“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.”
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 UNICEF “Most 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…