Recognize abuse in the family
Sexual abuse in the family is rarely a one-off occurrence. It is often a problem that affects not just a small part of the family, but the whole family. On the outside, these families appear completely normal. What is striking, however, is that in most cases they seal themselves off from the outside world. Children are not allowed to bring friends home etc.
In many of these cases, the individual family members feel unable to break out of this system. They fear breaking up the family and are therefore reluctant to turn to someone they trust with their problems. Children in particular have a hard time in such a situation because they cannot turn to their parents. Educators and teachers, but also pediatricians are particularly challenged here.
In addition to these extreme cases, there is also abuse in the family or among friends and acquaintances that presents itself differently. An uncle, a cousin, a neighbor or even the aunt can become the perpetrator. Abuse can also occur during occasional visits or when the children stay longer in the households of relatives or acquaintances.
Abuse by relatives – suspected cases
Experience shows that children who confide in an adult and address such a sensitive subject as sexual abuse rarely lie. Younger children in particular are usually not able to imagine such occurrences. If a child approaches you with such statements, believe them and remain calm. It is important that you do not allow yourself to be tempted to react too hastily. Understandably, you want to put an end to the situation immediately, confront your uncle or neighbor directly. This procedure is strongly discouraged. In most cases, this means that the victim is subsequently exposed to increased violence. If possible, an intervention should only be carried out with the help of specialists, for example the youth welfare office or the police.
Important signs of sexual abuse
Not every child can deal openly with the topic of abuse. It is often embarrassing for the children to talk about what they have experienced, and it is not uncommon for the perpetrator, who in this case comes from their closest surroundings, to exert pressure not to talk about what they have experienced – “That’s our secret!” or “Mom will be very angry with you if you tell her something like that.” How can you, as a parent or teacher, still recognize that an abuse incident has occurred? There are some behavioral issues that may indicate a boy or girl has been abused.
- A child who was otherwise open and full of life suddenly withdraws and is completely withdrawn.
- Sudden aggressive behavior
- The use of conspicuously sexual language
- The re-enactment of experienced situations or the painting of these situations
- The avoidance of places, situations or people
- Increased derogatory remarks about a specific person
All of these behaviors can be indicators of abuse. If you notice one or more of these behaviors, you should take a closer look. In addition to behavioral problems, are there also physical signs such as bruises, headaches, constant nausea, sexually transmitted diseases or loss of appetite?
When a case of abuse becomes known, it is important to be open and understanding towards the child. Let the child share their experience, don’t interrupt even if you are shocked yourself.
The perpetrators can also be the uncle or stepfather
At first glance, most perpetrators appear to be completely normal people. They lead a very ordinary life and are hardly noticeable to the outside world. Most perpetrators are male, according to statistics, 90% of perpetrators are men and 10% women, although there is probably a higher proportion of female perpetrators who are never reported.
Abuse by women is subject to an even greater taboo than that by male perpetrators. This fact is unacceptable. Anyone who suspects that there is abuse in the family, whether by a male or female family member, should intervene and not be afraid to investigate the suspicion.
How can I protect my child?
An important step in protecting your child is comprehensive sexual education for boys and sexual education for girls and related education, as well as empowering your children against abuse. On the one hand, your child should be given age-appropriate sexual education and, on the other hand, he should be shown certain boundaries. They should learn to set their own limits and say “no”. Rules of conduct are also an important part of prevention, for example the principle of not going with strangers, not simply getting into a stranger’s car, etc. Children who grow up in families in which problems and fears are discussed openly also have it easier to open up. In this way, a depressing experience can be discussed without the child having to be afraid of being ashamed. However, all of these things are made more difficult when there is abuse by the father or another family member. It is therefore all the more important that all family members react sensitively. Listen and follow up on a suspicion, no matter how much it hurts you! If the man or woman you love abuses your child, the well-being of the child must always take precedence over your own feelings! You also need to realize that your life can, or even must, change. Especially in cases of abuse in the immediate family circle, a change in the living environment is unavoidable, at least for a certain period of time. You also need to realize that your life can, or even must, change. Especially in cases of abuse in the immediate family circle, a change in the living environment is unavoidable, at least for a certain period of time. You also need to realize that your life can, or even must, change. Especially in cases of abuse in the immediate family circle, a change in the living environment is unavoidable, at least for a certain period of time.