Abuse , Sexual abuse , Physical abuse , Emotional abuse The UK has recently been shocked at the revelations that one of its best loved entertainers - Jimmy Savile - has been uncovered as a prolific sex offender. Commander Peter Spindler of the Metropolitan police said Savile used his fame and celebrity status to "hide in plain sight", adding that he had "groomed the nation".
Many people were surprised at the number of people coming forward for help so many years later — so why do victims of such a serious crime keep this traumatic event a secret for so long? Shame is the big issue with abuse It is often shame that keeps victims hiding the abuse and secrets, which keeps them isolated and lonely — often accompanied by feelings that they are somehow to blame for what happened to them.
Ironically, the way out of shame is to talk about it with trustworthy people, the very thing many people find so difficult. One of the issues is the silence that often surrounds abuse. Most people would admit that abuse goes on, but no-one wants to admit it happens here in this situation or community and especially not in this family. This is simply too terrifying for people to think about. This is why sexual offenders are often demonised in the media and compared to monsters.
People feel safer thinking about abusers this way and makes them think they will be able to spot them — giving them power in the situation. Thinking that an abuser could be a normal person — someone they know and even like — makes people feel frightened and powerless. How widespread is Sexual Abuse? The figures are very upsetting. The findings of this report show the continuing pervasiveness of sexual abuse in the UK: Nearly a quarter of young adults Almost one in 10 children aged 9.
Teenage girls aged between 15 and 17 years reported the highest past year rates of sexual abuse. Other surveys also confirm the high occurrence of sexual abuse in the UK: A study in Cawson: In October more than 1, teachers were sacked in Kenya for sexually abusing girls; most of the victims were aged between 12 and BBC News website 7thOctober Abuse remains a secret to adulthood Sadly however, the shame and silence around abuse often continue into adulthood.
Child abuse and neglect in the UK today Radford et al, This means that people suffer in silence for years with hugely damaging results on their adult life. But abuse does not just impact the victim him or herself, the legacy of untreated sexual abuse on our society is devastating: Adults who experience child sexual abuse are 12 times more likely to attempt suicide Felitti and Adna, American Journal of Preventative Medicine It is like life imprisonment for a crime that someone else has committed.
Behaviours characterised by shame can include: One of the main reasons that victims carry so much shame may be because they can often look back at the situation as adults and feel they could have or should have done something differently to prevent it happening.
Victims can tend to forget as children or young people they had very little power. They imagine that the choices they had as children are the same as the ones available now. This intensifies the shame and mental trauma. In order to start being free of this it is critical to understand that abuse is largely about power and intention. It is vital to remember this even though there may have been exchanges.
Some questions you might like to consider could be: Critically — who had the real power in that situation? Who originally initiated things? What was your fundamental motive as a child when you met this person? If this person gave you affection did you get much attention elsewhere in your life? If you accepted sweets or money did you really understand what was happening? And what the price would have to be for you? If you could have told someone — who realistically would have helped you?
It is important to note that, even if your answers do not make you feel absolved of shame, abuse can make you feel things and act in ways alien to you; this does not make you responsible for another's actions or change who you really are. It is also critical to understand abuse and shame exist in an environment of secrecy and the way out of shame that includes any shame! This sharing could be in a recovery group, a counsellor, through close friends or a combination of these.
When you begin to freely speak the truth about your life, your sense of shame will diminish…Secrets destroy people and they destroy them unnecessarily. Isolating yourself can be a natural response to so much pain — however loneliness can bring even more suffering. Time after time I have worked with Survivors of abuse who say that just speaking out with a counsellor or being in a support group with other Survivors has helped them so much. This might not be right for you, but do consider joining a self help group or community group that can provide the companions you need in your journey into recovery.
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