Sexual Abuse- A Silent Epidemic

Trap the child in a coat of armor.
Protect her from the one who harms her.
Hide her terror, her shame, her fears.
Smother the anger, absorb the tears.

Keep the child inside her still.
Suffocate her childhood will.
Before she’s ready make her be
a child with adult responsibility.

Little grown-up carries the weight
of mother’s inadequacy, father’s hate.
Short blonde ponytails perfectly deceive;
others see only what they want to believe.

Childhood tragedy: the child torn away,
stripped of careless, frivolous play.
Replaced by demands of distorted lives,
too many years and the freedom dies.

Locked in her armor, tightly secured,
her role in the family no longer obscure.
Little-girl adult diligently tries
to keep the balance in a family of lies.

Trap the child in a coat of armor.
Protect her from the one who harms her.
Hide her terror, her shame, her fears.
Smother the anger, absorb the tears.

This poem is an excerpt from the book Ancient Child: Poetry about Incest written by Marcella Bryant who experienced horrific sexual abuse at the hands of her father and ignored by her mother.

Ancient Child 2

So what happens to the adult survivor of childhood abuse when untreated?

Counseling Today: An American Counseling Association Publication (July 2014, volume 57/ Number 1) explains that the results of over 50 studies indicate a direct correlation between adult survivors of childhood abuse and many physical health conditions including heart disease, obesity, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and liver disease. These individuals also demonstrate increased struggles with depression, anxiety, suicidality and many other mental health issues.

Im a Survivor Final

Sexual abuse is an epidemic that has no biases

While sexual abuse is most common in children, they are not the only victims. The American Psychological Association defines sexual abuse as an

” unwanted sexual activity, with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of victims not able to give consent. Most victims and perpetrators know each other. Immediate reactions to sexual abuse include shock, fear or disbelief. Long-term symptoms include anxiety, fear or post-traumatic stress disorder.”  (http://www.apa.org/topics/sexual-abuse/index.aspx)

Sexual Abuse effects children, college students, married women, company executives and everything in between.  Due to the stigma and shame surrounding it, sexual abuse is severely underreported. Victims often go years, if at all, before they break their silence and get help. The purpose of this blog is not only to create awareness and conversation around this topic, but also to encourage those personally affected by sexual abuse to get help. Regardless of how long ago the incidents occurred, untreated, the painful memories could continue to echo far into the future and/or have a serious impact on your physical health as well.

The effects do not have to last for the rest of your life

The good news is, research has shown therapeutic interventions can help prevent long-term, chronic psychological consequences. If you or someone you know has been effected by sexual abuse I encourage you to get help today. It is NOT your fault – no ALWAYS means NO!

To those of you who have been fortunate enough not to have been a victim of sexual abuse – the good news is you have the ability to help heal survivors by showing them love and compassion. You also have the ability to contribute to the reason that victims often suffer in silence by victim blaming. Which do you choose?

victimblaming101

National Sexual Assault Hotline : 1-800-656-HOPE

 

 

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