Sexual Abuse, Rape, and Incest — Finding Your Voice
By Donna Eder
Sexual exploitation takes the innocence and power from victimized children. There is a way to become empowered again. As long as an abused child remains stuck in guilt and shame, the perpetrator is still in control. The adult survivor of childhood abuse will remain a controlled victim. The key to freedom and empowerment is disclosure. Disclosure means, “telling”. Exposing the truth about sexual exploitation is the victim’s choice. No one has the right to force a victim of a sexual predator to confront him. There are a variety of methods of disclosing the sexual violence in one’s life. There is no one right way to disclose. Since one’s trust is grossly broken in sexual abuse, rape, and incest, it is particularly important for one to carefully and delicately decide for herself how to go about “telling”. The critical point is to tell, tell in one’s own timing, and in one’s own way. Perhaps a listener will be a sister, lover, or good friend to share one’s “secret”. Perhaps the victim of sexual abuse will find help expressing her thoughts about her sexual exploitation to a teacher, minister, therapist, doctor, or another person of authority. Perhaps one will find solace through writing, painting, or composing music to disclose the pain. One thing to keep in mind is this, “You are only as sick as the secrets you keep.” It does not matter how long it takes someone to tell. The sexual victim’s empowerment only depends on telling her story of sexual abuse, incest, and/or rape, sometime, and in some way. Now may not be the right time to disclose. There will be a right time later, when the sexually abused victim feels it is safe for her to tell her story. When one is able, take the time to disclose. Empowerment, fulfillment, and happiness throughout one’s life depend on it. Without disclosure, the victim’s pain will stagnant and seethe, crippling one emotionally. “Survivors of abuse are six times more likely to become abusive parents. Forty-five percent of abused children become adult alcoholics.” (http://www.pcao.org/whatis/stats.cfm) Nondisclosure has been shown to have long-term consequences for the sexually exploited. These consequences can include, but are not limited to: difficulty trusting others, trouble expressing emotions in a positive manner, difficulty coping with stress, poor impulse control, addictive behavior, destructive behavior, self mutilation, anger, anxiety, depression, PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), psychiatric disorders, eating disorders, suicidal thoughts and actions, difficulty with authority figures, sexual problems, sleep disturbance, low self esteem, isolation, shame, confusion, fear, and many other dysfunctions. Long-term consequences can be averted, or positively transformed, through disclosure. When one expresses and tells her abuse story, she begins to have a recovery story. Telling allows the devastated soul and inner child to have a voice. A person who chooses to live victoriously validates her life with her own voice. She denounces the perpetrator and claims back the power that was so viciously stolen from her. To break free from remaining a victim of sexual exploitation, claim your voice (http://thevoicesareloud.blogspot.com).
About the Author of This Article
Donna Eder is a published author and internationally juried artist. Her passions are compassion, teaching, and creativity. She has a Master of Arts from Columbia University, NY.