For the second time in recent years, I have found myself wondering how sexual abuse happens. If you have seen any news over the past few weeks, you are probably familiar with the Olympic gymnasts claims against the team doctor, Larry Nassar. The first time I gave much thought to this topic was during the final proofreading stages of the abstinence books I published last year. When sex abuse scandals hit the news, it’s both alarming and hurtful. When it’s local, it’s a wake up call.
It was a local case that caused me to add two chapters to my, then upcoming books—two chapters I had previously never even considered. One chapter, Hmmm…. introduces readers to the idea of sexual abuse. Sometimes young people do not know they are being sexually abused. This chapter contains 3 fictional story-starters, intended to help girls see how sexual abuse can occur. One story details the relationship between a girl and her grandfather. Another tells of a girl using a dating app and how things aren’t always as they seem. The final story-starter is about a girl who is raped when she thinks she is in a safe place. The next chapter, Abuse, explains the scenarios from the previous chapter. It explains some of the emotions experienced by people who have been sexually abused and advises that, “sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault.” The phone number to the National Sexual Assault Hotline is shared. 1.8000.656.HOPE (4673)
One thing I address early in A Guys’ Guide to Abstinence is the double-standard. I admit that I wrote A Girls’ Guide to Abstinence first, because I didn't really know how to approach abstinence for young men. God is faithful and He gave me just the words young men needed. After adding information about sexual abuse to A Girls’ Guide to Abstinence, I would perpetuate the double-standard if I did not share such information with guys, so A Guys’ Guide to Abstinence received an additional chapter, too.
My research for the Guys’ addition yielded mind-boggling details of Jerry Sandusky, a Pennsylvania coach who is currently in prison for the sexual abuse of 10 young men. It is the believed there were many more victims who chose not to come forward. From the 1970’s until 2011, Sandusky was allowed to continue his deviant behavior. I say “allowed,” because it was observed and reported multiple times, but not investigated for many years
As for Nassar, at the time I write this post, the number of victims is 265. Two-hundred sixty-five young women have come forward with their stories of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar. It took place over a 20-year period of time. Multiple young women reported it, but no action was taken. According to CNN, a 2012 Olympic medalist alleges that the overseeing body paid her to be quiet about Nassar's abuse of her, which began at age 13. Another gymnast says she reported abuse to the gymnastics coach in the late 1990s. The coach’s response was that she could not imagine Nassar, "doing anything questionable." The coach then discouraged her from filing a formal complaint.
How Does This Happen?
The motto of our Homeland Security is, “If you see something say something.” I’m quite sure, if someone reported they saw a person in the airport pulling a suitcase with wires hanging out of it, swift action would be taken. If someone reports that a neighbor has 22 malnourished dogs chained up in the backyard, action is taken. It doesn’t make sense to me how someone can report that they saw a football coach rape a young boy in the shower and no action is taken. I don’t understand how a gymnast can report that the team doctor violated her body and the response is, I don't think he would “do anything questionable.”
Sexual molestation/sexual abuse is a serious claim. I am not suggesting that the culture around such accusations become like that of a witch-hunt, but these allegations must be investigated. Yes, finding that it is true will ruin a career and a life, but not investigating ruins many more!
One of the best things we can do for our children is to give them age-appropriate information. Sure, these topics are difficult to discuss, but if we do not discuss them, we leave our children vulnerable. In Plain View - How Child Molesters Get Away With It, Malcolm Gladwell discusses two tactics: grooming and escalation. During the grooming stage, child molesters “ingratiate themselves into the communities they wish to exploit.” Basically, they build a positive, trustworthy reputation for themselves, so that if a child does report misconduct, it will not be believed. Another strategy is that of “escalation, desensitizing the target with an ever-expanding touch.” Most children are taught early in life that they should tell their parents if someone touches their body where a bathing suit would cover. Child molesters touch and play frequently, slowly escalating the type, intensity, and location of touch so that once the abuse begins, the child may not realize he has been violated.
~Mark 9:42 ESV
Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,
it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck
and he were thrown into the sea.
Sexual abuse is not an isolated problem. Nassar and Sandusky are not the only abusers. Every community has residents who harm children. We think we are safe because we check the Sex Offender Registry each month, but we must remember that every abuser doesn’t have a criminal record of sexual abuse. Every abuser has not been investigated. We must be on the lookout for people who are overly nice and affectionate with our children. We must be vigilant in teaching our children how to recognize the signs that someone might not be their friend. We must teach them about good touches and bad touches. We must believe them if they tell us something horrible has happened to them. We must understand that it was probably harder for them to tell us than it will be for us to act on the information. And we MUST act on the information. If it seems to fall on deaf ears, the issue must be pushed so the molester can be properly thrown into the sea.
This post is not my usual. I appreciate you reading it and I hope you can use some of this information to protect a child. The end to child sexual abuse starts with informed adults.
I invite you to share comments below.
Thank you for reading,
Have a blessed week.
Copyright 2018 Kimberly Griffith Massey
If you like this style of writing, you will enjoy Turn North: A 30-Day Devotional and Journal written by the author of this blog.