Saturday, July 9, 2011

What Happens In the Dark

It was dark.  I was having a flirt fest under the eves of the church with another girl and two local boys.  Just the typical harmless fun shared by teenagers worldwide - laughing, sideways looks, lots of posturing by the boys.  Ostensibly, we were preparing the music sheets for tomorrow night's choir practice.  In reality, we were just stealing a few moments away from prying adult eyes, in this society where males and females kept strictly apart most of the time.

One of the boys was the son of a trusted local translator.  His dad was my father's friend.  There was something about him that I didn't quite trust - a shifty eye, something in the set of his mouth, or the way he carried himself.  Little rumors hinted around the well as girls gathered to draw water and gossip.  But I accepted him into my sphere because his family was trusted.  So he could be.  Right?

There in the dark, under the deeper shadows of the sheltering church, I felt a hand snake out and grab my breast.  And the stars fell from the sky.

Unable to breathe, I backed towards the low outer wall of the church.  "Hey, where are you going?" he called, mockingly.  I couldn't form a word.  "Come back," he called.  But I fled.

Did you know that in the United States, 33% of girls and 14% of boys are sexually molested by the time they reach the age of 18?  Approximately three quarters of reported cases of child sexual abuse are committed by either a family member or someone the child knows.  It happens in the dark, under cover and away from eyes that would protect the victim and expose the evil.

So I ask you today:  inform  yourself.  Turn on the light in your relationships, and don't be afraid to let it shine deeply into the darkness.

Here are some signs that a child might be a victim of sexual abuse (taken from

  • Waking up during the night sweating, screaming or shaking with nightmares. 
  • Masturbating excessively. 
  • Showing unusually aggressive behavior toward family members, friends, toys, and pets. 
  • Complaining of pain while urinating or having a bowel movement, or exhibiting symptoms of genital infections such as offensive odors, or symptoms of a sexually transmitted disease. 
  • Having symptoms indicating evidence of physical traumas to the genital or anal area. 
  • Beginning wetting the bed. 
  • Experiencing a loss of appetite or other eating problems, including unexplained gagging. 
  • Showing unusual fear of a certain place or location. 
  • Developing frequent unexplained health problems. 
  • Engaging in persistent sexual play with friends, toys or pets. 
  • Having unexplained periods of panic, which may be flashbacks from the abuse. 
  • Regressing to behaviors too young for the stage of development they already achieved. 
  • Initiating sophisticated sexual behaviors. 
  • Indicating a sudden reluctance to be alone with a certain person. 
  • Engaging in self-mutilations, such as sticking themselves with pins or cutting themselves. 
  • Withdrawing from previously enjoyable activities, like school or school performance change.
  • Asking an unusual amount of questions about human sexuality.

As hard as it may be to think someone you love could be sexually molesting a child, it is critically important that you champion the helpless and innocent.  Here are some warning signs to look for in a potential abuser (taken from

  • Misses or ignores social cues about others’ personal or sexual limits and boundaries 
  • Often has a "special" child friend, maybe a different one from year to year 
  • Spends most of his/her spare time with children and shows little interest in spending time with someone their own age 
  • Encourages silence and secrets in children 
Sexual Interactions
  • Links sexuality and aggression in language or behavior, e.g. sexualized threats or insults, like “whore” or “slut” 
  • Makes fun of children's body parts, describes children with sexual words like “stud” or “sexy” or talks again and again about the sexual activities of children or teens 
  • Masturbates so often that it gets in the way of important day-to-day activities 
  • Has an interest in sexual fantasies involving children and seems unclear about what's appropriate with children 
  • Looks at child pornography or downloads/views Internet pornography and is not willing to show whether children are involved 
  • Asks adult partners to dress or act like a child or teen during sexual activity 
Personal Safety/Responsibility:
  • Has been known to make poor decisions while misusing drugs or alcohol 
  • Justifies behavior, defends poor choices or harmful acts; blames others to refuse responsibility for behaviors 
  • Minimizes hurtful or harmful behaviors when confronted; denies harmfulness of actions or words despite a clear negative impact 

And lastly, if you suspect a child may have been or is currently being sexually molested, don't hesitate. Call and report it.


  1. Great post. It's everyone's responsibility. It's so important to keep communication lines open with your children and talk to them about it.

  2. Great post Danica. I think so many times, we shove issues like this under the rug to avoid thinking about it, when in reality we need to shine a big, ole flashlight on the issue.