11 March 2013
How Therapy help Children Cope with Rape
It is every child’s right to be safe and feel protected. Children who are victimized through sexual abuse often begin to develop deeply held beliefs that shape their sense of self. They can sometimes feel confused and may often contemplate things such as: “My worth is my sexuality.” “I'm dirty and shameful.” “I have no right to my own physical boundaries.” These are just a few examples of the atrocious thoughts that run through the mind of a sexual abuse victim. It does not take long for children to begin to act in accordance with these belief systems. For children who have experienced sexual abuse or rape, the boundaries between love, sex, and pain become blurred. Secrets are normal, and shame is a constant. For parents, there are many things that can be done to prevent these beliefs and shameful thoughts. The notion of parents as representatives in child sexual abuse is a relatively neglected area of research. We want to protect all children in every way we know how, unfortunately that is almost impossible. The truth is, sexual abuse happens and it will never completely stop. The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is a crime, a violation of mankind's most basic duty to protect the innocent. Sexual abuse involves forcing, tricking, bribing, threatening or pressuring a child into sexual awareness or activity. Sexual abuse often occurs when an older or more knowledgeable child or adult uses a child for sexual pleasure. The abuse often begins gradually and increases over time. Since most children seek approval from adults, they are very vulnerable to abuse. They will do what is asked of them without questioning. In fact, the use of physical force is rarely necessary to draw a child into sexual activity because children are so trusting and dependent. They want to please others and gain approval. Children are taught not to question authority and they believe that adults are always right. Offenders know this and take advantage of children in this way. Sexual abuse is an abuse of power over a child and a violation of a child’s right to normal, healthy, trusting relationships. The more knowledge a parent has about childhood sexual abuse, the greater likelihood they can create safer environments for their children and thus prevent the occurrence of sexual exploitation. There has been a long standing call to involve parents in sexual abuse prevention efforts. Partnering with Parents to Prevent Childhood Sexual Abuse states that “several surveys have found that parents lack crucial information about childhood sexual abuse and often adhere to many common beliefs” (Wurtele132). More than a few parents underestimate the prevalence of sexual abuse while others are unaware that boys can be victimized (132). Without knowledge that children being raped and abused does happen, it is almost impossible to prevent them. Only a small percentage of children report sexual abuse themselves. Children fail to disclose for the following reasons: pressure for secrecy, fear that no one will believe them, or threats of harm. As parents, building a relationship with a child is an essential key to sexual abuse prevention. Once a child has a strong relationship with their parent they will become more open to communication. Talking openly with children makes them more comfortable providing information they would usually be afraid to tell. When children become comfortable communicating with their parents then they will more than likely tell when they feel uncomfortable around a certain person, this alone will help prevent sexual abuse. Another thing that can help parents prevent their child from being exposed to sexual abuse is to be aware of the environment their child is in. Although family members are the first people we go to when we need someone to look after our child we need to be sure that they are not capable of...