What are the myths about child sexual abuse?
Adults who sexually abuse children were abused themselves
Research has shown that male abusers are more likely to disclose a history of sexual abuse compared to other males. However the majority of male abusers do not disclose being sexually abused in childhood (source: asca.org.au)
Sexual abusers are mentally ill
Most abusers have no mental illness and do not meet the diagnosis for paedophilia. Surveys have shown that a minority of men in the community show interest in having sex with children. Sexual abuse is not about sex but it is about power and control. In fact any kind of abuse is about power and control. Abuse is all about the distorted needs of the abusers and they have a choice as to whether or not to abuse.
Children are usually abused by strangers
In most cases, children are abused by people they know. Research shows that more than 70% of sexual abuse cases, the abuser is a friend, relative or a person close to the child.
People lie about child abuse because they are attention seekers
Research and statistics from law enforcement agencies show that people rarely make up claims of being abused in childhood. To the contrary many adults tend not to disclose that they were abused as children when in fact they were the victims of abuse.
People don’t forget child sexual abuse. Recovered memories are therefore false
The mind has the ability to forget about the abuse that a person has suffered. This ability is known as traumatic amnesia. One purpose of traumatic amnesia is to allow us to temporarily forget for the purpose of survival. Traumatic amnesia is widespread and documented amongst survivors of holocaust, disasters and abuse. Research has shown that adults have a natural ability to detect betrayal and they automatically tend to avoid further contact with people who have betrayed them. Differently from children, adults are usually physically and emotionally independent and therefore can freely decide whether or not to avoid people who have betrayed them. On the other hand, a child is dependent on a care takers for physical and emotional safety and avoiding them as a result of being abused would result in further harm and danger to the child. The trauma of the abuse therefore requires that information about the abuse is blocked so that the child can tolerate staying with the abusive family system in order to survive. Memories relating to the abuse can re-emerge later in life under the form of intrusive thoughts, nightmares and flashbacks and are often referred to as recovered memories.