Sharing – What dismissal of child sexual abuse by parents, caregivers does to survivors
This article is written about India, and I think it’s possible that a few of you will read this and think to yourself that this is something that happens in cultures like that. One where a high priority is put on the family and not shaming or embarrassing your family in any way. That may be true, but I challenge you to understand how many survivors, male and female, have had the same kind of response across every culture.
After his abuser left, Ritesh finally mustered the courage to tell his parents about the sexual assault. “They told me that it doesn’t happen to boys, that I had a vivid imagination and so was making it all up. They also said that I was hanging out with the wrong company. They dismissed me, asking me to get back to studies, that it’s something I should not be talking about and what will people think,” recalls Ritesh.
When we talk about why survivors don’t talk about what happened, why the effects can be so long-lasting, and why we are still extremely hesitant to talk to anyone about it, please understand the kind of damage done when a young child is not believed, or not allowed access to the kind of help that might make healing possible before we get to an adulthood full of poor relationships and lack of social skills and emotional intelligence.
Understand the extra damage done, and remember that your own discomfort about the subject is nothing compared to what the survivor is going to go through.