When a child is sexually attacked in a family, by a family member or friend, that child should receive all the intervention, both medically and emotionally, that she might receive had she been hit by a car; or if she were attacked on the street by a stranger. If the crime were committed by a stranger, only then can she talk about it.
Within the family system she is shamed into silence, taught to think of how the offender might feel, not how she feels. As if she doesn’t even exist. This becomes her way of life, for life. It is not easy to change what we learn in those formative years, the things that were ingrained into our personalities and psyches.
It is no less a crime when it happens within a family. Why is it when a crime is committed by one we love and trust, the legal name is reduced in harshness and penalty? When punched in the face by a stranger, it is assault. When it is a husband, it is abuse or domestic violence. It is still assault, and if you love that person then attack them anyway, that is a deeper, more personal crime, not a lessor crime.
When attacked on the street it is rape. When a child is attacked it is abuse. Too often the child is made to feel ashamed in order to silence her and protect the family name. This needs to change. Since the beginning of time the crime is placed on the child, to hold it and to carry the burden for life.
My wish for my family, if I could go back in time — Immediate intervention for all family members, first and for-most, me. Talking about it in a kind and caring way, and an openness for all further conversation, tears and apologies from offenders. Never to be left alone with an offender again. A doctor’s intervention in a kind and safe way so I would not feel ashamed, or to blame.
There was more than one occasion when medical intervention was necessary but not provided because of parental neglect. And Mom’s reason, if she were to admit it, was her own shame… her own shame that became mine, adding to an overload of unfair, killing burdens.
Counseling is necessary for underage offenders as they made mistakes in their young lives and it need not be a life sentence or a death sentence. And for those of legal age, legal action should be taken. And the child needs to know she is not to blame for a loved one facing these things. That is how life works. You commit a crime, you face the consequences.