‘Let’s Dance’ — Angela Nesbit

“I need a man in my life”

Mrs. A is a 30 year-old woman. She has 2 children, a 7 year-old and a 6 year-old girl. She told a close friend: “I need a man in my life; he will give me love and company; he will make sure my children have a father; he will enforce rules while I am working.” Indeed, she met Mr. B; they fell in love and he promised to make her dreams come true; together decided he would take of the children while she was working. What Mr. B called discipline was indeed corporal punishment. Initially, he made sure her two children would not have marks. After a while he started abusing them sexually. He started threatening them with hurting them and their mother, so the children stayed quiet. Time went by. A teacher found marks of the physical abuse and the children told her about the sexual abuse.

What is striking about sexual abuse in children is that those who are supposed to protect these children are the first ones who betray them. What vision of the world are these children supposed to have moving forward?

There are many forms of childhood sexual abuse. A beloved relative can seduce the child or a stranger can commit a violent act. Sexual abuse in children can take many different forms such as different levels of frequency, the variation of circumstances it can occur within, and the different relationships that it may be associated with.

The majority of sexual abuse happens in childhood.

How it happens? A known and trusted adult is the most typical perpetrator; violence is rarely used; the child is convinced to hide the abuse and his trust is manipulated; it can last many weeks or years; the child is groomed; grooming is a gradual process of sexualizing the behavior of the child over time.

Incest/intra-familial abuse accounts for about one third of all child sexual abuse cases.

Who are most frequently affected? In developed countries, female children; in some developing countries male children constitute a large proportion of child victims; unaccompanied children; children in foster care, adopted children, stepchildren; physically or mentally handicapped children; history of past abuse; poverty; war/armed conflict; psychological or cognitive vulnerability; single parents homes/broken homes; social isolation such as lacking an emotional support network; and parents with mental illness, or alcohol or drug dependency.

Women who experienced familial abuse reported higher current levels of depression and anxiety when thinking about the abuse. Three variables increase the levels of reported distress. The first one is abuse experiences that involve more extensive sexual abuse; the second one, a higher number of sexual abuse experiences; and, the third one, a younger age during the first sexual abuse experience.

After the teacher reported the case to the mother and DFS, Mrs. A called police, reported the abuse; her 2 children got a forensic interview. Mrs. A found a lawyer, Mr. B went to jail and was sentenced to prison for the physical and sexual abuse.

I want to end with a poem by Lee Alexander, titled Seven Years

Spinning, laughing, dancing to
her favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
is all alone

Eyes wide open
Always hoping for the sun
And she will sing her song to anyone
that comes along

Fragile as a leaf in autumn
Just falling to the ground
Without a sound

Crooked little smile on her face
Tells a tale of grace
That’s all her own

Spinning, laughing, dancing to her
Favorite song
A little girl with nothing wrong
And she is all alone.

Psychiatrist & Writer — Writing and meditating at the intersection of psychiatry, philosophy, Buddhism and the arts. More information at www.lidaprypchan.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store