Setting Victims Free,
I was told of two young girls recently, who were sexually abused by a man in their village.
When the mother of one of the children learned of what had happened, she turned to the other women.
The whole village met to discuss the abuse. This allowed the second girl to come forward.
People were open with their hurt and anger. The abuse was openly acknowledged. The man was held to account.
The girls were supported and cared for, and the people of the village went out of their way to alleviate any shame that both girls may have felt.
There was no denial, no cover up or sweeping under the carpet. No blame put on the girls.
I am impressed with how the village addressed the abuse.
Sadly this response is not common.
What happens most is that people, families, communities close ranks. Look to save face. Deny any abuse ever took place. Inadvertently colluding with the perpetrator, enabling them to abuse further.
Some choose to deny abuse, because they themselves were victims, and it’s too difficult to face it. Easier to look away. Like my mother did when she found my father, a convicted sex offender in bed with a little girl.
She walked out of the room. Closing the door behind her. Choosing not to see, not to know.
Others just don’t want it to be true. To not have anything as shameful and scandalous as that, anywhere near their lives. They’re worried about what others will think. That they maybe tarred with the same brush.
Better to deny that anything ever happened. Once they start down that road it’s hard to come back, because now they have enabled.
In some cases people blame the child. Saying that it was their fault, that they asked for it. It can be easier than confronting an adult relative or community member.
I’ve seen all of these reactions play out firsthand.
Denying isolates victims of abuse, further trapping them in the past. Where they remain in that space, reliving those moments, trying to think their way out.
It is the truth that sets everyone free.
This article was first published on Facebook and Linkedin September 12, 2021.
Copyright© Tim Tipene, 2021.