Misty works as the Volunteer Coordinator for one of our agencies that work with survivors of sexual assault. She’s also my co-presenter this week in a webinar (for Kansas domestic violence & sexual assault advocates) called “Let’s Play! Self Care for Advocates.”
In light of the responses ‘flying’ around the internet concerning (what has been termed) the “Josh Duggar Scandel,” I wanted to make sure we all saw these wise words from Misty.
There is a lot of misinformation regarding sexual abuse. Here are some facts!
1) Sexual exploration is normal between age mates. It is not exploration if force, fear, or manipulation is involved. It is not exploration if a significant age gap exists. That is abuse.
2) If a child is acting out sexually, as a parent you have a responsibility to the victims and the child acting out. Reporting it to the authorities can help your child receive quality therapy. Research shows when young children have a licensed, therapeutic intervention, they are not likely to re-offend. By not reporting it, you are failing every child involved.
3) Reporting abuse should be something all adults do–and not just to family friends or trusted adults. If you are told a child is being harmed, you need to report it to the police. Our churches must stop failing our children. Parents must be held accountable when they do not protect all their children.
4) People who abuse are not monsters. They are making a choice. They are also often loved by the victims. When we dehumanize them, we take away from the fact that their humanness, their good traits, are part of what makes the trauma so confusing. Their goodness is part of the traumatic experience. We have no right to take that from victims. We must hold that awkward space of knowing people can be good and evil. Victims deserve to be supported in this space.
5) Victim’s everywhere watch when something big hits the media. Your responses tell victims in your life and in others lives what kind of support is available. It tells them what you think about sexual violence.
6) Every victim deserves to know it is not their fault, we believe them, and that we support the choices they want to make. This is vital.
7) Our children will hear these conversations. Please make sure the children you have contact with know their body belongs to them, how to keep it safe, and who to turn to. This includes remembering #5.
8) Last, but not least, we all know victims and we all know perpetrators–even if you don’t know their names. Learn how to work with victims, they deserve it. Get the courage to stand up against perpetration. Sexual violence can be stopped–if you are willing to be part of the solution.
– Misty Campbell