On my blog entry entitled Not Recognizing Self in Mirror after Child Abuse, a reader posted the following comment:
It’s amazing to me how our culture and “the law” view abuse and how it is handled as opposed to the reality of it. It’s almost as though as a society we treat it like, it’s wrong, but not THAT bad. Put the abuser in jail for a few months, maybe and that’s the end of it… the child will forget and be just fine. End of story. It’s like it just never ends, right down to the fact that a lot of society just keeps on victimizing the victim and the perpetrators get a slap on the wrist.
I’m not sure this has anything to do with looking in the mirror, but it just hits me sometimes how EVERY facet of a persons life gets effected by abuse. The simplest tasks can require Herculean effort to maintain…. and it goes on and on, it doesn’t just stop one day. And for this a person may have to spend a little time in jail. It’s just so unfair and frustrating. ~ Mia
This comment really struck a nerve because it came on the heels of someone offline making a comment about a child being “molested.” I really, really hate the term “molest” because it means “to bother, interfere with, or annoy” ~ Dictionary.com. As Mia so eloquently stated, what I experienced at the hands of my abusers was so much more than “being bothered.” I can get over “being bothered.” “Being bothered” does not cause me to have ongoing insomnia, nightmares, flashbacks, and recurring triggers.
Also, as Mia pointed out, society has this ridiculous idea that children simply “get over” trauma. It is just coincidence that their lives explode after puberty with drug addictions, promiscuity, self-injury, eating disorders, etc. Those behaviors are viewed as separate, unrelated issues from the childhood trauma because “children are resilient.” I don’t remember where I heard this line (I think it was in a movie), but I think it is so true: “If children are so resilient, then why are there so many f@#$ed up adults?”
Have you ever noticed that only an adult (and typically only an adult woman) is referred to as “being raped?” If it is a child, s/he was “molested,” and s/he will get over it because “children are resilient.” People view an adult woman getting raped one time as being a traumatizing experience, but a child being raped 100 times is only “molestation” that the child will “get over.” WTF??
Call me jaded, but I think one reason for this shift in perception is because adult women can vote and children cannot. So, we have to take an adult voter’s experiences more seriously than a child’s experiences. Also, if we delude ourselves into believing that children are “resilient” and simply “get over” whatever happens to them, it absolves the adults from responsibility for protecting the children. Whatever the reason, it really makes me angry.
Photo credit: Hekatekris