If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, like me, you may also rejoice to read such a headline, knowing that three women in Ohio are finally free from years of sexual abuse.
But I also have questions.
Questions like: why is everyone outraged by this incident and so often in denial about the sexual abuse that happens (and is happening) day-after-day and year-after-year in our homes, within our families, in our churches, schools and communities?
What about all of the male and female victims who have never dared tell their horrendous stories? Or, what of the countless survivors who continue in a prison of abandonment and shame because no one ever believed their story or acted to rescue them?
While stories such as the one in Ohio gives us hope, for those still living in silence, it can be a cutting reminder of the pain we still endured.
Did you also read that Ariel Castro, 52, the “man accused of imprisoning three women for a decade in his Cleveland home wrote a lengthy manifesto in which he contemplated suicide, referred to his own sexual abuse. . .” (Emphasis added). This is not usual. When a young innocent child, male or female is sexually abused the effects and destruction are often far reaching.
While, most survivors of sexual abuse do not go on to be abusers it also true that nearly all perpetrators of sexual assault were themselves subjected to sexual abuse.
Ideally, we would discover a way to prevent all sexual assault and we must continue to strive to keep all children safe from sexual predators. Secondly, if those who are wounded by such evil can find healing the vicious cycle of perversion and pain could be stopped.
It’s time to break the silence of sexual abuse. If you are a survivor who has never spoken to a trusted person about what happened to you, this story may be the platform you need to take that that first step toward healing.
And if you are a parent, I encourage you to watch and listen. If your child doesn’t seem to want to be with a certain adult, peer or sibling, take steps to gently find out why. Most often, victims of sexual abuse know and trust the perpetrator. The case in Ohio is unusual and sensational because it was ‘stranger abduction’. Yet, it is just as horrifying, and maybe even more so, when it is your parent, older sibling, uncle, priest, babysitter, teacher or neighbor who hurts you in this way.
May news reports such as this, cause us all to stop denying the danger and horror of sexual abuse and take steps to bring such evil actions into the open so that victims can find healing and the cycle of abuse can be stopped.