Even when sexual activity is introduced into the relationship, not all children will understand the extent of the abuse right away. By the time they do - it may seem too late to tell. The feelings of complicity, responsibility, and guilt make them afraid to tell. They may feel bound to protect their abuser- "your parents will kill me" "I'll lose my job" "they'll put me/us in jail." People think that a child would become afraid of their abuser, but the truth is, they may still care for this person and may be afraid of losing the relationship.
If a child hears that abusers are "monsters", they may actually be more susceptible to grooming tactics and less likely to report abuse. The term, essentially, is misleading to children and adults and continues the misconception for who the real sexual abusers of children are.
It's also important that we do not take on a position of violence if someone were to hurt our children - "I'd kill anyone that hurt you," because this attitude may make a child even more afraid to tell - they may not want this person to be hurt or have someone else get into trouble.
We must do our best to explain to our children that people that do the wrong thing don't always look like "bad" people. That even we, as adults, might even trust the wrong people. Which is why we must remind our children that it's always right to tell ,and that it's never too late - we wont be angry or disappointed, we will believe them and listen.
This is one of the most difficult lessons for both adults and children to understand, because so often people do not even suspect abusers, don't believe victims when they tell, and are too often, quick to forgive & make excuses for abusers because they often are "nice" people with clean track records and a history of good works and many friends. All the things we've come to believe would identify a good, safe person - do not apply when it comes to sexual abuse.
To quote Socrates: "The only true knowledge is in knowing you know nothing."
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