The following material is not advisable for anyone who may be triggered by this subject. Please, do not read this article if you are vulnerable.
Sexual abuse has long been a scourge to humanity. Children simply cannot give consent and are innocent even after their trust is abused. Sexual activity should be between two consenting adults, not a trauma forced upon a child who can’t reject it.
Yet, globally, child sexual abuse continues and is perhaps more apparent than ever. Is there more child sexual abuse? Or are we seeing it more often because we are looking?
This article will explore child sexual abuse and try to determine who is to blame for this hideous trauma.
Why Would an Adult Sexually Abuse a Child?
Like with many other mental health problems, there is no set and recognizable reason someone would sexually abuse a child, as each perpetrator is unique. Some predators recognize what they are doing is wrong and are unhappy but unable to stop, while others believe there is nothing wrong with their behavior and that they are showing the child love.
Other adults sexually abuse children to feel powerful and in control when they don’t feel them with adult acquaintances. Adults who are primarily attracted to children may act on those feelings. Finally, some predators act impulsively, sexually abusing a child because the opportunity to do so was just right.
If the perpetrator is an adolescent, they may not understand that they are harming the person they are showing sexual favors with. Young children may act out sexually by touching and looking at their private parts. This is a natural part of childhood and is nothing to be concerned about.
No matter why people sexually abuse children, their explanations are no excuse for their behavior. The lives of the children they abuse are forever altered by the actions of adults who do not see children as someone to love and care for, but as objects they can use for their own devices.
Victim Shaming and Blaming by Perpetrators
Perpetrators of sexual abuse use many tactics to keep their young victims from telling and cooperating. One is to use threats such as “I’ll kill …” or “I won’t love you anymore.”
Children are fiercely loyal to those who show them affection. Even in the face of threats, children will say nothing to another adult to rescue themselves. It is not the child’s fault; it never is.
Abusers are masterful manipulators and know how to shift blame from themselves to the child they are traumatizing. They can convince themselves that the abuse is the child’s fault and, if caught, that the abuse never happened. This behavior is not only powerful but also effective.
The ability of predators to gaslight their victims should not be simplified or ignored. Because they are kids, the children they abuse are vulnerable and fall for the favors and their need to receive attention of any kind.
Self-Blame in Adult Survivors
Unfortunately, it is common for victims of childhood sexual abuse to blame themselves, even in the face of facts that prove otherwise. Often, survivors are filled with guilt and shame, crippling their ability to form or maintain healthy adult relationships.
If you blame yourself for what happened to you as a child or teenager, don’t. The perpetrator who harmed you wasn’t trying to be nice to you and had all the power over you. You could not resist, so forget about the self-blame statement that says, “If I’d only fought harder.”
You did NOT lead the adult who committed sexual abuse against you. Even if you walked up to them naked, they did not have the right as an adult to harm you. All the power belonged to them, not you. I repeat that phrase on purpose because you were an innocent victim of a horrendous crime.
Ending Our Time Together
This article is exploring the question, who is to blame for sexual abuse? The answer is simple and yet complex. Everyone except the children is to blame.
Society has left children in the bottom of the heap when it comes to human rights. Somehow we believe collectively that children aren’t worth our time or money as programs to address children who have been victimized are underfunded and ignored.
To end child abuse, we must first reach the children who are being abused now. No, not everyone who was abused will become a predator. But many do, and we can at least hopefully end the cycle of abuse that some families live under.
The innocent people in child abuse are the children. They are helpless, powerless, and unable to escape their fate. You were once this way too. You were totally unable to stop what was happening to you then and deserve to overcome the damages done today.
You are not and never were to blame for the past. You, along with society, are now responsible for helping to end the tragedy that is childhood sexual abuse. To begin, start in your own backyard. Volunteer for groups like the ones listed on this webpage and write to your state and federal senators and representatives demanding more funds are released to combat child abuse.
You were once an innocent victim; you can now be the voice of change.
“For in every adult there resides the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be” -John Connolly
“The innocence of children is what makes them stand out as a shining example to the rest of the world.” -Kurt Chambers