles are 5+ years older than his or her victim.

 

Daniel is an ideal example of someone who has pedophilia disorder; he has been molesting children for over 26 years. He is past 16 years old and he’s been having sexual desires toward children that are 5 years younger than him. His first victim was his stepsister, Chloe, a 10 year old girl. He was 13 years old when he started having sexual fantasies that involve young girls. He also started to develop a sexual desire for Chloe when she came to visit one weekend every month. Daniel’s fantasies continued until he was 17, when he first molested Chloe.

Sadly there are many Daniels in this world, and many of them are never caught because their victims never tell. The victims keep their silence in fear and shame; they grow up never getting the help they need to overcome their trauma.

Starting Over From A Shattered Life

shattered life

‘God promises to make something good out of the storms that bring devastation to your life’ – Romans 8:28

 

This is a story of Cindy… She had to start over from a shattered life that was caused by a myriad of problems. Cindy suffered from a major breakdown around twelve years ago… she lost at least eight loved ones in just one year; her mother died, she lost her kids in a parasailing accident and her dad was suffering from bone cancer. Everything that was happening in Cindy’s life at that time made her feel lost and shattered.

Cindy felt frightened and confused. She was on the brink of suffering from extreme depression and she felt that her life no longer had a purpose. She did not know how she was going to move forward… after facing so much lost, she just wanted to wallow in her grief and she allowed her pain overtake her.

Until one day, she realized that her suffering could do two things to her: propel her toward hope or lead her to complete destruction. Cindy knew the choice was in her hands… with God as her companion, Cindy chose to use her pain and turn it around for her good. She wasn’t a superhero, she just realized that life has opportunities there is good to come from bad and it shouldn’t be wasted.

Many of us may find ourselves relating to Cindy’s story; anyone who ever felt that their dreams are shattered and that their expectations are unmet will understand what Cindy went through. And when our lives feel like it’s out of control, it is difficult to look on the bright side – we are unable to see the bigger picture that God has in store for us.

Four Tips for Recovering From a Shattered Life

  • Everything happens for a reason. Everything that happens in our life is perceived in the meaning that we choose to give it; it is up to us to make an event either empowering or the other way around. It is our job to seek the lesson in every incident and learn from it. Life’s issues are a test, we can choose to pass it or fail it. When we pass the test is when we have a testimony!
  • Pain is inevitable, but to wallow in it is a choice. Suffering is a choice. Nothing lasts forever, including our pain. There is nothing wrong in experiencing our pain – what’s wrong is that if we choose to live with it forever. We must move on and avoid creating unnecessary mental anguish around every situation that we encounter.
  • Live in the current moment and deal with it. The current moment in our lives is the only moment that we need to deal with. It is our reality and we owe it our full attention. Once that reality is over, we need to move on to the next phase and work on becoming the person that we see ourselves to be.
  • Take one day at a time. Life is beautiful – it is the greatest gift that God has given to us and we shouldn’t waste it. Go outside and breathe the fresh air, laugh out loud with your friends, eat nourishing food and spend quality time with your loved ones. Do everything that you can today and avoid procrastination. Being in pain may hurt much that often one fails to appreciate the simple joys of life, but if you live one day at a time then you can find your way slowly moving on again.

Investing In Something Meaningful

Getting hurt is something that may be difficult to move on from… but it is not impossible! Suffering from a tragic experience can be turned into something redemptive. Cindy used her experience to help others by becoming a therapist, John Walsh created the television show ‘America’s Most Wanted’ after his son was abducted to help law enforcement agencies catch criminals, Kathy Sisk who was repeatedly molested; starting with her father, is a world-renowned speaker and author who carries God’s message of forgiveness, acceptance and love through her writings.

Give yourself time to heal. Do not be in a rush to move on from your pain or adversity – do not minimize your healing process. However, when the right time comes you have to recognize it; appreciate the opportunities that lie ahead of your life. Always remember that your story isn’t finished yet!