The Importance of Survivors in Fulfilling Our Mission

Witness to a crime

“If I see injustice and I am silent, I am also guilty.”

Recently, I saw this quote on Facebook . In fact, we also have it pinned to the wall in our break room. It really resonated with me as I prepare for the June edition of the RAACE newsletter because I wanted to focus on the survivors of child sexual abuse. Why? Because understanding the effects of abuse underscores the need for and importance of prevention. With over 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse, the time for prevention is NOW!

Those who sexually abuse children do so to satisfy their own desires. Abusers are not strangers. Contrary to popular belief, those who abuse children do not stand out. They usually are not “scary”, “creepy” or “weird”. In fact, over 90% of offenders are someone the child knows and trusts.

Hiding in plain sight, child molesters go out of their way to create the appearance of being trusted, upright, responsible citizens. They can be anyone who has access to your child on a regular basis: fathers, uncles, cousins, stepfathers, siblings, mothers, teachers, babysitters, neighbors, grandparents, peers, clergy, coaches or even their doctors. This process is called grooming – we have a whole section dedicated to educating you on this at http://www.raace.org/statistics-information

For those who’ve been abused as a child, talking about what happened, even years after the abuse has stopped, can be as painful as the day it first occurred. We stand with all abuse survivors, and we are awed by your efforts to end the silence and share your story so that others may learn from it. That is why we seek to provide a safe place where your journey as a survivor is met with healing and hope. The devastating effects of sexual abuse do not need to be permanent. As many survivors attest, you can heal! You don’t need to be alone in your pain. With only 1 in 10 children who are sexually abused ever telling anyone, breaking the silence is one of the most important components of the healing process.

There are numerous reasons why children do not seek help. Abusers often scare children by threatening to retaliate or by saying that the child will not be believed. The abuser may also confuse  the child by suggesting that the abuse is the child’s fault. Comments such as, “You asked for it” and “You enjoyed it” are often used to accuse and to silence the child. But two things are certain. First, sexual abuse of a child can never be the child’s fault. Second, if the abuse is not dealt with when it occurs, its damaging effects will still be present years later.

Our mission is simply to PREVENT child sexual abuse before it begins. Survivors and their stories play a huge role in these prevention efforts. Why? Because, oftentimes people can't truly wrap their head around the need for prevention without understanding the impact abuse can have on children in the short-term and in the long-term as adults. That's why we work to provide a resource for survivors to share their stories. Our hope is that these stories highlight the need to prevent abuse from happening. You are central to that important work. To share your story, please visit http://www.raace.org/for-survivors