There are many myths about childhood abuse. Here we explain some of them.
– It is the child’s fault as children can be seductive
A child cannot consent to the abuse and rarely understands what is happening to them. This is a reason why telling someone is difficult as they do not have the vocabulary to describe what is happening. It is not the child’s or young persons fault and they should never be viewed as ‘asking for it’.
– Child abuse only happens in poor communities
Child abuse can happen in any household, regardless of ethnic background, culture, religion or economic status.
– Sexual abuse is a rare occurrence
The recent Rotherham report, with over 1,400 cases of abuse, expels this myth.
– Only young girls are victims
As Jordans act for male victims who have suffered sexual, emotional and physical abuse we know this is not true.
– Abuse victims go on to abuse
While this may be an excuse used by perpetrators support group NAPAC says they have no reason to believe this is true as most survivors who contact them are so traumatised by what happened they would not do the same to someone else.
– Women do not abuse children
While men are more likely to sexually abuse a child mothers/women are more likely to be physically violent and to neglect a child.
– You can spot a perpetrator
There are no visible signs of a perpetrator. Some people assume they are dirty, smelly old men when in reality they can be a friendly neighbour or a family member.
– The offender is usually mentally ill
Most people who sexually abuse children are not mentally ill. They are often married or have sexual relationships with adults as well.
– It is only homosexuals who abuse children of their own sex Offenders are most commonly heterosexual men, even if the victim is a boy. Many offenders are married and live with children.
– People do not “forget” child abuse, therefore “recovered memories” are false
Traumatic amnesia has been documented amongst war veterans, survivors of natural and man-made disasters, and adult survivors of child abuse. These memories can later resurface through flashbacks, nightmares and intrusive thoughts. These memories have sometimes been called “recovered memories”.
– Children are very suggestible and they can easy “make up” stories of abuse
Research has shown that children resist making false reports during leading and suggestive interviewing techniques. Since the early 1990s, training has been available to social workers and psychotherapists in relation to neutral and evidence-based interviewing techniques with children who disclose abuse.