A 28 year old woman, a survivor of child sex abuse, posted a video to Youtube of her calling her abuser. She did it because she feared that the statutes of limitation would prevent the abuser from paying for the crimes. First of all, praise God that she found the courage to do this, and to show her face publicly. This video will hopefully embolden other survivors to tell their stories of abuse and to report it. Only about 25% of child sex abuse survivors will ever tell anyone that they have been sexually abused. Other studies show that this number is probably generous. The majority of abuse survivors take that secret to their grave.
I’ll post the video at the bottom of this blog. The ridiculous comments people leave behind are not surprising to me: “Get over it. . .it happened 16 years ago,” “move on. . .” etc. Isn’t that the perception many people have? And isn’t this attitude precisely why children are afraid to tell anyone? Imagine–you’re 3 years old and finally get the courage to tell someone that your uncle has been caressing your body parts with his tongue. The reply is, “Just get over it.” “Move on.” Fear is the number one reason children don’t tell. Fear that nobody will believe them. Fear that they will be punished for telling. Fear that telling will cause a divorce. Fear that the public will find out that they have been molested. Fear that they will have to go to trial and face their abuser. You get the picture.
I’ve heard people ask survivors why they waited so long to tell someone. It’s usually framed in an accusatory question like, “If the abuse was really as bad as you say, why would you wait until you were all grown up to say something about it?” Says the person who was never sexually assaulted as a child. Interestingly, pedophiles commonly use the same argument but with a different agenda. It goes something like this: “If she really didn’t like it, she would have told me to stop.” Says the person who threatened the child that if he tells, something bad will happen to him or his family.
At any rate, I commend this woman who got the courage to call her abuser and I get why it took so long. We all should get it. It is more common than not for those who do report to do it years after the abuse occurred. I know of victims who were ridiculed by families or churches for reporting abuse because “you’re smearing “so-and-so’s” good name. Really? We can and need to do better than this for survivors of abuse.
And one piece of advice–don’t feel sympathy for abusers because they “were born that way” or “just couldn’t help themselves.” This video grabbed my attention and the abuser’s response is typical of pedophiles who are initially questioned for their crimes.
Caller: “I was only 12 years old when I met you. Do you realize that you brainwashed me and manipulated me and that what you did was wrong?”
Abuser: “Yes. And I regret it.”
Caller: “Are you doing this to other students too?”
Interviews with convicted child molesters reveal that they know that it is terribly wrong but they abuse anyway. Is the regret genuine? Possibly. But regret doesn’t stop someone from abusing, or from continuing to abuse. Is she telling the truth that she is not doing this to other students? It’s doubtful. There are a wide variety of statistics on how many victims a pedophile may have in his or her lifetime–with some being over 1,000 (that’s individual children per 1 abuser; this does not count how many instances of abuse there were, which could be a few thousand). Dr. Gene Abel did a couple studies and found that convicted pedophiles who were questioned averaged 73 victims each. United Youth Security estimated 260 victims each. You will find similar high numbers, and the scope of this particular blog is not to discuss the reasons why this range is all over the place. But there is one thing that is consistent: no matter how many abusers initially claim that they only have one victim, when further investigated it is revealed that there are almost always multiple victims.
Proverbs 24:24-25 (ESV) says, “Whoever says to the wicked, ‘You are in the right,’ will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.”