Reporting Sexual Abuse, the Dilemma

sexual abuse

Reconnecting with an old friend recently, she shared with me the fact that she believes she was a victim of sexual abuse. This happened over the span of several years, long ago when she was a pre-teen. The memories are vague, but still haunting. She believes the extent of the abuse involved inappropriate touching as well as exhibitionism but is not sure whether anything more happened.

Her dilemma was and still is, the fact that she never reported or addressed the abuse. In retrospect, she regrets not doing either. Her life has been adversely affected for years, especially her romantic relationships.

Why did she not report it at the time or over the years? There were many reasons. At least in her mind.

She Said, He Said

At the time, she didn’t think anyone would believe her, especially her parents. The abuser is a family member, an older sibling who could do no wrong in their parents’ eyes.

She Loves her Brother, Didn’t Want to get him in Trouble

As they both grew up, the chances to report the abuse just seemed to slip away. There was never a good time. When she was old enough to recognize the abuse for what it was and how it was affecting her life, she didn’t know how to proceed. First off, she didn’t want to upset her aging parents with the shocking allegations. Then she didn’t want to ruin the abuser’s marriage, then his children’s lives. The list goes on and on.

She Felt Guilty

As a preteen at the time of the sexual abuse, she really didn’t know any better. Although his actions made her uncomfortable, was this normal behaviour? If it was wrong, why did she permit it to happen over and over again without speaking up? Who could or should she tell? These were the days well before Google and the internet.

She Thought She Could Live With It

She figured if she didn’t talk about the abuse, eventually, she would forget about it. Unfortunately for her, the suppressed feelings never quite went away, remaining bottled up for years. She never confided in anyone. All of her memories from those years remain quite vague, a fact that makes her wonder what really happened. Is her lack of memory a defense mechanism where her brain has blocked out the details?

Fast Forward to Today

These days, sexual abuse cases are prevalent in the courts. The Me Too movement has arrived. Many are legitimate, albeit ancient cases. Others are not so believable, unprovable, sometimes merely vengeful cases. The latter are reported (created) for attention or defamation. It is great that legitimate victims have come forward and their abusers punished. However, we are living in a messed up world when the person accused of abuse turns out to be the victim.

We now know though that sexual abuse does not necessarily include intercourse. It is more about the power the abuser has over the victim. Is this surge in reported sexual abuse cases because women are braver today? Or because society has realized and accepted that abuse of any kind is unacceptable?

So, what should my friend do? Continue to keep quiet? Confront her abuser? Report the abuse even though fifty years have gone by? What would that accomplish after so many years, other than rip her very extended family apart? What is the statute of limitations on sexual abuse? Is there one? She had lots of questions that I could not answer.

I could only listen as she vented, realizing I don’t know how I would deal with such a traumatic dilemma. I suggested therapy with an expert on such cases to help her weigh her options.

sexual abuse
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The December birthday dilemma

Many people with December birthdays hate the fact that their birthday falls in the same month as Christmas.  In fact, there are so many of you that feel this way, this picture gets posted on Facebook every year…

I can understand how December birthdays can be annoying or frustrating for some people.  If your birthday comes just before Christmas, your birthday may get lumped in with Christmas. If the birthday falls closely after Christmas, it may get forgotten altogether.   A friend whose birthday was this week just told me that she used to get half of a gift for her birthday and the other half for Christmas.  For example, one year she received one ice skate on the 7th of December for her birthday and the matching skate on the 25th for Christmas.  Now that seems a little extreme!

I can also understand how a December birthday can create a dilemma for some families.  My dilemma was (I admit I should have gotten over it long ago) that my eldest son was born on the 12th, fairly close to Christmas.  When he was young, I would not start decorating or preparing for Christmas until the 13th when his birthday was over.  I told myself this practice was for his sake so he would not confuse his birthday with Christmas.  Since he has moved out he seems to be quite content with starting his Christmas shopping and decorating earlier than the 13th.  So, I guess that proves the dilemma is of my own creation, and could easily be fixed.

Today, two days earlier than usual on the 11th, I started my Christmas shopping, but first I dropped off my son’s birthday present at his new home…

You will notice two identical birthday presents here.  One is for my son and the other for his girlfriend whose birthday is also in December. As they will be on vacation on her actual birthday, she is getting hers early. That’s the excuse I am using, because the two gifts are a set, for both of them, and to give half the present on his birthday and half on hers two weeks later seems much too similar to the story I told above.

I haven’t mentioned yet, her birthday is after Christmas, on the 31st of December!  A New Year’s Eve baby; now that’s a whole new dilemma!

What’s religion got to do with it?

This reblog about the  controversial, global dilemma of accepting refugees was titled “In which I tell you how religion works” but I have put my own slant on it.  I like the message from it, just do not want to imply that I have the knowledge or desire to tell anyone how religion works…