Home » Human Rights » Abused Children Are Not Victims but Survivors

Children who have been abused have for some time been pictured as victims in most documentaries and stories but if one considers the trauma the young mind would undergo they would realise that those children are survivors. Child survivors of abuse often feel very confused about the abuse while it is ongoing. Offenders use fun or care taking activities to push the boundaries of a child and create a bond, such as teaching innocent hygiene and introducing games, but including “accidental” sexual touching.

It is common that survivors wait until they are into their adult hood to share their secret. For many male victims, the shame and secrecy is compounded by the fear that their own sexuality may have something to do with it, or at least that others will think so. We must look at the stories of children with the eyes of children and recognise that a 10-year-old or 14-year-old boy has little language or understanding of human sexuality, and may have a very difficult time understanding that manipulation, abuse, exploitation and violence are not related to their own sexuality.

Delayed reporting of sexual abuse is a common, normal reaction from someone who has experienced traumatic events.

It is common for survivors of sexual abuse to continue relationships with their abusers after the abuse has stopped. Individuals react to trauma in different ways. For example, it is common for victims to maintain contact with their abusers because they may still feel affection for them even though they hate the abuse.

This is especially normal when the abuser is a member of the family or a close family friend. It is also common for some victims to maintain contact in an attempt to regain control over their assault. Others may maintain contact in an attempt to regain a feeling of normalcy.

“It is very sad that some relatives take aantage of the young children in the family and abuse them. It is the obligation of the adult family members to take care of us the young people not to destroy our future. As a teenager if you have been abused you should approach preferably a trusted family member and narrate what would have transpired and you will find help,” said Tinayeishe Dube, Daramombe student.

Contrary to popular beliefs, rapists of children are generally not strangers lurking in the bushes. According to the Russell survey, 89 percent of child sexual assault cases involve persons known to the survivor, such as a caregiver or a family acquaintance. The most highly reported cases of incest involve a father and a daughter. The entire family unit is often dysfunctional in cases of incest.

“I want to urge my fellow young people to notice what is normal and what is not in terms of closeness, even in the family set up and run with your lives the second you sense the adults may have wrong intentions. Also to young people that were abused I just want to say that it was not your fault and you should not give up, work hard in school and achieve your goals, you are a victor,” said Ester Munyaradzi, a Dzivaresekwa 2 High student.

In cases where the perpetrator is a relative or caretaker involves more traumas to the child survivor because the child’s trust has been betrayed and his or her sense of personal safety within the family is disrupted. The child also feels betrayed by other family members like the mother or siblings who they feel could or should have intervened but chose not to.

The law requires that all cases of child abuse, in any form, be reported to the authorities.

A simple tool and habit that can help children to be safe is to learn to say “NO” when they need to. Saying or yelling “NO!” is a powerful tool and let children know they have the right to say it.

Source : The Herald

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