I am writing this in memory of Chaucie Quillen, a child sexual abuse victim who ultimately took her own life on December 26, 1995, and in honor of all the child sexual abuse victims who are not believed.
First, Woody Allen has never been arrested for or convicted of child sexual abuse. Second, we believe you, Dylan Farrow, and we honor your bravery. (See New York Times: “An Open Letter From Dylan Farrow”)
How dare we – as a society – continue to try to prove or disprove Dylan Farrow’s allegation of sexual abuse at the hands of her father. It doesn’t really matter who her father is; 20 years ago, a 7 year-old girl said that her father sexually violated her. It is impossible for us to know if she was/is telling truth. Impossible. Only two people know the absolute truth here. But how dare we dismiss the allegation simply because her father is famous or because her parents were in the middle of a custody battle or because 7 year-olds aren’t typically the most credible or the best witnesses or because…
The list of reasons to not believe the child is nearly endless. But the list of reasons to believe the child is very short. In fact, there is really only one reason to believe the child: Because he/she said it; therefore asking us for help.
Twenty years ago, our understanding and knowledge about child sexual abuse was very different than it is today. Twenty years ago, almost every child sexual abuse case was “he said…she said”; there was little to no effort or ability to prove this crime. Today we understand that child sexual abuse is very, very difficult to prove because of the lack of physical evidence and corroborating evidence in most cases.
Twenty years ago we understood so little about child sexual abuse that we allowed many external factors to determine a child’s credibility. Today we know that only 4 to 8 percent of child sexual abuse reports are fabricated. We also know that nearly two-thirds of all the children sexually abused don’t ever disclose their abuse.
Twenty years ago we understood so little about the immediate and long-term effects of child sexual abuse. Today we understand that being abused as a child is so much more than ‘a bad experience’; it is trauma. Some victims of child sexual abuse suffer higher rates of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than combat veterans. And what is the number one factor that impacts how a child will be affected by this trauma? Whether he or she is believed at disclosure – how much love and support the child receives at disclosure.
So, let’s stop judging our children. Let’s believe them and give them the love and support they need.
Toby is the executive director of Chaucie's Place, a nonprofit child advocacy organization, located in Carmel, IN, that offers programs for child sexual abuse and youth suicide prevention. Raising awareness about child abuse prevention and intervention, Toby speaks with groups and at conferences throughout Indiana. To learn how you can help or to invite Toby to present to your organization, visit Chaucie’s Place website at www.chauciesplace.org or “like” them on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/Chaucies-Place.
Raising awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse has become Ginger’s life mission. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger can be contacted via her website, “Ginger Kadlec: 4UrKids” at gingerkadlec.comor find her on Facebook at facebook.com/gingergkadlec.
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