Who are the victims?
– All children can be sexually abused. But it is quite common for paedophiles to attack children searching affection: missing parents or providing very few affection or attention to their child. The paedophile often takes advantage of a void, a lack in children.
– The children finds, in the paedophile, the father and/or mother he did not have. He is actually duped by the adult who, under the guise of bringing him this affection, only seeks to satisfy his desires.
Where is the assault taking place?
– The assaults occurs most often in places viewed as safe (family home, school, sports club…).
– It can also take place in a place away from home. In this case, the paedophile will choose an unknown victim. He can attract the child through all kinds of means (pretends to be sent by the child’s parents to come get him at school, ask the child to get in the car to show him the way, offer a gift to the child or threaten him).
How often, how long for the attacks?
The sexual abuse can be punctual but, sometimes, a long-term and complex relationship between the child and the paedophile is established.
– In 40% of cases, the child is victim of repeated assaults. As, most of the time, the abuser convinces him to remain silent about their relationship, the situation can continue until adolescence.
What symptoms can be a sign of sexual assaults?
– Almost 40% of children who are sexually abused have a “normal” behaviour, in appearance – often, there is no physical sign of sexual abuse or there are signs that only a doctor can detect. Brutal changes in the child’s behaviour should alert his close circle: something is wrong.
– Examples of physical signs: pregnancy, abnormal vaginal discharge, genital lesions, haemorrhage, self-mutilation, important weight loss or weight gain.
– Examples of psychological signs: inward-looking attitudes, educational difficulties, lack of interest in creative and sports activities, fatigue, depression, sadness, anxiety, agitation, eating disorders, anorexia or
bulimia, fear of going in certain places, isolation from other children of his own age, fear of adults or of the parent of the same sex as the abuser, early and defiant sexual behaviour towards same-age children or adults, refusal to undress in public while everyone else does (swimming pool, changing rooms, etc.), sudden interest in human and animal genitals (questions, drawings, desire to give kisses, etc.), restless sleep, nightmares, the child wets his bed, is afraid to sleep alone or in the dark, is anxious, moody and nervous, suffers from attacks of crying or outbursts of anger…
– These changes in the child’s behaviour may have other reasons to take seriously, but the reason may also be sexual abuse. Every child reacts differently. However, the following symptoms should encourage parents to pay attention and to be receptive to their child.
Why does the child remain silent?
– The fear of not being believed. For the victim, not being believed represents a second violence.
Very often, the retraction is the sign that the child is telling the truth. In any case, first of all, it is better to believe something incorrect than to risk missing the truth which would feed the shame and guilt, felt by the child.
– The fear of denouncing a relative.
– The abusor’s threats.
– A feeling of guilt.
The abuser can make the child feel guilty by telling him that he has sexually provoked him.
– The fear of getting told off.
– The child knows that this “friendship” is not normal but he does not know who to say it, he is afraid of what will happen to him.
– It is often difficult for the child to express in words the events that shocked him and that he did not understand.
– He can also think that the adult is in his right and that what he suffered is “normal”, especially, otherwise, if his abuser acts kindly and pays attention to him.
– Frequently, the child denies and chokes back completely the situation of abuse he lived.
A child always tries to tell his suffering but one does not know listening to him
What are the consequences for the victim?
– The importance of the consequences depends on different factors which are linked to the nature of the assault, its duration, the possibility for the child to talk about what he suffered, the capacity of his close circle to listen to him and to believe him, the age and the weakness of the child. Incest is the sexual assaults the most traumatic for the child.
– For the child, the sexual assaults provokes a feeling of shame and humiliation. He feels deprived of himself, deprived of his body. If the child can’t express his hate for his abuser, it can be transformed in hate for himself.
How to prevent sexual assaults?
– First, it is important to listen to the needs of the child.
– Sex education. The parents, professionals and adults in general, through words, acts and attitudes towards the child, must have a behaviour intended to permit him to situate the prohibitions and to teach him respect.
– Vigilance. With simple rules of prudence that parents and children have to respect.
– A number of brochures, books and videos intended to parents but also directly to children were edited by individuals, associations and public authorities. A real dialogue must be established between adult and child about unsafe situations and the attitude the child has to adopt in such circumstances and with adults in general. That’s what our association proposes with, in particular, the quiz distributed to children.
How to help the victims?
– It is important for the child to feel he is listened and believed. He must feel in an environment of trust to reveal an event which really shocked him.
– Make it clear for the child that he is listened, believed, helped, even if you prefer not to know.