Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Removing the Cloak of Shame

cloak shame
Did you know that April is my birthday month? Yep, it is.

Did you know that April is tax month in the USA? Oh joy, it is.

Did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? It is.

I hate it. I might want a new birthday month.

I don’t hate sexual assault awareness, honestly, I don’t. What I hate is that we need a whole month devoted to it. But I am grateful that there is a whole month devoted to it. Raising awareness of sexual assault is a worth a whole month and then some. The past 5 years of my life have been devoted to sexual assault awareness.

Those of us who have been touched by the villainous fingers of sexual assault don’t need a month set aside for awareness. We are aware. Excruciatingly, constantly, monotonously aware. Casualties of sexual abuse, most victims would relinquish that awareness willingly for a month of cluelessness. That would be bliss. Not that we could actually forget. Ever. And not that I actually think cluelessness would be a positive position. In fact, I am quite sure it would not be. As a whole I think our society chooses to be far too clueless about sexual assault. But why wouldn’t we be? Sexual assault is scary. It hurts and thinking about it might damage our precious innocence. An innocence that we fight like mad to protect but then bombard ourselves with assaulting sexual images on a regular basis while burying our heads in the sand. It isn’t innocence we’re really protecting, it is our fear. Clinging to cluelessness in an attempt to protect our fear does nothing more than to invite the very thing we fear to find a place to hide. It is from that camouflaged position of honor that sexual abuse can then control us. Contrary to what we all want to believe, none of us are immune.

It is not from atop a soap box that I spout these societal critiques but rather from the trenches. I am a survivor of sexual abuse. Two of my daughters are survivors of sexual assault. Some people think I shouldn’t admit these things at least not in so public a place. There is no shame in surviving sexual assault, for me or my daughters so we will not slink about in shadows pretending the fingers of such a vile monster have never touched us. Pretending that sexual abuse is not the problem it is provides acceptance, even a warm environment in which sexual abuse will thrive. I will proudly and loudly stand and say what some are afraid to, shinning light on the truth. Sexual abuse is alive and well and destroying, maiming lives. Lives of people all around you. Maybe yours. Busting apart the silent barricade of deceit and lies, I will do what I can do help remove the blinders of willful ignorance that feeds such abuse. Sexual assault parades around cloaked in the shame of others. Refuse to be clueless. Refuse to be silent. Refuse to shame the abused. Refuse to cling to fear.

Did you know:

  • 1 in 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 18. (1)
  • 1 in 6 boys is sexually abused before the age of 18. (1)
  • 1 in 5 children are solicited sexually while on the internet. (2,3)
  • Children who are abused are over 50% more likely to be arrested as juveniles. (4)
  • Children who are abused are 30% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime as an adult. (4)
  • Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults (including assaults on adults) occur to children ages 17 and under. (5)
  • An estimated 39 million survivors of childhood sexual abuse exist in America today. (6)
  • 95% of sexually abused children are abused by a family member or someone they know and trust. (7)
  • Approximately 40% are abused by older or larger children whom they know. (8,9)
  • The median age for reported abuse is 9 years old. (10)
  • More than 20% of children are sexually abused before the age of 8. (10)
  • Over 30% of victims never disclose the experience to ANYONE. (11)
  • More than 75% of teenage prostitutes have been sexually abused. (12,13,14,15)
  • Nearly 50% of women in prison state that they were abused as children. (11)

Statistic References

Throughout the rest of the month of April I will be making more posts regarding this topic. It is an important one to me, one that has helped shape me. In the face of those statistics you may be at a little bit of a loss as to what you can do. Reading that list is the first step, trust me. Sharing about Sexual Abuse Awareness Month is another, small but strong, step. I will be sharing some of the lessons we have learned along the way and what we choose to do. We are continually on the healing road and God has done a lot in our lives already. It is to that end that I speak. I know we can't completely eradicate sexual abuse but hopefully we can lower the occurrence and walk with those that have suffered.

Bump up my post on Mom Blog Network


  1. Ugh.

    Well, I love you, and love that you were born. I hate that we have to live in this awareness...but will pray for healing above all things.

    Love, me

  2. I agree, abuse victims should speak up. Way too oft still do people say they are just craving attention and what not, that attitude creates opportunity through a spiral of silence

  3. I too am a sexual abuse survivor. I've fairly recently had God direct my path to realize that the abuse was affecting me still to this day, much more than I had thought. Through His help, I've been able to get on the path to recover more fully. Thanks for being brave enough to talk about such a hard subject. Things like sexual abuse should never be kept a secret. It's much more freeing to let others know what you've been through.

  4. Would love to hear prevention tips and further insight. As mother to two daughters, it is one of my greatest fears. My oldest is in TaeKwon-Do and soon my younger daughter will begin, too - I intend to keep them enrolled for as long as possible, to give them some means of self-defense and confidence should they be faced with such a situation. Outside of that and educating them on the matter, I am at a loss.

    Hugs to you and your daughters - what a tragic, tragic occurrence.

  5. Somehow I clicked this and clicked that (in blog frog maybe?) and ended up here.
    What an amazing, thoughtful post. The statistics horrify me. I'm not a survivor, but as a mother now, fear for the horror my children could see in this world.
    There is a site out there that share's people's stories and offers support to the survivors. I won't link it here (I'm new) but if you're interested, I'd be happy to e-mail it. Maybe it could be part of your april posts.
    (not trying to promote, just share info!)

  6. I found your blog on the Blog Frog discussion. I just wanted to stop by and applaud you for being a pro-active protective mom...for giving a voice to your daughters and fighting for them...for giving a voice to all of us survivors. That is awesome!

    April is an important month. It isn't my birthday, but it is a particularly difficult anniversary for me, which makes it a little surreal that it is also SA Awareness month. It is strange how things work out sometimes.

  7. I usually get on really well with Aries people :-)
    Thank you for highlighting a subject which is although not pleasant to talk about in real need of dealing with.

  8. Bless you and your daughters. You are brave and wonderful and I am glad I stopped by today.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I have been blessed to have made it this far in life without being a victim of something this horrible but I do thank you for speaking up about it. I have friends who have kept their abuses silent until well into adult hood and I have a daughter whom I want to feel safe and comfortable in telling some one if this should happen to her!

    This has been a visit from SITS!

  10. Good for you. Bloody good FOR YOU!! I feel like shouting. Yes! Name them and shame them. And damn well prosecute them! I have been living with an abusive person close at hand (not sexually abusive, but someone who has been threatening my children, threatening me) and I understand completely the urge to stay quiet about it - will everyone laugh if I make a complaint? will they think I'm hysterical? will they ask what I have done to bring this upon myself?. Finally I faced it head on and life is infinitely better now. For me, though I hope it's about to get much worse for him! This message of support comes to you from Italy via SITS.

  11. In my home live 2 female and 3 male survivors of sexual abuse. I am the only one over the age of 7. Thank you for putting this out there in a way that does not embarrass or shame victims. You are my hero =)

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  13. Thank you everyone for showing your support for the survivors of sexual abuse. Those of you that shared of your own struggle as a survivor of sexual abuse I can't thank you enough for speaking up here. I often find myself wondering if I should write about this subject, I don't want to offend people. But when I write and decide that the risk of offending people is one I will take in order to say what I so passionately feel needs to be said I don't regret it. Hearing from others that have been sexually abused reminds me how desperately victims and survivors need a voice in society. And there is a part of me that hopes that somehow, in some way, survivors are touched, know they are valued and this world made a better place because people like me are willing to risk disapproval to be that voice. How beautiful would it be see the rates of sexual abuse begin to go down because there is no longer a veil of silence and victim shame for the abusers to hide behind? To show victims they can be survivors?

    I will not be silent on this issue. There are more posts coming this month. Thank you again.

  14. As someone abused sexually at an early age, I applaud you for your efforts in bringing this issue forward.

    As a survivor, I admire you deeply for your courage. I know there is much we can all do, daily, to fight abuse, but it's easier not to.
    Thank you.

  15. Thank you for posting on such a sensitive subject. As a survivor I know how isolating it can be especially when those around you call you a liar when you finally have the courage to speak up after years of abuse.

    The stats are horrible but sadly not shocking.