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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.