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Sexual Abuse Of Children 3

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Sexual Abuse Of Children

Sexual Abuse Of Children 3


The Sexual Abuse of Children

Part III
Dr. George Sharpe (July, 1985)


Disclosure represents a critical phase in the incestuous family. Here the secret is broken. It is important if the disclosure is purposeful or accidental.

In a purposeful disclosure, the child has drawn attention as a means of seeking help. It may have been the school or some other friend whom they contacted to reveal that their father is having sex with them.

When cases are discovered through accidental means, there usually has been a social or medical consequence. The child may be pregnant or perhaps have presented to the emergency room with lacerations, bite marks or bruises around the genitalia. At times they are identified through contracting one of the venereal diseases.

The cover-up then begins. The family will make an enormous attempt to deny the abuse regardless of what the child or medical staff have reported in terms of sexual molestation. The family is fearful of police intervention. They are concerned that the family will be torn apart and the child removed. Social stigma and potential loss of the parents’ job become important.

Such families often have long term investments and relationships. Many factors are evaluated in determining a possible course of action for the child and the family:

  1. What is the age of the child, the degree of physical injury?
  2. What amount of force was used?
  3. The personality structure of the child.
  4. The degree of relationship to the molester.
  5. The attitude of the bystander parent in protecting the child.
  6. The offending parents attitude to responsibility and rehabilitation/treatment program.
  7. Available emotional and community support systems.
  8. Additional information from schools, hospitals, churches, etc.

Removal of the child from the family should be regarded as the ultimate solution since this can have devastating and traumatic effects on the child. Protecting the child may involve other steps besides removal from the family unit. Once disclosure is made it should be handled in the best interests of the victim. Such children may already feel guilty, responsible and at fault.

Removal of the child is more likely when:

  1. The child is afraid to go back home or wants out of the situation.
  2. The child is too young for building a protective network.
  3. The bystander parent blames, does not believe or can’t protect the child.
  4. If the molester blames the child, refuses responsibility for what happened or insists on denying the abuse.
  5. Both parents are abusing the child.

The treatment of the child is critical. The child’s response to the abusive situation may strain the beliefs of many people. Children thrive on affection, when the sole manifestation of affection has been sexual abuse, this can be confused with love from the parent. Children may be heard to say, “I liked it, it felt good, why are you saying that it is wrong?”

Such is a hard question to answer, we don’t want to destroy the child’s whole view of sexuality. Guilt and feelings of responsibility take their toll on the children. Night wake-fullness, nightmares, dreams, self alienation, promiscuous labelling and the like are common disturbances.

Supportive therapy and counseling are required for the child to establish self trust, develop more ego strength, more self esteem, and try to combat the long term negative effect of the inconsistency which has been present within the family.

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