We teach our children to beware of the dangers of strangers. We tell them not to walk alone at night. We tell them not to get in a car with anyone without our consent. We tell them not to let anyone touch them in a bad way. We have childrens' books with pictures of scary monsters with mangled bodies and twisted faces. But the reality is some of the monsters out there who can hurt our children are everyday people. People sometimes close to their own age who look "normal" by all standards of the word.
Maybe, this is why there is so much fear and shame for a child who is molested or abused by someone they were never taught to distrust. I feel such guilt for what my child is going through right now. I never suspected that his cousin (five years older) would sexually abuse him. It never occurred to me to question the older cousin's motives for always wanting to include my son when most of the older boys didn't want the youngest little 5th wheel going where they went all the time. I look back now and see that all the signs were there. My child became withdrawn when the abuse began. He was tearful and afraid of things that had never bothered him before. When the cousin would spend the night, he would BEG to sleep with his father and me.
How could I have been so very blind ? I was sexually molested by a family member as a child. I should have seen the signs !
Then there is the shame. Any abuse is a horrible thing, but when it is a male child abused by another male, it seems to harbor so much more shame. The first thing my son said when we asked WHY he hadn't told us sooner was that he didn't want to be called "gay". My husband and I explained to him that sexual abuse is never about being straight or gay -- it is in fact, simply a violent crime committed against a child.
Some might say that it could be damaging to my son to speak out so publically about this. But I feel just the opposite. I was forced to hide the horrible secret about my family member. It seemed the abuser needed to be protected. Family loyalty was more important than the well-being of a child. Before my son told us the awful truth, he had frequent nightmares, couldn't sleep and thought constantly about death. He said since he spoke up, he feels less anxiety and wants to talk about it. He wants the abuser outted for the criminal he is.
And speak out we shall. This young man was a teenager when he was abusing my son. He is now of age and more dangerous to young children than ever. He hides behind his mother's apron strings, but we are hoping that the criminal justice system will rip him from his comfort zone and at the very least acknowledge him for what he truly is so that it will be more difficult in the future for him to abuse another child.
Our family loyalty should always be to our children. Abusers need to be the ones who are ashamed of what they've done !