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CSA – Meaning, Signs & Effects

In my last post on CSA & Your Child I promised to help us understand what CSA means. In this post, we will explore the meaning, signs and effects of CSA.

What is CSA?

It is an acronym that stands for Child Sexual Abuse, and in plain English, it would mean ‘abusing a child sexually, i.e. having or expressing any form of action/relationship towards a child of a sexual nature’.

WHO Definition of CSA
Source: World Health Organization

With CSA, people are more familiar with touching acts (such as touching a child’s private parts or making the child touch the adult), than non-touching acts. However, both can be as dangerous. So here are some non-touching acts:

  • Exposing genitals to a child
  • Making the child watch porn or inappropriate videos
  • Having kids watch or listen to adults having sex
  • Taking and sharing nudes of a child
  • Watching a child inappropriately while dressing or in the bathroom
  • Encouraging kids to touch each other inappropriately

Some Tell-Signs of an Abused Child?

Ever wondered why your child suddenly does not want to be left alone with ‘Uncle X’ or ‘Aunty Y’? Or perhaps they have become suddenly disrespectful towards a particular adult? They may be tell-signs.

I have had parents often express concerns about their kids who display inappropriate sexualized behaviours, but refuse to come to terms with the sad reality that perhaps, it is an indication of a larger problem. Sexually abused children often show physical and behavioural signs, research has shown.

Signs of CSA
Source: World Health Organization

As a general rule of thumb, if you feel uncomfortable with an adult around your or someone else’s child, feel free to speak to the child (if they are yours) or to their parent. Get that feel of ‘something’s not right’? It probably isn’t.

What if a Child Reports CSA to Me?

DO’s

  • Let them know you believe them and reassure them it is not their fault
  • If they are NOT your kids, get their parents involved if safe to do so (unless the child reports a parent as the perpetrator)
  • Gather the facts- ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS. Get as much information as possible such as where, when, who, how?
  • Take them to see a Doctor.
  • Involve Law Enforcement and Child Protective services (where available)
  • Show love and support
  • Seek professional help/counselling for them

DO NOT

  • Get angry, yell or show frustration
  • Tell the child it was something THEY DID
  • Ask leading questions.
  • Tell the child to ‘tell no one’ or promise to do so yourself
  • Invite the adult and make the child retell their story (Yes, this happened to me, of course, I didn’t share again- story for another day)
  • Pretend like nothing happened

Side Effects of CSA

From research and my personal experience, I do know that the effects of CSA can follow a child into adulthood, and each child can express different things on any end of the spectrum, at different times. A key factor I experienced was LACK of TRUST for authority figures and a number of things in the diagram below including being suicidal.

Side Effects of CSA. These can follow the child into adulthood
Credits: Cynthia Saver

Why Should YOU Care?

CSA can happen to any child under the most scrutiny. This if often because research has shown that 90% of perpetrators are known to the child and 68% are often family members. Do you know that during this COVID-19 lock-down there has been a lot of news on incest related sexual abuse cases. Mostly from older male family members to younger females. The mistake starts from not paying attention enough because we often think ‘our kids are in safe hands’.

We should also care because when we understand what CSA is, and how it can impact a person for rest of their lives, we empower ourselves with the right knowledge to do something about it.

You should care because YOUR Child or a Child you know and love may be going through this silently. I hear you say “God forbid”, to which I say “Amen”. But a little learning and vigilance added to that prayer would do a lot of good, don’t you think?

We don’t all have to experience it to fight against it. It must be a collective responsibility to protect our children.

I not only want to help create awareness for protecting children, but also empower adults once abused to rise above. As an adult dealing with past event of CSA, you may still need professional help or counselling, so seek help if need be.

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CSA Survivors Corner

CSA & Your Child

Intro…

All too often there are cases of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), all over the world including our dear Nigeria. More rampant than we would like to admit, yet children suffer. Unfortunately perpetrators often go unpunished and sometimes unnoticed. From clergymen, to neighbours, family members and even sometimes, parents unleash this evil on children.

According to a UNICEF report, ” one in four girls and 10 per cent of boys have been victims of sexual violence” in Nigeria. What is sad is most people have these things happening in their homes, whether or no they are aware, is an entirely different story.

The story below is a depiction of common experiences faced by children and their families in this regard.

The Story

John!, Ah John, you have killed me! Aunty Jumi cried. “My own brother, ah!” Peace drove in silence. Through the rear-view mirror, she took a quick glance at her neighbour Aunty Jumi, carrying her three-year old daughter- Sade. Sade was just rescued from John forcing himself sexually on her. Turned out before this day, John had been using his fingers to molest the girl.

source: campaignliveus
source: campaignliveus

Aunty Jumi sat in the back of the car, almost unafraid to move. It all started to make sense to her now: the way Sade flinched when she tried to wash the girl’s vagina. The way the girl would cry so much whenever she was going out and leaving her alone with her uncle. Sade had become much more quiet in recent weeks. “How could my own brother do this to me?”, she muttered under her breath.

John had left their home state- Ogun to come live with his big sister. He recently got a job at one of Lagos’ top investment banks, he was to start the week COVID-19 lock-down began. He always seemed to mind his business, but played so well with the kids in the compound. Which was why this came as a shock to not just her, but everyone. That John would molest a three-year old, much worse his own niece.

Peace shuddered as she pulled into the hospital’s driveway. She brought her mind back to the present, getting out to help Aunty Jumi and Sade. Settling into the waiting area couch, she wondered what would become of this dear three-year-old, whose life has been impacted forever. She could not get the image of the bleeding girl out of her mind, it was a painful sight! And the screams, Peace shivered! “God please let her be okay”, she prayed silently.

Fact….

Source: A Strong Nigerian Woman

Perhaps Few Examples…

I get it that we cannot always be paranoid, nor can we always have eyes on our kids, but can we at least agree that we live in a very wicked world, and that our kids deserve our protection. The purpose of this is to encourage us to be vigilante, to be mindful and set boundaries. Not every child abuse case will come to light. In this lock-down and beyond, observe your child and everyone living with you. The heart of human is after all, desperately wicked and full of evil, who can know it?

Watch out for a sequel to this on what Child Sexual Abuse is and the tell-signs for your child.

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Blog Survivors Corner

Scars: She is They!

She looked at herself in the mirror, rubbing the scars up and down. “I used to have a perfect skin” she thought. “Scars are a reflection of your battles won, your scars are perfect! ” said the voice in her mind.

She had relived the moment so many times. She lost a relationship because of the scars, she has been told severally “you should cover up those scars, its ugly”. But she has also been told “its brave how you open up your scars”.

She has lived in fear for the most part of her life, but she masked it well. She kept them well covered up. No! Not just the scars on her hands, the scars in her heart too.

She has often wondered what people would think if she let out those scars? She tried to let them out before, some family said “too messy don’t tell”. Others said “you slutty, no one would believe you”. And others said, “just get over it”. So she went to the church, they know better right? They said no Sis too unrighteous, let us not talk about such dirtiness, its the house of God”.

She knows that scars don’t always mean the wound is healed or the pain is gone. This is true for physical scars as it is for the unseen scars. So what is the point of hiding if she still feels the pain? She is tired, she was scarred for the longest time, and then she found her voice, alas, she spoke!

She finds others like her, each one defined by their scars, limited by their scars, hiding their scars, but she’s also seen others who rose above all of that. More so, she did not go looking for scars, it was an accident, a rape, a molestation. It was a physical abuse, it was one bad decision, and yes it scared her. She knows YOU did not go looking for the scars, just as she didn’t. She showed her scars, some said “thanks for sharing, it really did bless me”.

She came across a song- “Scars” by I am They. The voice put them together to ‘Scars, I am They’. Staring in the mirror, she realizes she has carried these scars for far too long. She worried about people’s thoughts for too long, not anymore.

She came out of that accident, and she lived. Oh yes! She survived. At first, the doctors covered up the wounds, it stank! She has covered her other scars for too long and it stank. So she opened up, and alas, she started to heal. She cannot undo the wounds or the accident, but ever since she has lived with scars. They are a testament to her conquering death! So why should she hide them?

She got healed, yes she did. She wants you to know, you can heal too. The scars, they are beautiful , they are your stories, and you don’t have to hide it no more. Now I wear my scars out if I have to, I am unashamed of them, thankful for them. We do overcome by our testimonies right? So TESTIFY! Your Scars, They are YOU, just as her Scars, they are She. My Scars, I am They.

She hopes the song ‘Scars‘ by I am They blesses you as it did her.

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Blog

#Pink Shirt Day- Would you Stand Up to a Bully?

Picture from- https://pipsc.ca/news-issues/human-rights-and-diversity/international-pink-shirt-day

Today is Pink Shirt Day! The history of Pink Shirt Day, and the courage of the two kids who stood up to bullies is amazing.

I cannot help but ask, would I stand up to a bully on behalf of someone else? Would you? If you are like me, your answer probably came down to “it depends”. But I didn’t always hold back, so what changed?

But First, What is Bullying?

There are lots of versions, but here is my favorite: bul·ly/ˈbo͝olē/ : seek to harm, intimidate, or coerce (someone perceived as vulnerable). [1]

In addition, Wikipedia also states that bullying is a subcategory of aggressive behavior characterized by the following three minimum criteria: (1) hostile intent, (2) imbalance of power, and (3) repetition over a period of time [2].

im(BALANCE)

I want to speak to #2- “imbalance of power”. A bully would think it is their right to bully, and the bullied would think they don’t have what it takes to stand up for themselves. The latter is true, especially where they have been bullied for long, and violently so. Plus, the bully projects an image of what they think of their victims, which somehow the victim buys into. Thus creating a cycle of abuse, until….

…there is a balance of power…..

Remember the bully is perceived as vulnerable? Now what power does an already vulnerable person hold? Think on this! So then, who creates the ‘balance’? YOU! Would you who see the situation and walk away, saying or doing nothing? Or would you create a balance of power?

This is what the boys did to make ‘Pink Shirt Day’ a historical moment. They did something, they brought balance to power. By standing up with the bullied, the bully becomes outnumbered.

So Why Don’t We Stand Up? Here are some Lists

#1- We Fear- BUT remember, bullies thrive on fear.

#2- We know the bully personally- When they get bored with their victims, just know they are coming for you!

#3- A part of us think victims like being bullied- No one likes to feel less of themselves!

#4- The By-Stander Effect– Everyone watching thinks someone else would do something about it. This is worse in our world today. Most people would rather video the event than actually do something.

#5- We ourselves have become ‘silent victims’- This right here was why I stopped speaking up for others! Nothing like a blow you did not see coming!

Sadly, those who should have stepped up for me, were plagued by reasons #1, 2, or 4. Also, I find a lot of people are plagued by #5 as I was, and failed to speak for others.

But like David Shepherd and Travis Price said to the bully of that day- “Enough is Enough”! Speak up for someone, you might be their only chance! This is a journey for some (it still is for me), but, start today!

Picture from- https://museum.novascotia.ca/collections-research/vanguard/gallery/objects/david-shepherd-and-travis-price

To the Bullied- You have to find your voice! Nothing stops a bully in their tracks faster than the bullied standing up and telling them to stop! This is also a journey, start right where you are!

If you read this, it is part of the journey, by learning about #pinkshirtday. Did you wear a pink shirt today? Share your pictures with us- anita@loudsilences.org

Feel free to add to the list of ‘Why we don’t stand-up’ in the comment section. I know the list is inexhaustible. Tell us what stopped you from standing-up.

Would you like to share your story (unpublished), feel free to send me a message in the ‘contact me’ below.


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Blog

Welcome to LoudSilences- Turn it Up!

My name is Ann Adefuye, a.k.a Anita (nee Young-Itiye). I am Nigerian (soon to also be Canadian). I am from the Kalabari tribe (Rivers State) in the South-South Region of Nigeria. I also regard myself as Yoruba- by marriage.

I have three great passions that will be driven through this platform- teenagers & young adults, sexually and domestically abused people, and mental health. I have personally experienced ugly sides of some aspects of all three, hence the passion to be a voice to those who are still trying to navigate these valleys. 

I have plunged to the lowest points of life and somehow sprung back up. My worst experiences are known by very few people in my life and of course not accepted by all. Not because they do not know the truth but because of a fundamental concept that has plagued the Nigerian and African culture for the longest time- the ‘Culture of Silence’.

“It is well”, “Insha Allah”, “Don’t disgrace this family”, “shhhhh, how dare you say such things out in the open”, “what would people say”. The list goes on and on in the different forms that we put the lid on cans of worms. These can take purely religious or cultural undertone, or both. But not anymore! We have a beautiful culture to a large extent, and we can harness them for good, not to keep people bound!

The silence is getting so ‘loud’, it is deafening, the rising number of suicides, deaths by domestic violence, increasing number of divorces, the shaming of victims. There is tremendous work being done by diverse organizations to bring these ills to light, but the voices speaking for victims and calling for prevention strategies can never be too much.

So I welcome you to loudsilences, where we will add our voices to others, help one another understand the impact of the ‘The Culture of Silence’, and turn things around, by unlearning and relearning.

Can you hear the silence?

I will tell stories (some would be real stories of real people, including myself), I might share videos, whatever forms of communication it takes to help us undo the damage of years of silence, including sharing reports and/or data.

I need something from you in return, challenge the status quo of your thoughts and perceptions towards these things, educate yourself and others. Choose to empower people who have been trodden down, build compassion and lend a hand and heart to a broken soul. Be a voice and together, let us quiet down these loud silences, and raise our voices to the tune of a better world.