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 www.protectkids.com):
- 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
- 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
- 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.