While many use the term “monster” to describe sexual abusers – they do not usually come into the life of their victim formed as such. If anything, it’s quite the opposite – it’s someone they believe loves them and they love in return. It’s someone they trust, they look up to and enjoy being around – someone that has made them feel special. Especially if they are lacking close relationships with others, specifically parents/family.
Even when sexual activity is introduced into the relationship, not all children will understand the extent of the abuse right away. By the time they do – it may seem too late to tell. The feelings of complicity, responsibility, and guilt make them afraid to tell. They may feel bound to protect their abuser- “your parents will kill me” “I’ll lose my job” “they’ll put me/us in jail.” People think that a child would become afraid of their abuser, but the truth is, they may still care for this person and may be afraid of losing the relationship.
It’s also important that we do not take on a position of violence if someone were to hurt our children – “I’d kill anyone that hurt you,” because this attitude may make a child even more afraid to tell. They may not want this person to be hurt or have them get into trouble.
We must do our best to explain to our children that people that do the wrong thing don’t always look like “bad” people. That even we, as parents, might even trust the wrong people. This is why we must remind them that it’s always right to tell and that it’s never too late. We won’t be angry or disappointed and we will believe them and listen. This is one of the most difficult lessons for both adults and children to understand because so often people do not even suspect abusers and don’t believe victims when they tell. People too often are quick to forgive & make excuses for abusers because they are “nice” people and respected by many.
Sections on this page have been adapted from TheMamaBearEffect.