Children who have experienced sexual abuse
are afraid of the consequences of telling
. The offender
has used fear
to keep the secret
untold. Children are afraid of what other people will think and feel when they find out about the abuse. They are afraid of what will happen to them and their families. They may be afraid of what will happen to the offender. Children have been told many things by the offender, and they believe them. They remain quiet
and the abuse continues.
Children are afraid that they:
- Will not be believed
- Will be rejected by their mothers
- Will be blamed for the abuse
- Will hurt their families
- Will be thought of as dirty and ugly
- Will be rejected and the offender will be supported
Sometimes children are afraid of what will happen to the offender. He may be an important person in their lives like a father, uncle, or brother. They may fear the offender:
- Will be rejected
- Will be put in jail or prison
- Will commit suicide
- Will be beaten up by angry family members
Children have usually been taught to fear the consequences of telling. They may have been told:
- "No one will believe you."
- "You will be taken away and put in a foster home."
- "Your family will be broken up and it will be your fault."
- "Everyone in the family will reject you."
- "No one will ever want to marry you."
- "I will hurt you," "hurt your dog (pet)," "hurt your brother."
- If you tell, nothing will happen, and I'll abuse your little sister next."
Children feel helpless and powerless. They fear that telling will not matter or make a difference. They fear:
- Telling will not make a difference.
- Everything will stay the same.
- Nobody can stop the abuse.
- Things will get worse than they are.