Recently, National Public Radio (NPR) had a show on child sexual abuse in light of a recent grand jury indictment that led to child sexual abuse charges for Jerry Sandusky, former defensive coach for Penn State University.
Mitru Ciarlante, director of the Youth Initiative at the National Center for Victims of Crime
"I think what it does for all children who are abused sexually, it's a great betrayal of the trust that they had." said Mitru Ciarlante, director of the Youth Initiative at the National Center for Victims of Crime and a member of the advisory board at The William Kellibrew Foundation. "Most of the time, the abuser is someone known and trusted by the child and the family. So one effect that sexual abuse has on children is to betray that trust that they had, that adults are here to take care of children and look out for children and help keep them safe."
As a survivor of child sexual abuse at age 6, I know the violation of trust and ultimate betrayal very well that Mitru is referring to. My mother's friend and neighbor used fixing the flat tire on my bicycle and payment of one hundred pennies to keep me silent. I still remember what I purchased with those pennies, a coke and an arcade game at a nearby bowling alley.
My silence for over 8 years ripped me a part inside and was unbearable at one point. It was my assistant principal, Mr. Charles C. Christian, childhood social worker, Ms. Christine Pierre and my grandmother, Ms. Delores Short who collectively intervened to influence me not to take my own life at thirteen. The role that teachers, school staff, health professionals, family and others played in my recovery was very important in my continued positive development as a child. I turned to the performing arts, creative writing, tennis and other sports to help me cope with my trauma. I also believe that telling my story gives others the courage to tell theirs. Breaking the silence is key, but making sure there is a safe place emotionally and physically is even more important.
In addition, therapy was a turning point. It provided me with a safe place to break the silence about my abuse and feelings that clouded my thinking and judgment. The process is long and arduous, but through the process there is hope and help. I am eternally thankful for the therapy and support from others.
Thanks to Mitru and others who constantly give their lives to protecting children. Countless lives have been and will be saved as a result of their work.
Listen to the NPR audio version or read the transcript here.
Also, visit the websites below for more information on the issue of child sexual abuse.
American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
National Children's Alliance
In the movement to help save lives,