What cause does your ribbon symbolize? I asked naively. “Sexual abuse awareness” she replied sternly. Her young face had the eyes of an older woman. She looked determined and angry.
I forced a smile and looked for words of encouragement and compassion, but I was only able to say “you will help many others”.
The reality of that statement hit me as I walked away. “Many others”, yes there are many others who endure sexual abuse at the hands of their relatives, friends, or strangers. The statistics are chilling. Per The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) 44% of victims are under the age of 18; 15% under the age of 12. 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim including relatives.
54% of rapes are not reported. Some of them are not believed when reported. I worked in the Medical Malpractice Department for a number of years. One case that impacted me was of a woman suing a school psychologist who had reported her 6 year old daughter was being sexually abused by her father. The little girl described horrific details a child can never make up. The mother accused the psychologist of lying and discarded her daughter’s statements as stories of a vivid imagination. The rapist many times finds a willing participant to assist them in their crimes.
Sexual abuse of a child is in my opinion one of the most hideous crimes that can be committed against an innocent creature. The perpetrator’s sadistic thirst for satisfaction leaves long-lasting psychological damage in the victim that leads to a variety of problems in adulthood. An almost irreparable damage.
I hope the girl I met will find the strength to repair her life and move forward. That she will find good people who will help her rebuild her life, heal her wounds and give her hope. I pray that one day she will restore the faith that has taken away from her. One day she will be healed.