Sunday, October 31, 2010

Wake up and do something abou it.................

Sexual abuse of children is one of the highest rated crimes yet one of the least reported around the world. Every minute of every day, around the globe, children, primarily young girls are being victimized by sexual assault. The majority of these girls remain silent due to embarrassment, fear, guilt and even blame. They suffer greatly, alone, with psychological and behavioral issues. As adults, they carry with them the horrors of their past and are drastically hindered by their effects in every aspect of their lives. The silence of these victims not only affects them, but society as well. With another un-reported pedophile on the loose, the probability of that person striking again is almost inevitable. Our society needs to learn how to speak more openly on this issue so our children will not be so afraid to tell.
            Statistically, females are at a higher risk for sexual assault. The horrors of these statistics become apparent when we are forced to recognize that the groups with the highest incidence are young girls between the ages of 5-13. According to the organization RAINN (2009) in the United States alone, 1 in out of every 6 women has been a victim of rape or attempted rape by the time they reached 15 years of age. Every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted, here in this country. Despite what most of us teach our children, 60% of all sexual crimes go unreported. Factoring in the unreported rapes, only about 6% of rapist will ever spend a day in jail (2009). The perpetrators, or monster as so many victims call them, are usually people the child and family know and trusts. The pedophile is bold, 50% of all incidents occur in the child’s home or the home a relative.
            The fact that most perpetrators are individuals that the child and family know is sometimes used as silence weapon. The perpetrator uses the innocence and submissiveness of the child to scare them into silence. Usually threatening to harm the family or denying it all together. Not only is there fear, but there is shame and embarrassment. Working with several individuals that have been abused, the common thread to shame is that they don’t want people to look at them as if they are damaged.  Some children do not tell because they feel guilty. The mind of a child is not yet developed properly to be faced with barbaric acts such as these. The primary factors that play a role in the silence of the child is self blame. Children feel that since they did not tell the first time, they are at fault for the atrocities bestowed on them.
            One can imagine the psychological and behavioral implications this will have on the psyche of a child. While some children show no sign of abuse, most become withdrawn and depressed.  Adults and children can both develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorders, the same thing most of us affiliate with the horrors of war. Regressive behaviors such as bed wetting and thumb sucking often occur. I believe this is the minds way trying to feel innocent again. Eating disorders develop 35% to 40% of the time in both women and children based on research done from the nonprofit organization After Silence (2007). This is the person’s way of acting out their rage or regaining control of their bodies.
            Abused girls usually grow up with low self esteem an isolate themselves from the dangerous world outside. As adults, women have difficulties setting boundaries and saying no to anything. Trust is shattered and everyone is suspect. Some women experience flashbacks when reminded of the incident. Anything from smell to a color can trigger a flashback.
Since there is a problem setting boundaries and having low self esteem, most of these girls grow up to be promiscuous. Added to all the other baggage, most women depend on drugs and alcohol to feel ok. This usually leads them right back into a path of abusive relationships with men and their environment.
Speaking about sexual crimes is uncomfortable enough, but speaking about it in reference to children is almost too terrifying to face. The numbers speak for themselves, we have a problem. The fact that laws against sexual assault are not stricter allows these criminals to walk proudly amongst us as outstanding citizens. People cannot turn a blind eye to this most relevant issue. Is it taboo? Yes, and it is this fear of the taboo that needs to be changed before we can try to beat this pandemic. Speaking openly about sexuality and setting boundaries with our children will instill in them the knowledge as well as the security to come to you if someone is hurting them.

Please join the fight and get the word around.  Sex offenders should not enjoy freedom. One Strike Rule for sex offenders.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Intimacy after Abuse......How?

Intimacy, what frightening word it can be for those of us who have suffered sexual abuse.  What we see in the movies never comes to fruition; always lurking in the background is that ever so present fear of a flashback, some insignificant insecurity reminding you that you are not perfect or just the lack of strength to go through with the act.  For many survivors, talking about this issue is very difficult.  It may seem that there is something wrong with you for feeling so afraid and ashamed.  There is nothing wrong with you.  Just as a an abused dog that cowers every time it’s master raises his hand even if the intention is not to hit the same for the survivor of abuse.  Sex is not fun; it takes a whole lot to make it a pleasurable experience.  What we can look forward to, is that as we heal from these traumas so will the strength of these “intimate attacks”. 
Why do people experience these kinds of symptoms?  If you are one of these people, know that you are not alone and there is nothing wrong with you.  When you are abused sexually, it is disfiguring the most vital part of us.  It is complete and utter treachery of trust and affection.  To be frank, it is a primal attack on an individual’s sexuality.
 There are 2 outcomes to this scenario; rarely do we find a person that has been sexually abused to find common ground.  One person might completely isolate themselves from having any sort of sexual activity in fear that they will show their vulnerability to the other person.  They may also feel extremely insecure and not want to fully commit to the act because they are ashamed of their bodies or that they will not be good enough.  Others on the other hand might indulge in having a lot of sex with several partners, more than what they did before the attack if relevant.  When your sexuality is stolen from you, it holds no bearing, it is not important anymore so who cares who you give it to.  Many people have more sex to try to regain some sort of control over what they lost.
After sexual abuse or sexual assault has taken place, it may take years for the real issues to surface.  For some though, it can happen right away.  For me, I had no idea there was a problem until I found myself in a relationship that is when everything began to rise to the surface.  It was almost like I was a volcano of emotions.  As soon as the words I love were spoken to me my doors closed and shut down.  Maybe it was because I actually felt safe and could finally let my guard down.  I didn’t love myself and having someone love me seemed impossible.
After digging deep within myself, research and talking to other survivors I have come up with a list of collective issues that stem up after sexual abuse or assault.  They are listed from most common to least expressed:
   1. Running away from sex/ afraid of it
   2. Sex is a chore rather than something enjoyable
   3. Anger, repulsion, distress, crying after a sexual encounter (touch or intercourse)
   4. Unable to reach orgasm, unable to feel aroused (primarily in women)
   5. Disconnected during sex/ thinking about everything else but the sex
   6. Flashbacks
Being able to identify what is bothering you is very important in the healing process.  I am still very angry that because of what these animals did to me, I am affected as an adult.  I have come to recognize what it is particularly that affects me the most and I am still working on these issues.  By no means is this something that is going to happen overnight but it will happen with hard work and commitment.  The abuse has caused survivors to look at sex in a negative light; our sub-conscience mind insists that all sex is bad sex, worthless, meaningless.  The mind is a very powerful thing.  We can change that frame of mind and begin to see sex as a beautiful thing, a fun thing, and an exciting adventure.
What we need to remember is that the effects the abuse is like a stain on our sexuality.  It is very hard to get rid of a stain but if we wash enough and have powerful enough detergents that stain will come off.  Sometimes stains don’t ever go away, but they become faded and that is ok too.  What is important is that we clean ourselves from this guilt and horror and learn to accept that sex, in its positive form is part of human nature.  Rock the boat and love it.
~The moment the slave resolves that he will no longer be a slave, his fetters fall. He frees himself and shows the way to others. Freedom and slavery are mental states.
                                                                                                -Mahatma Gandhi