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CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Por Viviana Rodríguez Rodríguez

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Constantly people talk about child sexual abuse, but do we really know what it is?
Sexual abuse is a crime.

It could be defined as a set of sexual behaviors in which they are involved an adult and a minor, the purpose is the sexual gratification of the adult. This situation totally violates the human rights of children and adolescents. In many cases, the minor fails to understand the specific sense of the relationship established.

Any sexual relations between an adult and a minor, could be labeled as sexual abuse, behaviors ranging from fondling to penetrative sex, even conducted with the consent of the minor, as we can not compare the level of physical maturity, psychological and emotional of an adult with the one of a child or adolescent.
Sexual abuse can occur anytime, anywhere, with or without use of physical force by the perpetrator.

The abuser is usually someone close to the minor; establishing a previous relationship of trust.

In this way, the abuser could be:

1. A member of the family: Dad, Grandfather, grandmother, brother, sister, cousins, uncle, etc..

2. A person close to the minor; such as the teacher, a priest, a neighbor, friends of the parents.

3. A smaller percentage of abusers are total strangers.

Consequences for the victims:

For any underage person, an experience of this kind becomes a traumatic event that will mark the rest of his or her life.
The most important consequences are:

1. Depression: The minor will experience strong feelings of sadness, depression, withdrawal. Those normal daily activities that any child or teenager will find interesting and fun, a victim of sexual abuse will experience them with boredom and disinterest. Their enthusiasm for life is going to be lost.

2. Negative self-esteem: Feelings of self-worth and self-confidence will be devalued. They will be feeling bad, dirty, guilty and ultimately responsible for the abusive situation.

3. Distrust: In most cases the perpetrator is someone close to the victim, with strong bonds of trust already established. Whereupon, the minor will feel betrayed.

4. Aggressiveness: Internally the minor will be full of anger and fears that eventually will become aggressiveness. Those feelings will be directed towards the abuser and other adults who are blamed by the victim for not protecting him or her.

5. Guilt: The sexual abuse victims will feel that they provoked the abusive situation, they feel humiliated and stigmatized, which in turn cause them embarrassment.

Guilt can be experienced on several levels:

a. For the problems that could lead to the family if they report the abuse.
b. For not talking about the abuse before.
c. For “creating” a trouble to a loved one (the abuser)
d. Many times for experiencing the sexual abuse as something physically rewarding.

6. Obsessive or compulsive behaviors: As the underage person is going to feel “dirty”, the hygiene habits will increase, you will see them washing their teeth and hands many times a day, the minor will opt for bathing repeatedly. The purpose of these actions is to remove the dirt.

7. Sleep Disorders: Presence of night terrors, nightmares, enuresis (bedwetting).

8. Eating Disorders: Anorexia, bulimia, binge eating.

9. Psychosomatic problems: Due to the inability to externalize feelings of distress, anger and fear living in the minor, they are going to suffer from physical ailments such as allergies, headaches, stomach problems, muscle spasms, etc.

10. Sexualized behavior: Because of what the are living, they will have early and/or repetitive sexual behavior. Many times they will repeat learned behaviors. Presence of excessive masturbation.

Physical signs to suppose sexual abuse

1. Presence of bleeding in genital areas.
2. Traces of blood in their underwear
3. The underage person complains of having pain in the genital areas.
4. Burning or pain when urinating or defecating.
5. Vaginal infections.

How to protect our children and adolescents of sexual abuse:

It is up to adults to care for and protect minors, this work should start from home.
But, how?

1. First, it is important for parents to encourage their children to trust them. Thus they will tell about any situation they don’t like or that make them feel uncomfortable.

2. We must believe what our children tell us, we should not discredit them.

3. We have to make them feel secure.

4. It is very important to explain to them that no one should touch their bodies, especially their private parts.

5. It is important to talk about sexuality, obviously using terms that they will understand.

6. Teach them not to trust strangers, receiving gifts or money from them.

7. Explain to your sons and daughters not to give personal information to strangers.

8. Get to know who are the friends of your children and know how to locate them.

9. Family members must create a simple protocol to follow in case of emergencies.

Viviana Rodríguez Rodríguez (Volunteer translator)

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Fecha: 25 de octubre de 2012 a las 15:08

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