The Effects of Silence: Unheard Outcries of Child Sexual Abuse

Chelsy Clammer in TNB:

TNB-article-David-767x1024“I have a secret,” David said. Then, silence. No secret spilled. Not for another three months. Next, his outbursts, explosions of anger. Throwing glass on the floor, acting up at home, punches thrown, and goes to preschool with the same attitude—rage snapping at random. But he still couldn’t say what he had to say, and even if he did, would anyone listen? Children are to be seen, not heard. Though actions, of course, speak louder than words. When a four-year-old throws his puppy across the backyard, it’s hard not to hear how he needs to speak. Though there’s the fact of that antiquated thought, a belief born and raised in the Victorian era, one that has sustained centuries of adherence: Children should be seen, not heard. In other words, this ageist slogan is saying that children are inherently unruly. Disruptive. Each one of them. And rude. Absolutely. They run around restaurants and twirl around stores, cartwheel down aisles breaking every social more, every code of conduct we’ve put in place to police our interactions. Kids are inconsiderate and cause breakables to crash to the floor, because they insist on seeing with their hands, not with their eyes. But we were all children at one point—have all experienced the ways in which kids are shushed. We all know how it feels to be seen as just a kid who gets on adults’ nerves, especially when shouting just to be heard. So what’s a kid to do if he needs to speak up? Speak out? What’s a kid to do when an adult sees him with more than just his eyes and then he’s told not to tattle—or else? Violence is suspended in the onslaught of his silence. What about when that adult doesn’t know how to keep his hands to himself?

…And then he threw the dog and then Hannah screamed and Emma ran out to the backyard and asked him what was going on. “He said he didn’t want to tell me,” Emma explains. “After sitting in timeout and crying silently, he then said, ‘Okay, I really have to tell you something.’ I told him no, that he needed to tell his therapist. Then he said, ‘No Momma, I really have to tell you something.’”

Okay. Go.

What do you do when your four-year-old son tells you that your ex-boyfriend took him into the bathroom?

More here.