Survivor Lends Voice to Child Abuse Prevention
“Both sexual assault and child abuse are so distressful to most of us that we don’t even want to think about them being present in our society,” Deitz says. “This makes it almost impossible for any victim of assault or abuse to feel comfortable enough to speak out, which is, of course, exactly what they need to be able to do. Be it a child, a teenager or an adult, anyone who has been abused needs to be able to speak about what has been done to them without question or judgment.
“But instead of being made to feel safe talking about it,” she adds, “more often than not, they are made to feel as if they are the ones at fault. As a result, they tend to repress the experience, stuffing it down deep inside and allowing what has happened to define who they believe themselves to be. They begin living out a victim mentality where nothing good can ever happen because they think of themselves as unworthy or not good enough to deserve it.”
According to Deitz, survivors of sexual abuse are three times more likely to suffer from depression, 13 times more likely to become addicted to alcohol and 26 more times more likely to develop an addiction to drugs. The shame, despair, depression and inability to cope with the painful events lead them to seek other ways to block out the memories and dull the pain.
Deitz believes the annual focusing of public attention on sexual assault and child abuse throughout the month of April can be beneficial in aiding all victims of abuse. “Survivors want to know they are being heard and that they will be safe and protected,” she says. “They do not need to be silenced because their situation makes others feel uncomfortable or is too hard to hear. To the contrary, they need people around them who are willing to listen and willing to stand up for them if they choose to go public. During this national month of awareness, the more people will become tuned in to just how prevalent this problem is in our country, the more beneficial it will be for everyone.”
Visit Shannon’s blog at http://www.shannonmdeitz.com/category/blog