“But whoever hurts one of these little ones who believe in Me and causes them to loose faith, it would be better for that person to have a large stone hung around their neck, and be drowned in the sea.
But whoever hurts the faith of one of these little ones who believe in Me, it would better for that person to be dropped in the sea with a weight around their neck and be put to death. Mathew 18
©2005 Kimberly Hartfield, B.S., M.S.
Sexual abuse of a child is considered to be any inappropriate exposing of a child to sexual stimuli by anyone who has influence on the child, in order to erotically arouse that person, without concern for its effects on the child. The perpetrator is always to blame for the abuse and must always be held accountable when sexual abuse of a child occurs, because of his or her obvious awareness of sexuality. Children often don’t understand what is going on when they are abused and no child can deal with this kind of abuse physically or emotionally. Even a child who is too young to know that the abuse is wrong will likely develop problems from the inability to cope with this type of stimulation.
Sexually abused children often mentally withdraw from a conscious awareness of the abuse, which is called dissociation. The victim may have unclear memories or no memories for a time, but certain experiences may trigger intensely distressing feelings. The victim almost always feels that “Something is wrong with me,” and that the abuse is somehow “my fault.” They may feel different than other children and keep to themselves a lot. Sexual abuse is clearly a betrayal of the child’s trust, especially when the abuser is known to the child. The sexually abused child often develops a pronounced inability to trust anyone, which prohibits revealing the abuse, usually for years. In a child’s eyes, the exposure and consequences of telling may be worse than the abuse itself.
The first step in recovery is for the sexually abused person to discern the violation and to tell the secret. They must first recognize that they were in fact abused and then tell someone they trust to help them. The response of the one who is told of the abuse to the divulgence of childhood sexual abuse is critical to the victim’s ability to recover and heal from the ordeal. A compassionate response is vital to re-establishing trust and getting help for the victim. Christians must never minimize abuse as ‘just sexual play”, blame the victim, or tell a child to keep the secret. It is imperative that victims receive the assurance that it is not any fault of their own. Counsel should be sought for the victim, and often for the child’s family members as well. The emotional damage of childhood sexual abuse can be devastating to the victim and to the whole family.
Most victims commonly experience sexual guilt and with sexuality being integral to the total person, abuse inevitably affects one’s total self-concept. C.S.A. often interferes with the development of attitudes toward self, sexuality, sexual identity, and relationships. The victim often develops distressing emotions, ideologies, and demeanors. The effects of C.S.A. include poor self-esteem, fear, depression, anger, suicidal behaviors, inappropriate sexual behavior, sexual disorders, substance abuse, eating disorders, self-abuse, anddifficulty in relationships with atendency toward involvement with relationships reminiscentof theabusive situation. These are usually characterized by feelings of mistrust, indifference, and/or hatred.
Where prevention is concerned, parents should talk to their young children on several occasions about the difference between good and bad touching, whiletelling them that they can and must say “no” to any touching or behavior that makes them feel uncomfortable; and that they should tell a trusted adult as soon as possible if this occurs. Parents should never tell a child to do everything an adult tells them to do, while explaining that showing respect does not always mean doing whatever a person in authority says to do.
Parents should also be aware that C.S.A. is not always perpetrated by a stranger or even an adult. Sometimes family members, friends of the family, neighbors, people in positions of authority, and even other children close to the same age, can be abusive. Children sleeping at home, either alone or with others, and spend-the-nights should always be properly supervised, but even this cannot ensure a child’s safety. Providing a safe, caring, and open environment, so children feel able to talk freely, is vital in both the prevention and the resolution of C.S.A. While children often do not seek help at the time of the abuse, until it is properly dealt with, its damaging effects will continue to assault the victim in many areas of the personality and lifestyle.
Telling the secret is one of the most important aspects of the victim’s healing process. Once this ground is broken, the seeds of restoration can emerge from every survivor of C.S.A. Another integral part of the healing process is taking the victim’s self-blame and placing that blame on the abuser where it truthfully belongs. Finding forgiveness for that abuser through the mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is a key point also in that process. But reconciliation should never take place if the abuser is unrepentant. A child should never be put in danger of further abuse. Christians can help victims find the seeds of healing by encouraging them to use godly means of overcoming the abuse and helping them to grow into the tree of life that God intended them to be.
Christians must be made aware of the extent of C.S.A.and that many of our sisters and brothers need help in dealing with the conflicts of its aftermath, sometimes even years after the abuse has occurred. Those Christians who have experienced C.S.A. themselves and found hope in Jesus, if they are sufficiently healed to be stable enough to console others, should do what they can to comfort others with the consolations they have been comforted with of God (II Cor 1:4). Christian survivors can make other victims aware, not only that they are survivors of the ordeal, but that they can be over-comers in Christ Jesus. Christian comforters can tell other victims that they can be clean from any defilement that they may be feeling as a result of their victimization, and that they too can become a new creation if they have not yet begun that process. Christians who comfort should pray for victims of C.S.A., while also encouraging them to seek help in dealing with any unresolved issues. Christians should also pray for abusers of C.S.A.survivors, because many of them were C.S.A. victims themselves, who were never treated. They can be told that God’s judgment is sure for the unrepentant and be shown how to seek forgiveness in God’s mercy.
Though statistics say that most abusers never stop abusing, some Christians believe that all things are possible with God and that abusers can heal if they are truly repentant, while seeking professional help. Victims should never be coerced into staying in a situation of abuse in the hope that an abuser will change. The abuser may change with the help and healing of Jesus, and the victim may forgive the abuser by the grace of God, but the victim must not be compelled to prove forgiveness by remaining in an atmosphere of repeated exposure to abuse. Victims can find true forgiveness for their abusers and experience the grace and healing that goes with it; but this usually happens only after years of a healing process that begins with a safe atmosphere of self-discovery. This environment, along with therapeutic and spiritual counseling with a knowledgeable and compassionate comforter, whether that person be a professional Christian counselor, pastoral counselor, or a lay person survivor of C.S.A., can facilitate the metamorphosis of the new creation in Christ Jesus that every Christian C.S.A. survivor can become.
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30 Personal Safety Measures for Parents and Children
- Tell children to never open a door to someone they don’t know well.
- Tell children to never tell or text anyone that their home alone.
- Tell children not to speak or write of personal plans in public or over the internet.
- Tell older children and teens to keep the home well lit and locked, whenever they are home alone. Children younger than 12 should never be left alone.
- Don’t leave doors, windows, or curtains opened where someone can see you or your children easily.
- Don’t leave young children unattended or attended by someone you don’t completely trust. Children are often abused by step fathers, uncles, friends of the family, boyfriends, older cousins, etc.
- Children should not be allowed to sleep over in an unfamiliar household without proper supervision. Children have been abused in their best friends home or in a cousins home by a male in the household, so even in familiar situations, children should be well supervised.
- Tell children to tell you if anyone says or does anything to them they’re uncomfortable with.
- Tell children to tell you anyway if someone should threaten them if they tell or tell them not to tell you something.
- Don’t hide keys outside your house for children. Put keys on a key chain in their backpack or on their person.
- Lock your doors when you’re working in the yard, attic, or bedrooms away from entrances. Someone could sneak in while you’re not watching. Children have been kidnapped because a parent left a door unlocked.
- Tell children not to give personal info to anyone on the phone or the internet.
- Teens should have a cell phone in the car while driving for safety.
- Tell teens to have keys in their hand when leaving a building to go to their car. Searching for keys is an opportunity for attack. Keys can also be used as a weapon if attacked.
- Tell teens to look around and in the car before getting in.
- Tell teens to lock the car door right away when getting in to it.
- Tell teens to look around before getting out of a car for anything unusual and leave if anything looks odd.
- Tell teens if attacked in a parking lot, to try to get under a car, where it would be hard for an attacker to get them.
- Tell teens to not let their car go below a quarter tank of gas, where they may have to stop in an unfamiliar place to refuel.
- Tell teens to never pick up hitchhikers or others they don’t know well.
- Tell children and teens to keep their personal space. If someone gets too close for their comfort, tell them to move away. If the person gets closer, tell them to run.
- Never leave children unattended, even for a minute or two, in shopping malls or other public places.
- Be careful when leaving shopping malls or stores, when perpetrastors are likely to attack.
- Don’t carry too many packages so that you can’t defend yourself or your children if attacked. Always keep one hand free.
- Tell children and teens to walk facing oncoming traffic so that they can’t be followed and pulled into a car.
- If asked for directions by a driver, tell children to stay far enough away from the car so that they can’t be pulled in and can run. They can always say, “I don’t know” and keep walking or run.
- Tell teens when someone drops them off somewhere to ask them to watch until they’re safely inside.
- If you or your children are on an elevator and someone threatening gets on, get off as quickly as possible by pushing several buttons to the next floors. Don’t push stop.
- Tell children and teens to be very careful entering an area where the usual lighting is not working. Attackers often unscrew or break light bulbs.
- If someone in your family or someone you know tries to or hurts you or your children in any way, whether physically or sexually, tell someone you trust to help you the first chance you get.
- Get out of the house and go to a trusted neighbor if possible
- Lock yourself in a room and call 911 if possible
- Keep a packed bag for self and children (if you have any) for an emergency escape
- Keep keys, important papers, and money with someone you trust for an emergency.
- If abuse is ongoing, do not go back without the perpetrator getting counseling from a reputable source. Get proof.
Take a free Self Defense quiz here.
- Two landmark Cases of Childhood Sexual Abuse
- Are You SAD?(Sexually Abused Dependant) (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- Get a copy of Jesus, the Friend of Children for any donation to GFM (gofishministries.wordpress.com)
- Coming out of the Closet Victims of Sexual and Domestic Violence and the Non-traditionally Sexually Oriented (gofishministries.wordpress.com)