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#400102 - 06/11/12 10:00 AM Should outsiders have recognized or reported?
learning2remember Offline

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 403
Loc: Europe
Sometimes I wonder if people outside my family (teachers, friends, etc.) should have been able to see something was wrong. I'm not sure they would have seen enough to tell something was wrong. Maybe, if one person had seen all of the things, they would have had a clue. I don't know. I wonder, if I saw all if these things in another family, would I suspect sexual abuse? What would I do?

I won't describe the primary acts themselves, just things that others observed or could have.

Here are odds and ends, in no particular order:

1) When I was around 15, my mother raved to others about how nicely my body had developed when I became active in a sport. I remember her doing this on the phone with a friend's mother and, although I couldn't hear the other end, I heard Mom say, "Oh, no, I didn't mean it like that."

2) When I was nine or 10 we had to trace scissors on a piece of paper, and make the outline into a picture. Kids drew flowers, two-headed giants, etc. I drew a man and woman in bed together, one on top of the other.

3) Both of my brothers were also caught drawing obscene pictures around that age.

4) Even in front of my brothers' friends (They'd have been early-mid teens, I was 8, 9, 10, maybe even 13.), when we were watching tv I would lay on my stomach and thrust my pelvis into the floor. I didn't know I was masterbating at the time, but found out later others could tell. I just didn't understand, but they saw it.

5) I remember once trying on new jeans, very tight, too tight now that I think about it, and the sales clerk was right there, Mom didn't like them,but I vaguely remember being uncomfortable how she was talking about them.

6) When my grandfather died and a youth worker from church came over, she came into my room and I started to change in front of her. She left VERY quickly.

7) When he died and we were going through his things, she gave me his pornographic calendar, right in front of uncles, cousins, etc.
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

#400117 - 06/11/12 04:58 PM Re: Should outsiders have recognized or reported? [Re: learning2remember]
Publius Offline

Registered: 03/13/12
Posts: 444
Loc: OH
Denial of CSA in particular, not to mention its ramifications, is a staple of society. Numbers 2, 3, 6, and 7 jump off the screen at me as suspect behavior, especially the first two. The thing about detecting CSA is we really don't need to pay as much attention to the adults because they are so good at hiding their behavior. On the other hand, children give the secret away even if they are unlikely to "tell." Sudden personality trait changes, "acting out," "acting in," etc.

I actually told my mom about what a neighbor boy "wanted me to do." I described all the sexual things I did not fully understand and when my mom went to the principal she said "he would not be able to describe these things if he had not seen or experienced them." My mom also noted changes in my personality to something more melancholy, unwillingness to sleep in my bed, and other obvious signs of CSA. Unfortunately, the week my mom contacted the school was the same week an old pastor from its church was exposed as a child rapist. The school guidance counselor saw me once without consulting my mother and without her presence and determined I had been "sexually pressured" but not abused - whatever the fuck that means. I guess he did not want to deal with my abuse and neither did my parents/principal given they dropped the subject after one session.

I, for one, believe it was something more deliberate and am happy that instead of receiving treatment immediately I got to suffer through 22 years of survival before the onset of recovery so that my school/Church could avoid the subject...

In short, if you see any symptoms of CSA in a child contact family services and/or the police and tell them what you know. Let them make the determination. Some might say we are hyper-sensitive and that would be true. After all, we survivors can recognize ourselves and what we have been through in others far better than non-survivors, who sometimes gloss over the facts in order to avoid the reality of CSA.

Edited by Publius (06/11/12 05:09 PM)
"Life is like this dark tunnel. You may not always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you keep moving, you will come to a better place." ~ General Iroh

#400155 - 06/12/12 12:14 AM Re: Should outsiders have recognized or reported? [Re: learning2remember]
traveler Offline

Registered: 02/07/06
Posts: 4199
Loc: resettling in NE Ohio
Learning -

when you list the signs all together, the answer is - YES - someone "should" have noticed and recognized the red flags. but chances are that different people saw different things and no one saw enough symptoms - as in more than just a couple - to thoroughly convince themselves that they needed to intervene. inertia is a powerful force. nobody wants to rock the boat. especially if it means embarrassment or personal risk-taking - or it might jeopardize a relationship with another adult or if they have a personal stake in keeping things looking respectable - i. e. a family connection, or....

i have intervened twice in situations where i thought a child/teen might be suffering sexual abuse - and four times in cases where there was reason to believe the kid was at risk for suicide. the suicide cases got help with counseling - the CSA ones went nowhere. and it was very uncomfortable for me to be grilled by the authorities that i had to report to - almost made me feel like i was the perp! so unfortunately, some of the fears of those who might have reported are well-founded.

i am not excusing the inaction or deliberate blindness or unwillingness to help by any means. i have written a similar indictment to yours above, listing all the signs that i demonstrated that "someone" should have seen and acted on. unfortunately - our society has a long way to go in knowing how to deal with this - and actually having the courage to stand up and do it!

i know where you are coming from, man! i feel the outrage, too.
How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?...
Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails....
Habakkuk 1:2-3

#400159 - 06/12/12 12:33 AM Re: Should outsiders have recognized or reported? [Re: learning2remember]
Sailor John Offline

Registered: 10/04/11
Posts: 310
Loc: Newfoundland & Labrador
Hi learning2remember,

I had the same question on my mind for years. Unfortunately, because my sperm provider was one of the perps, I never could have talked to my Mom even if I wanted to. Because the abuse occured in the church, I still wonder if she knew about it, especially since 1sister was abused at home.

Because of the time period it occured and the consequence of them, I have forgiven her even though I strongly suspect that she knew. Even if we were believed, the whole community would ha have black-listed us.

That would mean being bullied in school, friends lost because they were warned not to even come near us and living on welfare which was a big taboo back then among others.

Because of all the consequences of having a pervert in the family, I feel that Mom tried to do what she felt was the best for the family. At least I like to think that was her reasoning.
I will mourn the teenager I never was and strive to make that dot of light way out in the far reaches of the end of the tunnel turn into a bright sun.


#400200 - 06/12/12 09:31 AM Re: Should outsiders have recognized or reported? [Re: learning2remember]
Blessedcurse Offline

Registered: 06/05/12
Posts: 98
I think yes, someone should have noticed. But I think there might be an issue of change in awareness over the years. I grew up in the 80's and in my country there is a really big difference in the awareness of CSA and its consequenses today. In the 80's there was a public consensus that this does rarely happen, if ever. There was also a public discussion about sexual liberation that involved child sexuality, questioning if it was right to forbid sex with children. During this time the legislation was changed so that rules of "public decency" was abandoned and instead sexual crimes became crimes against a person (earlier CSA was counted to crimes like incest, of wich the child was eaqually guilty since the crime was considdered to be a crime against common morality and not against a person).

What I mean is that signs that are really obvious today might not have been so 20 och 30 years ago, simply because there was no public awareness of CSA and how to detect it.

Then again, very many survivors that I have met tell stories about telling adults more or less litteraly and not being believed, even being called liars or punished. So I think that the unwillingness to understand is a huge factor too and sadly that has probably not changed. You see what you want to see and it seems lots of adult's don't want to see child sexual abuse even if the truth is right in front of them.

#400288 - 06/13/12 03:40 AM Re: Should outsiders have recognized or reported? [Re: learning2remember]
Anomalous Offline

Registered: 03/07/10
Posts: 2106
Hi Learning2Remember,

Yes, people should have taken note of the behaviors you exhibited that were far beyond what was your developmental age at the time.

I grew up in an extremely abusive environment. When I was in third grade I was on a 12th grade level, but suddenly started not doing the work, etc. A teacher asked me what was wrong one day when I stayed late at school.

I told her she had to promise me that she absolutely would NOT tell anyone, especially the foster monster with whom I lived.

She promised, so I took a chance and told her a few things. None of the abuses were sexual, or at least none that I told her.

In the time it took me to walk the mile home, the phone had rung and the conversation had taken place. I unsuspectingly walked into a new level of hell.

I was commanded to tell the teacher the next day that I had lied. Dutifully, I did as I was told. To do otherwise was too dangerous.

The teacher accepted what I said the next day. No one asked any questions. No one questioned the contradictory information.

No one ever did anything.

There are other instances where people had the opportunity to intervene, but chose complacency instead.

Even the division of youth and family services never questioned when I was told to call them and tell them not to come back. I was 14. I was supposed to be under their supervision/ care until I was a legal adult.

Sadly, it is easier for people to choose not to "get involved," rather than put forth the effort to do the right thing. For those who do report, such as the person above, the reporter of the facts is treated like the perp, rather than as the person doing right.

There is something very wrong about that.

Despite heightened awareness, mandatory reporting, etc., too many would still rather turn a blind eye and justify their inactions as "not wanting to get involved in a private matter."

They are also the ones who scream the loudest when no one helps them or those they love, and to want to externalize responsibility (make the schools, etc. responsible) for what should be their parental duties.

I have worked with people who would scour the internet looking for names on certain lists. But when it came to reporting abusive behavior, they would refuse "to get involved."

Should people have noticed the changes in your behavior and your advanced knowledge?


Should they have reported it?


I am sorry they couldn't be bothered.

Acceptance on someone else's terms is worse than rejection.


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