childhood sexual abuse :: hush little baby don’t say a word.

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“He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured.”

This is Mukoko ‘s first post about sexuality and, to begin with, we’ll need to go way back. This might be hard for some of us because childhood sexual abuse is not just a topic of discussion, but a personal experience. And maybe something that you hate thinking about. That may even be true for someone who has never experienced it themselves but is close to someone who has.

Don’t stop reading now.

Don’t stop reading because this issue is important. Make a decision that you’re going to engage with what’s being said here today. Look out for the questions that you can respond to at the end.

Our little secret

When I was a little girl I was terrible at keeping secrets. I just could not keep my mouth shut about anything and my older sister hated it! I was always running and “telling on” her to mommy.

When did you first learn to keep secrets?

Many of us have secrets in our hearts that we have kept for years. Stuff that even those closest to us do not know. An 80 year old woman who has never told anyone about what her uncle did when she was just 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 years old. Before he moved away. He would slither in, whisper to her in his raspy voice, and slither out again.

It was their little secret, he hissed, she dare not tell anyone else.

At some point in our childhoods we learned that some things should be concealed or hidden from others, especially bad things. We learned that certain truths can get people hurt.

“If you tell anyone what happened here, you’ll go to jail forever/ your mom and dad will die.” Back then we kept secrets because we had a distorted view of things, not old enough to reason. Feeling some kind of responsibility for what was happening.

That was us as children.

Why do we continue to keep these secrets in our adulthood, years later, sometimes even long after the abuser has died?

Many of us reading this right now (most of us in our twenties and thirties) had a sexual encounter in our childhood that we have never told anyone about. Or one that was discovered and then quickly swept under the carpet and never raised again. Why?

Let the little children come to Me.

Read Luke 2. A newborn baby in a manger. God incarnate in a teeny-weeny bundle – what a powerful mystery Christmas presents! God works in mysterious ways. We may never comprehend the deep meaning of Christmas in the eternal sense but today we know this: Jesus the Christ is not distant or uncaring. He knows what it is to have the mind of a child – vulnerable and dependent.

He knows our secrets and our reasons. And he cares.

Your turn:

Given the prevalence of sexual abuse of children, why do you think there is still so much secrecy and silence about it in our homes?

Leave your comment below, let’s start a conversation.

Honey love

Shula.

Would love to hear from you! If you’d like to contact Shula personally email realmukoko@gmail.com

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5 thoughts on “childhood sexual abuse :: hush little baby don’t say a word.

  1. Uhm, hi. I’m a male in my 20’s.i have never been a victim of sexual abuse, nor have I heard of any cases within the family, probably because I’m still a kid, so in no way do I view my opinion on the matter as ‘cast in stone’. I feel that a lot of families, and victims in the black context keep quiet about such things for two primary reasons. 1. men are still viewed as people who have no control over their testosterone and therefore should be forgiven for acting on their urges. And 2. often, the perpetrator is a bread-winner in the house and his absence would be greatly felt. naturally there are more reasons, but I’d like to address these two in my comment. 1. there is absolutely no excuse for harming a child or woman, be it sexually, verbally, physically, or in any other way. growing up, my friends used to use a term to joke around, “No means no, and anything beyond that is rape” we used the term when refusing a dare from someone or in other silly circumstances, but the term has stuck in my mind ever since. no means no, full stop. whether your testosterone levels are making you feel like a raging bull, or whatever, if there is no consent (and anyone below the age of 18 cannot give consent. I don’t care about new laws) then too bad. 2. I’m glad we live in a society where women are learning to be financially independent, but some households still exist where the men are the only bread-winners. I feel that we need to move away from the notion that without him, the family won’t survive. There has been many a testimony of a sole bread-winner dying and the family still surviving. If that can happen to them, then I say rather take the chance and defend the helpless, rather that being sure of a full stomach and a heavy conscious every night.

    As a society, let us continue to empower women, educate children, and train men, not 40 year old boys, so that we reach a point in society where the tinniest squeak is just as important as the loudest of bellows.

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  2. Hi Shula . This subject is a very intense and emotive one. Even in the West , where there are a lot of support structures for the victims of childhood sexual abuse, I have seen the devastating aftermath of such revelations. The stigma of sexual abuse is often difficult to deal with and when the victim and perpetrator belong to the same family ( as is often the case), people don’t know what to do. Logic says one should align themselves with the victim but often logic has nothing to do with it and the complexities of it all result in the victim being accused of ulterior motives and rejected by their families. So they suffer a triple whammy: re-living those experiences again – the emotions they have buried in deep dark places, dealing with the legal process and the most painful, dealing with conflict within the family which sometimes results in rejection.

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    1. Dear ndlovukazi I found your comment so insightful. Stigma really is a powerful thing, we see it even in the case of rape victims who are not only ostracized by their families/ communities but blamed for somehow attracting it. I find it interesting that you have observed that problem in the West, I’ve always assumed that silence was mostly “Africa’s problem”. I understand the motivations/fears of a victim (I know people don’t like that word) who would rather not speak out about it. But what about families who reject the victim? I even know of mothers who have disowned theirs daughters for reporting the abuse to the family/police. Why? Or families who protect a known abuser who (more often than not) will repeat the offence? That is something I struggle to wrap my mind around.

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    2. Your comment is well stated. In the US here; my immediate and extended family have rejected me after coming out about years of childhood abuse by the hands of my brother. Though it is painful, others have been revealed to me who are strong, supportive listeners. I feel free of the dynamic that enabled and rewarded abuse. This issue is so very complex so thank you for making noise about it!

      Frametheshame@blogspot.com

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      1. Hi Mary Thank you for checking this post out and sharing a little bit of your experience. “I feel free of the dynamic that enabled and rewarded the abuse…” – such a powerful statement Mary! Do you have a blog where you write about these issues?

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