American Culture

Child abuse: For S. – “I never liked her. She was always such an overtly sexual child.”

Yes, that’s actually what my mother said.

S’s mother and my mother were very close friends going back to their high school days, so S. and I grew up together, ultimately losing touch as adults. When her father died of a heart attack, she made a nearly successful effort to commit suicide. What came out of the suicide attempt was that S. had, in fact, been molested by her father from a very early age.

So my mother told me about what had happened, about the molestation and the suicide attempt. And then she added, “I never liked her. She was always such an overtly sexual child.”

So because of that, she just didn’t like the child? Why in the hell did she never think to wonder why a child might seem prematurely sexual? Even as a child, I realized S’s father was really weird. Surely my mother had to realize that he was weird too – it really was unmistakable (yeah, molesters can and most often do seem perfectly normal, but, trust me, this guy didn’t). Instead of finding something “off” about the father, however, my mother “never liked” this apparently sexualized little girl. She never thought to talk to one of her dearest friends with concern for that friend’s child…WTF???

I think that my mother, who calls herself a feminist, has really indulged in victim blaming here. It makes me ill – well, angry and ill.

I can’t believe I actually have to point this out, but since even a woman as brilliant as my mother apparently doesn’t know any better, I guess I will point it out. If you encounter a child who seems sexual in an age-inappropriate way, don’t dislike the child for it (geez!). Look to your intuition – does anyone around the child set off any sort of “off” feeling in you? Talk to a parent. Report it to the authorities…do something to get the child some help. Please!

The National Center for Victims of Crime reports that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. Yes, 1 in 5 American girls! The Center also reports on the effects of sexual abuse on victims. Last I heard of S., she was an addict of some sort and her in-laws had won custody of her children. Please know the signs of child sexual abuse and, again, take action.

4 replies »

  1. Its painful the way we miss those signs that are directly under our noses because we aren’t paying attention.
    We owe it to ourselves to correct the mistakes of the previous generation. No child should be a victim of sexual abuse, it destroys their minds.
    Beautiful piece

  2. I used to think those numbers were exaggerated, but through my wife (she was molested as a child for years) I’ve discovered how many of her friends have been, and I now fully believe those numbers. I’ve heard 1-in-4 and even 1-in-3 for girls.

  3. Yeah, RetroHound, it is hard to believe but true. Same with rape statistics. I would be hard pressed to think of one of my female friends or relatives who HASN’T been raped.

    Thanks everyone for the comments.

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