Who is more dangerous, the creepy stranger standing on the street corner or the relative/friend-of-the-family you’ve known and trusted your entire life?
I remember learning about “Stranger Danger” as a child. We were taught not to take candy from a stranger because they might through us into a van and drive off with us and we’d never be seen again. Several homes in the neighborhood were marked as safe houses – places the children could run to in case of emergency and help was needed or the children needed a safe place to hide. There was one we would stop in on the way to school every morning and watch a little cartoons while there. That’s the only thing I can remember about it, as I was only about five years old or so. I was either in Kindergarten or First Grade. I’ll catch myself here before I digress.
We were never warned about the people residing in our own homes, family members, friends of the family, yet they ARE more dangerous than strangers. Worse than that – they can get away with harming the children for years and once outed [IF (BIG IF) outed is more like it], still get away with it. After all, who wants to believe that somebody you’ve known your entire life, who is a trusted and respected member of the family and society, is not only capable of but has carried out the worst atrocities against children one couldn’t even imagine thinking about carrying out? Who wants to believe that their spouse, a person they consider their soulmate, has been sneaking into their daughter’s bed while you slept to molest their precious little girl? I couldn’t believe it when it happened to me. That is the normal reaction.
The first thought that runs through your head is that the child must’ve gotten into trouble and is trying to find a way out of trouble. Our first thought is the rarest of possibilities. Chances are, 99% of the time, the child is telling the truth yet somehow, we believe the child, that we raised to be honest and we believe we are doing a proper job in raising that child, is within that 1% of rare false reporters. We automatically believe our child is lying because we don’t think there is any possible way Uncle Daddy is the type of person to rape our children. There are not very many arrests in that area so why would we think it was possible?
Reality is that more than 90% of long-term child-sexual-abusers will never even be reported to authorities and around 95% of long-term-child-sexual-abusers will never be punished for their crimes. Most of the long-term-child-sexual-abusers who are reported, will never be charged with the crime. They get to roam freely and find their next target while you drown in the damages they’ve left behind. Children are afraid to tell for a variety of reasons, the biggest and most common being that nobody will believe them. Having experienced this in real life, within my own family, I can honestly say, those children are right.
Their abuser tells them over and over that nobody will believe them and they’d get in trouble. Their abuser is telling them the truth. So how do we change that? How do we reprogram our brain to believe the child when the child tells? That is the question and I don’t have the answer – or perhaps – education. Just as we launched the Stranger Danger program, we need a program to teach people and children the reality of child sexual abuse; that reality being somebody in your home or who visits your home on a regular basis is more likely to sexually abuse your child than a stranger is.
When a child tells, you listen. 99% of the time, it is true and isn’t it better to err on the side of safety than the side of danger?
Dwelling in the light where the monsters cannot travel,
**Please note, the numbers I used are from memory and may be off by up to 5%.**