Protecting our children from sexual abuse

Morode
Posted January 25, 2021 from Kenya
Violated teddy bear to symbolize child sexual abuse.

“Sexual violence occurs everywhere – in every country and across all segments of society. A child may be subjected to sexual abuse or exploitation at home, at school or in their community.”

 - UNICEF

World Pulse #ThrivingThursday’s Zoom meeting was very informative, eye opening but a difficult conversation to have. The training was by our World Pulse Ambassador Efe who took the World Pulse sisters through a presentation concerning child sexual abuse. She shared her personal experience and why she champions for intervention for children who have been sexually abused. Efe also mentioned that when a child goes through sexual abuse there are some of the lasting effects that can occur. Efe outlined the following:

  • Heightened desire for sex – because the survivor was exposed to a pleasurable sexual encounter by the abuser, the survivor for example a child doesn’t know that desiring for sex is wrong
  • Dislike for sex and Negative perspective of sex – because of the sexual assault, the survivor does not like to engage in sexual activities, for example with the spouse.
  •  Hatred or dislike for same sex or opposite sex – depending on what gender the abuser is the survivor might dislike being in a group of the gender that abused them.
  • Continuation of the cycle of abuse – The survivor is abused by a different individual
  • Defiant behavior – this is “a don’t care attitude,” where the survivor for example does not want to listen to the parents or start to suddenly expressing extremely bad behavior.  
  • Guilt feelings – the survivor might be blaming themselves, that the abuse happened because it was “my fault,” for example a female wearing a short dress.
  • Paranoia – Sometimes the abuser threatens to harm one of the family’s or friend’s if the survivor ever reveals the sexual abuse.
  • Strict parenting etc. – this applies when one of the parents has been through some form of sexual abuse and now is extremely protective of their child.

According to UNICEFMost often, abuse occurs at the hands of someone a child knows and trusts. At least 120 million girls under the age of 20 – about 1 in 10 – have been forced to engage in sex or perform other sexual acts, although the actual figure is likely much higher. Roughly 90 per cent of adolescent girls who report forced sex say that their first perpetrator was someone they knew, usually a boyfriend or a husband. But many victims of sexual violence, including millions of boys, never tell anyone.”

Efe has been an advocate against child sexual abuse for several years and she shared the steps she has taken thus far when interacting with survivors of sexual assault, specifically:

  • Identifying the triggers – The survivor can be triggered for instance a location where the abuse took place
  • Organized and collaborated on several physical and online workshops
  • Organized prevention workshops for parents of both typical and children with special needs 
  • Worked with children who have been abused

During the feedback session, there was a consensus that much more needs to be done to protect the survivors of sexual abuse such as the legal system, which sometimes makes collection of evidence difficult. We also agreed that more effort needs to taken by the law informant to protect the survivors of sexual violence. The World Pulse sisters agreed that Efe should train on another session concentrating on how survivors move on from the sexual abuse trauma.

The MC for the #ThrivingThursday was myself and before we started the training, I wanted to take a small ride down on Memory lane. I wanted to find out from the World Pulse sisters at what point in their lives did they first realize or notice being treated differently because of the gender. The call was filled with lots of memories, some pleasant, some painful, some filled with hope. The World Pulse sister discussed how the society had a huge role to play when it came to chores in the household. For instance, girls were given “delicate,” chores like washing the dishes, while the boys were given “heavy,” chores such as washing the family car. Some Ambassadors shared that it was difficult for them because they were stigmatized for attaining a higher level of education compared to males in the same communities. The society in this instance was worried about the woman getting a husband who will agree to marry someone with a higher education. Some World Pulse sisters said that their fathers played a crucial role in making sure that girls and boy did the same amount of chores, not because of their gender but because of their capability. This is many ways shaped the perception of life in general and how we interact with both genders.

We can keep this conversation going… Comment on the chat box below by answering this question “When did you first realize you were treated differently because of your gender.”

Looking forward to reading your responses…

This story was submitted in response to World Pulse Digital Ambassadors.

Comments 7

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Jill Langhus
Jan 25
Jan 25

Hello Morode,

How are you doing? Thanks for sharing the synopsis of the last Thriving Thursday call. That sounds like a good one. I can definitely relate to the lingering effects of childhood sexual abuse as related in the bullet points, unfortunately, even though I've done quite a lot of different healing modalities to get where I am today. It's a real problem and more awareness and prevention needs to be put on it globally.

Having a follow up session on how to heal from the abuse sounds like a great session idea to me.

As for the question on when I first realized that I was treated differently because of my gender, I'm thinking well, of the sexual abuse because my brother got some messed up ideas from my dad, so that would be the first time that I would've been viewed differently or also at recess during school times when boys seemed to always be up to no good, and get away with it, whereas the girls basically just stood around gossiping.

Nini Mappo
Jan 25
Jan 25

Dear Morode,
Thank you for the summary on the digital ambassadors' call. There is a lot to ponder there, sad, terrifying, infuriating. I am glad for World Pulse and all other platforms and individuals banding together to fight child sexual abuse.

Hello, Morode,

You did a great job as an MC! I love that you also wrote a summary to update those who missed Thriving Thursdays. Kudos to you, dear. Child sexual abuse is an important topic. Parents, caretakers, guardians need to know about this.

To answer your question, my closest cousins and playmates were boys. So I could already see the gender difference. They can get away with not doing household chores. Or I'm told to be more lady-like and not play "boy games". When I did chores, it was expected, but when boys did chores, it was celebrated. I wished I was a boy when I was a child because I found their lives easier.Haha.

But now, I am super happy being a woman. Thanks for including us in the discussion, dear. I appreciate it much!

Beth Lacey
Jan 26
Jan 26

I was in grade school and picked to compete in a public speaking contest. But I was told I could never win because I am a girl. And so it goes on from there......

maeann
Jan 29
Jan 29

Hi Morode,

Thank you for this wonderful synopsis. I can feel and remember all our conversation during at that time. It was so powerful. Thank you and I congratulate you for being so conversational MC.

Tamarack Verrall
Jan 30
Jan 30

Hi Morode,
A great description of our meeting last Thursday. What an opportunity it was to look closely at all the sexual abuse we are subjected to as girls and women and have the chance to talk with each other about it all, our experiences, and what we're doing now about it.
I realized early that for some reason I didn't understand, that I was not was free to roam outside by myself, as my brothers were. And that it was said that men had a right to own money, women were not supposed to "take those jobs from men".

Veronica Ngum Ndi
Jan 31
Jan 31

Hi Morode
Nice to meet you dear.Hope your are doing well.Its amazing how you summarize the Thriving Thursday Call.Truly sexual abuse is an issue we need to continue working on especially for women and girls disabilities. Thank you once again and keep up the good work
In Sisterhood
Veronica Ngum