Three stories are on the CTV site just now. ((Scout Volunteer| Peter Whitmore| Victim resisted death threats )) Each story details a violation of a child’s life.
Often sexual assault is spoke of in hushed tones, sometimes more so if the victim is male. I think perhaps homophobia comes into play, both in a child’s willingness to report and in the way they are treated.
Sexual assault steals something special from a child, not the much referred to ‘innocence’ but their trust. In some ways a child requires trust for their very survival. They must trust as infants that they will be fed and cared for. As young children they must trust that parents will be there to help, to care, to chase monsters. Teenagers trust that their parents will come to place trust in them, but also that they can be trusted to say no when necessary.
That trust is almost irretrievably broken by sexual assault. The perpetrator has in many instances set up a situation where they can accuse the child of playing a part in their own assault. Children are often lured by alcohol or candy or promises of going places parents wouldn’t allow. It is human nature for children to want to explore these things. It is completely natural for them to be curious about sex. But it is always an adults responsibility to not step over the line or to use curiosity as an excuse to abuse.
Assault frequently leads to rage. Most especially as the child grows and comes to terms with what happened. In girls/young women this can manifest as self harm. Whether through poor relationship choice, drugs, alcohol abuse, cutting, eating disorders, or suicide. Boys and young men will often focus this rage outwards. Easily set off into anger and violence as they have lost touch with their inner selves. They feel ‘out of control’ and for a short time the anger and hatred they feel toward their abuser is resolved through the release of adrenaline and the act of payback for those unlikely enough to be stand ins for the abuser.
Of course methods used by girls and women are used also at least to some degree by abused boys and men.
It is to our shame as a society that we add to the shame and rage victims feel by seeing this as something not to talk about, something you get over and put behind you. It is to our shame that sexual assaults are not taken as seriously as they should be. That often the “survival behaviours’ that manifest in victims are treated more seriously and punished more heavily than the act that created those behaviours.
Victims of theft no matter how small, will often say they feel violated. Imagine how much greater the violation a child feels. Already at a disadvantage size and knowledge wise, they also have less ‘power’. For boys who even from a young age are expected to develop a sense of power over others this complete and utter dissolution of power and self is devastating.
No gender suffers more than the other. Each suffers in different ways based on the expectations , fears and traditions a society holds.
We must hold ourselves to a greater accountability to our children. We must hold crimes against children to be of greater significance and requiring stiffer penalties.
Our children have faith and trust in us. Let us be worthy of it.