“I was sexually abused, should I tell?”; “Should I tell my mother I was sexually abused?”; “Should you tell your spouse you were sexually abused?”; “What should you do if you were sexually abused and you can’t your mom?”; “How do I know if I’ve been sexually abused?”; “What happens if you tell you were sexually abused?”
These are some of the questions I’ve received from child sexual abuse victims over the last few weeks, from sexually abused children as young as 10 to older victims in their teens, and others that are married and have children of their own. They all wanted to know what they should do, who they can or should tell, if they should tell anyone about being sexually abused, and how to tell a parent they were sexually abused.
Yes, if someone is sexually abusing you or has sexually abused you in the past, you should tell a trustworthy adult about the abuse and as soon as possible. Why should you tell? Because keeping the abuse a secret is what your abuser wants, and you need help from adults to stop the abuse and stop the abuser from molesting or raping anyone else.
Sexual abuse statistics show that child molesters don’t molest just one person and then suddenly stop. No, pedophiles and child molesters continue to sexually abuse victims until they are caught and arrested, and the authorities are able to bring charges against your abuser so he or she can no longer harm anyone else.
As I’ve said before, most sexually abused children don’t tell because they are afraid to tell, were threatened by their abuser or because victims feel guilty, embarrassed and ashamed. It’s important for sexually abused children, teens and even adult victims to know and understand that what has happened to you is not your fault, and the person who has sexually abused you must be stopped from repeating the abuse against you or anyone else.
Unfortunately, some parents don’t react to being told their child has been sexually abused in the right way, which only creates more problems and stress for the victim. Some mothers and fathers choose not to believe their own child’s disclosure of being sexually abused. Some parents have been known to blame the victim for the abuse, going so far as to claim their child “seduced” their abuser, and/or do nothing to stop the continued abuse of their own child.
If you are being sexually abused or have been abused in the past, ask yourself who you know that will help you. Choose an adult you trust that will help you and then tell that person what has happened to you. That person may be your mother or father, a grandparent, an aunt or uncle, the school counselor, teacher, school nurse or even a police officer.
What happens when you tell? The adult you tell is required by law to tell the police or a social worker, because children of all ages have a right to be protected from sexual abuse, and the person who has abused you needs to be stopped. The social worker or police officer will need to ask you some questions about what happened to you, and if you were sexually abused in your own home, the authorities will want to talk to you somewhere else.
Read this excellent, printable, 13-page sexual abuse packet that victims of all ages and parents need to read, save to your computer and/or print off to read. The packet explains who to tell, how to tell, and what will happen when you tell in easy-to-read and easy-to-understand language even kids can understand. Kids, just click on these words —> Sexual Abuse Information Packet so you can read more on how to tell someone you were sexually abused and get the help you need.
Most children who have told about being sexually abused say it’s worth it because “telling freed them of the guilty secret”, and adults who are getting counseling after being sexually abused when they were children say “I only wish I could have told someone when I was a child.”
Should you tell a spouse you were sexually abused? Yes, you should. When you chose your husband or wife, you married him or her with life experiences that shapes who you are today, and the effects of having been sexually abused can take a long time to recover from, if ever.
Trusting your spouse to be there for you through “better or worse” includes those times when sharing painful memories of past experiences and abuse not only brings you closer together, but helps take away some of the negative self-esteem feelings many victims hold onto for many years and a loving, supportive spouse can make all the difference in the world.