I scrolled through the article and at the end came across the comments.
"Why go to a movie with a married man " said one commenter.
"The timing of her disclosure makes me skeptical " said another.
"Don't tell me she didn't know what she was doing " another berates.
"What is the point of bringing it up now if the statute of limitations has passed " accuses another.
The comments continue further down the page. The more and more I read the sadder I feel.
How can we possible expect victims of abuse to speak out if we belittle them when they do?
How can we create an open conversation where people are supported for taking the brave step of speaking out when they are criticised: from what they were wearing to who they were with – even how long they took to speak out.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually abused in their lifetime.
This culture of accusation only perpetuates the silence victims of abuse struggle with.
Abuse is not straightforward. It is not a case of A to B and then to C. Everyone’s circumstances are different, everyone has a different journey to travel. A different story to tell.
Recent statistics state that 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach 18. ( aic.gov.au )
You are more likely to be abused in the first 18 years of your life than the other 70.
You are also more likely to be sexually abused by someone you know. In fact 90% of abuse victims knew the attacker and in most instances the crime was committed in their own home or in the home of a close relative or friend.
'An understanding of child sex offenders, based on the available evidence, is critical if child sexual abuse is to be prevented and responded to in effective ways.' (aic.gov.au)
Child sexual abuse is any sexual act or threat to a child or young person under the age of 16 that causes them harm or causes them to be frightened or fearful.
From my own experience - from when someone I knew attempted to groom me and then sexually assaulted me, on more than one occasion, at the age of 13. Through to the first time I told someone at 16 I was abused and beyond into adult hood I have heard similar words from many, often with well meaning intentions, but nevertheless a hugely misguided understanding of the depth and severity of the emotional wound and subsequent scarring on this, my own journey of survival.
I have been told:
" If it was me, I would try and forget it."
I have been told:
" I hope one day that the saviour can help you ...hand it over to the Lord and move forward."
I have been told (on asking for support):
“If I have to”
Worse than these sentences which reverberate around the inside of my skull, taunting me and quashing my self worth, telling me that I should be further along in my healing or - not need healing at all. Worse than the depression, the anxiety and the subsequent PTSD is the deafening silence, which occurs after the “advice” is given.
The judgement hangs in the air like a stifling hot day with no wind, the air barely breathable.
Moreover, the only truth about it is that it is more a reflection on the critic than on the aspirants themselves.
If victims of abuse are to feel validated and heard. If we are to feel loved and supported. .. If you would like to know how to help us feel safe.
Simply, just, listen.