Continuing the Conversation Blog
Children Don't Tell Because They Love
Monday, September 29, 2014
"Some of them don’t tell because they love them,” I said.
Her face turned bright red. Her brown eyes bore into mine. “What?” she snapped.
“They love them,” I repeated softly.
“They love them? How could they love them?”
I wasn’t surprised by her question. I wasn’t shocked by her anger. She is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and she couldn’t imagine how any survivor could love their abuser. But her abuser wasn’t someone whom she loved.
Ninety to ninety-five percent of survivors of childhood sexual abuse are violated by someone they know and trust, and, yes, sometimes, by someone they love.
Consider this quote by a survivor friend of mine: "I was abused by a close relative. He was absolutely trusted. And he took advantage of me. And I went along with it because I didn't know any better. Because I trusted him." Many of the reasons children don’t tell lay within these five sentences. (You can read her story, Scars of Abuse).
The first reason kids don't tell is in the first sentence. Notice she wrote “close relative”. Children generally love their close relatives (fathers and mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers, uncles and aunts, brothers and sisters, and cousins). I know my friend did and does.
Children don’t tell because they love. They love deeply. And they know instinctively that if they tell, they might hurt the one they love. They can’t understand it—they don’t have the reasoning skills for it; they can’t explain it—they don’t have the words for it. But they can feel it. And those feelings are powerful. And those feelings hold them captive and keep them quiet.
And that is why it is an adult’s job to protect children from childhood sexual abuse. That is why it is critical that we involve children in the process of prevention. We teach children to be obedient, especially to adults. But there are times when “no” is not only appropriate, but necessary. As you can see by the statistics, most sexual violations are happening with people they know, not strangers. Children who are educated about body boundaries and safe vs. unsafe touches will be empowered to “say no” and “tell” no matter who it is. And your children need to know they can come to you if something like that happens, that they will be believed, and that you will take action to protect them.
Would your child keep a
secret from you?
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