Tag Archives: victims of child abuse

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

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!