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This is why a child keeps sexual abuse secret. Please read & share.

She has never told anyone.
She has never told anyone.

WARNING: The following content includes graphic descriptions of abuse. If this is a trigger subject for you, you may want to sit this one out.

By ANONYMOUS

I’m sitting in the bath, hunched over with my knees pulled up to my chest. I am gripping them tightly; it feels secure and safe.

I’m 9, I think I’m normal. I have friends, a mum and dad and brothers. I’m just normal, which is what makes this all so confusing. I don’t feel dirty or tainted. Just confused.

I have a friend, Sam who lives at the end of the street. She is a year older than me but she is really fun to play with. Her Dad is nice. Her Mum died when she was little and it’s just her and her Dad. I have stayed there a few times for sleepovers and it’s always heaps of fun. We camp in the lounge room and watch scary movies and eat junk food.

Today something strange happened though. I don’t even know what it was.

I know it was wrong but I don’t know what to do about it.

Sam’s dad was showing us this new game on his computer. He was showing me how to use it and told me to sit on his knee so he could help me. I did it; it didn’t seem odd.

The game was fun until I felt myself shift on his lap. My eyes, his eyes, my friends eyes – still fixed to the screen as I played the game. Then I felt something under my skirt. Is that a hand? It slipped into my underwear.

What do I do? I looked at Sam, she was laughing because my little man just fell off the hill and I had to go back to the start of the game. I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, he was laughing too. His hand still in my underwear… inside me. But his face was normal.

I didn’t know what to do.

My turn was up and it was now Sam’s turn. She sat on her dad’s lap and I watched his hands. I couldn’t stop staring at them. But they sat on his hip, he didn’t move them. He didn’t do the same thing to Sam. He just watched her play.

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Sam asked if I wanted to stay for dinner but I told her I had to go.

I think I have been in the bath too long because I can hear my mum walking up the hallway.

I think it’s time to get out.

…………………………….

I am now 29-years-old. The memory of that day is so clear. I remember laying in bed wondering if I had imagined it. I was nine. Who does that to a nine-year-old?

I came from a very normal home. I hadn’t known anything except love by my family. We had a really happy home. I couldn’t tell my parents. It would devastate them. I also didn’t want them to look at me differently. I didn’t want them to know that it had happened, that a man had done that to me. Somehow if it was a secret it didn’t feel so tainted, so vile, so dirty.

Somehow verbalising it to those I loved would make me feel dirty. I could imagine my mother’s face of disgust, I know it wouldn’t be at me but somehow her disgust about the incident would make me feel disgusted in myself.

The incident was now a part of me. The incident was in my every thought. I knew that I needed to be as normal as I could, I needed to keep things the same. I knew any change in my life would make people suspicious.

I kept seeing Sam some days after school.

Her dad kept touching me.

I wore pants in summer.
I wore pants in summer.

I tried wearing shorts; I thought that would stop him. He still managed to get his hand inside the leg of my shorts.

I wore pants in summer. My mum asked me why and I knew it would make her suspicious if I kept wearing pants. So I stopped.

I tried to avoid him, I tried to avoid his hands. But somehow he still found me. His hands still found their way inside my shorts. And Sam still had no idea.

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Sleepovers were the worst. He would sneak into the lounge room; no words. He would lift the blanket and just watch me sleep. I closed my eyes so tight I pretended to sleep. The truth is I never slept at all. I was scared.

When I was 10 or 11, the looking while I was sleeping turned to touching. Always with his hands. Always silently. I would still pretend to sleep. I would clench my legs together tightly but he would still find his way in.

While Sam had a shower or went to the bathroom he would talk to me about sex. At 11 I didn’t know much about it but he would tell me stories about sex. He told me that one day a man will want to kiss me down there and I would like it. I just sat there frozen and tried to change the subject.

I started growing breasts at 12.

One day Sam was having a shower and he pinned me down on the floor. He grabbed my tiny breasts and told me how much I was growing. He put his hands down my pants and told me I was becoming a women and that he liked it.

That was the last day I went to Sam’s house.

A week later I was laying in bed and I heard someone pacing around the house. My parents were talking in low voices. It was early. The sun was barely up. The blinds rattled every couple of minutes. More muffled talking.

I could hear someone walking to my door. Mum sat next to me on my bed and woke me.

She asked me if he had ever touched me or done anything wrong to me.

I was shocked but I knew I had to answer quick and I had to answer in a normal tone.

“No never… why?”

We got out of bed and I looked out the window, there were police cars at the end of the street. You couldn’t see his house well from where we lived but you could see the lawn. He was sitting on the driveway, handcuffed. Silent.

He went to jail. I was not the only one.

At 29 I still haven’t told my parents. I still live with these memories; this violation.

It has changed me and shaped the adult I have become. I wonder who I would be if this violation never happened.

Abuse… it just doesn’t seem the right word.

I missed my childhood.
I feel robbed of a childhood.
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I feel violated, cheated, robbed of a childhood. I feel sick every time I think of his face.

A few years ago he called my house to congratulate me on the birth of my first child. I knew as soon as he said hello. I could tell his voice anywhere.

I hung up; I didn’t say a word. I locked my front door, called the phone company and changed my number.

Then I cried.

Sometimes I am angry at nine-year-old me. I let this happen, I kept going back.

But then I read an article on sexual abuse and I tell myself that I am the victim and I am not to blame. I still have no idea why I kept going back.

I didn’t want my parents to know and I was scared that if I stopped going they would know something was wrong.

He never said anything about it. He never told me it was a secret. He never said a word. I think that was worse.

I have never talked to anyone about it. I want to tell the police, I want him to go back to jail, I want some justice. But the thought of my parents knowing stops me.

Now it’s not because they would look at me differently. Now it’s because I know this would destroy them. My mum would never be able to get over it. They worked hard to provide a loving home and family for us and I could never shatter that for them.

So I live with it. It’s not daily, but it is always somewhere in the background. It has affected my sexual relationships. It has made me untrusting.

I always see statistics on sexual abuse, I wonder if these are only the cases where the victims report it. As a 9 year old I felt alone, I felt like I was the only one. But now I wonder how many of my friends, how many people I had met were suffering in silence?

If you are concerned about the welfare of a child you can get advice from The Child Abuse Prevention hotline on: 1800 688 009 or visit http://www.childabuseprevention.com.au/ or call The Child Abuse Report Line on: 131 478 (Open 24 hours).

You may want to share this with your friends – according to the VIC Better Health website:

5 Possible signs of sexual abuse
The main message from survivors is about the importance of paying attention to children’s behaviour. If children are being sexually abused, there may be physical signs such as bleeding from the vagina or anus (back passage), sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or poor hygiene. However, signs in a child’s behaviour are more likely. These include:

* Significant changes in behaviour, aggressive behaviour or regression to an earlier stage of development (for example bedwetting)
* Sexual behaviour that is not appropriate to the child’s age
* Depression or social withdrawal
* Getting into trouble at school (sometimes to avoid going home)
* Self-harming behaviours (for example self-mutilation, suicide attempts or prostitution).

Talking with children about abuse
If the child appears to be under stress, encourage them to talk. Children will often tell little bits of information at a time to test the reactions of adults. To help a child who is being abused to talk about it, it’s important to:

* Encourage the child to tell you about what is happening.
* Stay calm and listen. Gently ask what happened next rather than asking why.
* Don’t rush the child.
* Reassure them that they have done nothing wrong.
* Be supportive and let them know you believe them.
* Don’t tell them you will keep it a secret.

If you believe the child may be being abused, report your concerns immediately to the appropriate person in your own organisation and the Child Protection Service. If you are concerned about the welfare of a child you can get advice from The Child Abuse Prevention hotline on: 1800 688 009 or visit http://www.childabuseprevention.com.au/ or call The Child Abuse Report Line on: 131 478 (Open 24 hours).

Bravehearts are an organisation that help the victims of child sex abuse.

You can find more information about them here.

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