CSA FAQ by Arpan Part 2
Q6. Why don’t children disclose the abuse immediately?
There are many reasons why children do not reveal the incident of abuse immediately or do not disclose it ever.
a) In certain situations, because of what children are taught about sex and sexuality, children often do not perceive it as a violation, or as abnormal/unnatural, especially if the sexual abuse is perpetuated in a way that the child perceives as being gentle and loving. In the absence of any understanding of ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ touch children could equate the sexual abuse as an expression of love and the abuser as someone who loves and cares for them.
b) In some circumstances, when children identify the violation, they feel confused and afraid to communicate. They also fear that nobody will believe them, as, in most cases, the offender is someone well known and well loved by the family and possibly someone in a position of power as well.
c) The child/youth could be afraid of being blamed for what happened – for being chosen by the offender, for being available to the offender and for complying with the offender.
d) The child could feel shame from being labeled as a victim, for not being able to seek help and report abuse.
e) The child could be afraid of losing the love of parents or even losing the love of the offender (who is often a known person/relative/caregiver).
f) The child may be afraid of the offender’s threat to harm the child or her/his family.
In order to keep the abuse to themselves for these reasons, children often convince themselves that what happened was just a dream or an accident or that they imagined it – or they convince themselves that they can cope with what happened because telling would be even worse.
Q7. When do children disclose abuse?
There are several situations which might make a child disclose abuse. For example, when they feel that their abuser might also harm someone else they love, like a friend or a sibling. They might also disclose when they feel like they can’t endure the pain and trauma any longer.
However, what really allows children to disclose abuse is having an environment that is supportive, trusting and empathetic. Children, usually, only disclose to people who can make them feel safe. They will only trust people who they know will listen to them, help them and not blame them for what happened to them.