Childhood sexual abuse survivors often say to themselves, “I guess it wasn’t really that bad?” Often there are others in our lives, perhaps family members or friends, who ask us…”Now, it wasn’t that bad, was it?” No one can believe that something that happened so quick could have such long-lasting ramifications. People seem to think that if the child was young enough and unable to understand what happened to her – that the abuse did no harm. Maybe some folks are reluctant to blame the perpetrator thinking that a slight touch of the hand or some other indiscretion was just an unfortunate accident…a mistake. Sexual abuse is a planned decision – not an accident. Our bodies know the difference; they are wired for truth. Created in the image of God, our bodies are designed uniquely and wonderfully. While the mind may not fully grasp the violation done against both body and soul – the body knows. The idea that no harm was done because an incident may have lasted only seconds or a couple of minutes is a fallacy. Some might suggest that a sleeping child would have no awareness; therefore, no harm done. While in a state of sleep, the body will still imprint the touch memories. (Many children fake sleep hoping that the perpetrator will just go away.) Even if the child, or the child who is now an adult, has no conscious memory due to dissociation – there CAN still be lifelong repercussions.
How bad is “that” bad?
What does it take to be bad enough? Here’s an analogy.
A bank was robbed and the burglar only made off with only a few hundred dollars…not the thousands of dollars that were kept in the bank vault. The bank discovered the thief was a longtime, trusted employee. The bank still considered it a crime even though so much more could have been stolen. Though the employee didn’t take “that” much, the bank could never trust them again. The crime was handled by the proper authorities (the police, judge and jury) and the convict, after serving time, was never allowed to work in the banking industry again.
Any sexual abuse is “that” bad.
It doesn’t have to include vaginal or anal penetration to be damaging. Maybe it’s only a quick touch in a private place but if it is done for the sexual arousal of the perpetrator, (or a power trip for the perpetrator) then it is at the expense of the victim and is harmful. A child required to view pornography, or to witness sexual acts has also been violated and may suffer the consequences in due time.
When a child is abused by a parent she/he has no place to turn for safety. The very structure, the family, which God set up for the child’s protection failed. The distinction of degrees makes no difference. The sexual act itself is rarely as awful for the child as the damage done because of the broken trust. If a single drop of venom will do…a cup is unnecessary. The body- It knows. Wrongful touches, glances, and exposure to things the child shouldn’t see are received as poison.
Unresolved childhood abuse issues cause many survivors to live in a constant state of crisis or paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. Frequent job changes, relocations, and failed relationships are common. Internal chaos often keeps a survivor feeling hopeless, helpless, and alone. Depression, anxiety, and phobias are often experienced. Other issues include sexual problems, somatic concerns, and suicidal ideation. There are a variety of mechanisms that are used to cope. These are a few.
- Drug or Alcohol abuse
- Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia)
- Self-harm (cutting, burning)
There is no such thing as “not bad” sexual abuse.
It is true that some abuse situations are more severe physically and might result in bleeding, tearing, rupturing, or death. However, sexual abuse that is not overtly violent may lead to emotional, psychological and physiological disturbances that could in time lead to death.
“The truth about childhood is stored up in our body and lives in the depth of our soul. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings can be numbed and manipulated, our perceptions shamed and confused, our bodies tricked with medication. But our soul never forgets. And we are one whole soul in one body, someday our body will present it’s bill.”
– Alice Miller
The Last Battle Blog aims to provide meaningful tools and information about the issue of sexual violation. We offer a way to express yourself, as you engage in your own personal awareness and share your strengths with others. Our goal is to cover a variety of topics, stories, ideas, and to create a blog that is beneficial and honoring to those who read it. Last Battle’s contributing authors help make this happen.