The Abused, their confessions and the vital importance of “we believe you” (Part 2)
The post post analysis
Please be aware that the following post is on the subject of childhood sexual abuse. You can see Part 1 here.
I personally felt the need to communicate my experience, it had been gnawing at me since the public allegations in the press in recent months. My abuse took place in the early 80s. And it’s still happening to others. Every day. Tragically to so many more vulnerable children, adolescents and young adults.
I found the following on the NSPCC site;
Nearly a quarter of young adults (24.1%) experienced sexual abuse (including contact and non-contact) by an adult or by a peer during childhood.
One in six children aged 11-17 (16.5%) have experienced sexual abuse.
Almost one in 10 children aged 11-17 (9.4%) have experienced sexual abuse in the past year. Teenage girls aged between 15 and 17 years reported the highest past year rates of sexual abuse.
I don’t know why I’m shocked, given what I know, but I am, the numbers still jump out and punch me in the face. The first stat means that if you were to take a class full of kids from the year 1995 cSeven of those children will have experienced sexual abuse. Seven. I know when I’ve spoken with close friends in the past about my experiences that 2 of the 3 I spoke to had encountered some form of sexual abuse during their adolescence, these numbers are born out. The numbers from the NSPCC are based on registered accounts of abuse, they do not count the unreported abuses such as mine.
The stigma of abuse continues, the questions as to the provocation by the child, unbelievably and sickeningly prevails, the concept of the little Lolita rears its head and so often these are the cases that make the headlines.
So again, I wish to assert the following, the child, the victim, is NEVER accountable, is NEVER to blame, as in rape, as in other forms of abuse, neglect, emotional and physical, the perpetrator is the one who is making these experiences reality. This is not to say that some of these abusers aren’t extremely damaged and in need of help and support themselves. But the fact remains, in these exchanges the abusers are those who bear the burden of guilt and responsibility, those being mistreated must ALWAYS be believed and must ALWAYS be supported in their attempts to heal themselves and escape their demons-in whichever way they feel able to.
I was unbelievably fortunate to have a supportive, loving and tolerant family, one who did not judge me and one who helped me in my ability to heal. It took me until my mid-twenties to seek counselling for my experiences, it took me that long to recognise the negative impacts that the memory was having both on my behaviours towards myself and my ability to interact with others, particularly partners.
But I know only too well that not many are this fortunate. Financial Independence plays a huge role in being able to seek support post-trauma. When I’d attempted to seek counselling via the NHS the waiting list was months long and when I finally made it to the top of the list, I had 6 sessions available to me. In the meantime I had looked elsewhere and found a women’s centre, based at a church in Brighton, where there were voluntary counsellors who offered low cost sessions. It was still £20 a session, but I was working and I was also acutely aware of how badly I needed the support. I ended up seeing my counsellor for 2 years. It helped me immeasurably and without it I feel sure I would have struggled to overcome the pain on my own. But it is very important to note that it took me years to be emotionally ready to lift the lid and deal with what had happened. It cannot be forced and it must not be rushed, talking it through, even thinking about it can be exceptionally tough, draining and hard. Recognising this is key to seeking help-at least that was the case for me.
I also want to stress that talking through an experience is not for everyone and there are so many different ways to rehabilitate oneself, but it worked for me. What also worked for me was the acceptance that I could not change the past, that the only way to move forward was to accept what had happened, to abdicate the responsibility for it and to own my recovery.
I feel truly blessed to have received such positive support since placing my history in the public domain. It isn’t a way to fix oneself, but I hope that by sharing what I have gone through and how I’ve picked my path through a recovery it can at the very least let those in the early stages of recall, or who have not addressed their feelings, memories and experiences until now, know that there are support networks out there. They aren’t alone, however sad that may seem, there are others who know and feel their pain and there IS a road to recovery to be found. We don’t need to be defined by our abuse, it isn’t who we are, it’s what we’ve been through, we’re still us, we’re here despite our pasts and for some our presents, and I believe that’s a thing to be celebrated.
‹ The Abused, their confessions and the vital importance of “we believe you” (Part 1, Content Note) A victimless crime? (Content Note) ›
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Yes the male perpetrator is always responsible for his decision to sexually prey on female and/or male children. Just as the male perpetrator is always accountable and responsible for his choice and agency to sexually prey on adult women.
But the pernicious male created lie that women and children are responsible refuses to ‘go away’ because it is essential this lie must be constantly repeated in order to maintain mens’ fiction that ‘male sexual violence against women and children is as rare as the proverbial unicorn.’
The other side of the same coin is that not only is male sexual violence against women and girls a pandemic but there are very, very few real support resources available for the innumerable female survivors of male sexual violence. Do not believe government claims that ‘structures in place to assist the female survivor to return to her previous state of (supposed normality.’ The pathologisation of female survivors continues unabated and one of the most pernicious lies is that it is ‘vulnerable children and vulnerable women’ who are the ones supposedly most at risk of being subjected to male sexual violence.
‘Vulnerability’ is not the cause but claims ‘vulnerable women and children are at risk’ not only pathologises the female survivors it also reinforces mens’ lie that only certain women and children will be sexually preyed on by males. In reality simply being a female means innumerable males who continue to enact their male pseudo sex right to females, believe they have the right to sexually prey on her. But all these males continue to deny their accountability because in their view they are merely enacting their male (pseudo) sex right to females.
So the issue is complex wherein there continues to be a lack of real support made available to female survivors and the continuing ‘male denial that male sexual violence against women and girls is a pandemic.’
Note how the NSPCC conveniently omits to name sex of the perpetrators and this too is another method of hiding in plain site which sex is overwhelmingly responsible for subjecting women and girls to (male) sexual violence. Denying the reality and pathologising female survivors ensures one thing and that is continuing invisibility of how and why our Male Supremacist System/Society continues to condone/justify/minimalise pandemic male sexual violence against women and girls.
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