Child rape is a horrendous crime. This type of crime leads to the victims losing their lives. Early intervention is critically important to helping the victim get though, but is often prevented when the threats on the child are so severe and the memories so powerfully violent that it is not possible for the child to disclose. Many times it has a lifelong toll. What also should be mentioned is that a victim who experiences multiple abuses is most likely to experience even more severe life long effects.
Most people think they know everything about sexual abuse and its effects. The truth is, they do not, unless they themselves have been abused in the same manner. Many assume victims overrate this crime as self pity though this is so far from the truth. Victims, in fact, are more likely to hide its deepest effects especially when victimized as children, so the embarrassment becomes more difficult to disclose. The reality is that if more people really understood the horrors, they would demand that their politicians make changes in the laws.
Even more harmful are remarks made by those who are unaware, like "get on with your life". Victims internalize these remarks as completely unfair and use it for further self-destruction. This then makes it more difficult for them to resolve and move forward.
THE POWER OF THE MIND
The mind is powerful as it has the ability to protect traumatized victims from dealing with the cruel realities of the childhood rape. On the other hand, had the victims been able to report what was happening, the effects would have been less devastating. The reality is that the mind with its ability to block traumatic memories takes over as a self protective mechanism. Without this protective mechanism, these horrors would cause insanity. So then, the victim's horrific memories are avoided automatically without the victim's control. Even more so, the devastating effects of this avoidance at a very young age results in a life time of unintentional disruptions.
These disruptions begin in childhood following the traumatic event and takes shape in many forms. The most immediate include the loss in the child's development of the many tools that help most in dealing with life's problems as they grow. Instead, when a victim is challenged with a problem, they "act out" with uncontrolled emotions that are internalized rather than with reasoning. Their dealing with problems begins to lack balance causing isolation and rage when it makes the least sense. These effects include, but are not limited to: Lost education, lost emotional foundations and a loss of realism resulting in constant fears, (i.e. vigilance). Because of the effects initiated by the traumatic abuse, the victim leads a life that most people simply do not understand. What is alarming is that many people actually think that if this had happened to them, they would have reacted in a different way. This is simply not possible as the many leading psychotherapists will confirm.
Just as our minds protect us from the trauma, another effect is that the moment the victim thinks about their abuse, a "trigger" occurs: YOU must keep this quiet! This occurs without a chance for reasoning. The result is the victim does not evaluate the situation normally and instead jumps out of the way as if a speeding car were about to hit them. Many times a victim will experience feelings of fear and tremble without knowing why.
THE REAL EFFECTS
The effects on children into adulthood become more severe and devastating. Those whose memories become revealed before they are able to accept them are often committed to institutions. They are often misdiagnosed, labeled psychotic or manic depressive and worse. They are 'treated' with drugs, locked away somewhere, or regarded as something sub-human.
Others, who keep the memory tucked away, commit suicide. Many live lives of lawlessness due to intentional self infliction of pain. Some exist in a "fake" world, trying to behave like 'normal' people but lacking the ability to do so. The result is chaos. The reality is that the victims have no concept this is even happening to them. They escape from reality, without the ability to reason. This begins many times in their later teens and continues becoming even more disruptive into their 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's .. Many develop an inability to commit, resulting in lost marriages, jobs and financial responsibilities. Other examples include drug use, alcoholism and other addictions. A life lived without awareness of that life is the victim's reality.
Consider this; a child who is hit hard on the head with a hand becomes aware that it hurts. If this happens more than once, that child will start to flinch without even knowing it every time a hand gets close to their head. Then the more often they are hit, the more likely this flinch will become permanent. This is uncontrolled and unlearned. What is noticeable to the outsider is the constant flinch while the child and later adult will honestly deny they ever made a move. Likewise, a child of sexual abuses will many times dissociate themselves during their abuse as if their body were someone else's body being abused. They do this because the abuse was so painful and gruesome, no adult could ever stomach this happening to such a small child. This dissociation plus the fear of threats afterwards generates so much mental distortion that it becomes their flinch of irrational thinking and chaos.
Many of the emotions dealt with in life are commonly used in different situations. Many of today's emotions are the same ones experienced at the time of the abuse. Given a familiar emotion with traumatic memories tied to it, the victim flinches irrationally. The victim now reacts with their guard up in a situation that others would consider non-threatening. The flinch effects, though not apparent to others, is internalized in the victim without any understanding of its threat, much like Pavlov's theory. Most people will stop, reason and apply normal problem solving, where the victim is simply engulfed in emotions. This ability is blocked because the minds pathways to reasoning are interrupted as they touch the horrific memories. This now heightened internalized emotion becomes so overwhelming in the victim making rational thinking an unknown.
Have you ever heard of someone say "How could they have harmed their loved ones by committing suicide?" Or "Why do they continue committing the same crimes, don't they ever learn?" The answer is no, they are simply unable to reason normally. Crimes of rape are humiliating, destroying the very human character in people and the result is a feeling of worthlessness. In the end the victim feels they need to be punished. The reactions are to punish themselves many times more severely than anyone else could. So this inability of reasoning, the feeling of worthlessness and the need to self punish are all wrapped around an unusually strong internalized emotional drive. This emotional drive, seemingly without reason, is as intense and as hopeless as a building completely engulfed in a blazing flame reaching to the sky. We simply accept the doom, as all has been lost. Understanding this powerfully emotional drive gives way to understanding the victim's unpredictable actions and sometimes leading to ultimate self destruction.
DESTROYED LIVES AND THE AWARENESS
The more severe the abuse, the longer it takes before the victim is able to deal with it. As a child, the victim was threatened many times and as an adult it becomes deeply buried. This does not mean that a memory's glimpse of the abuse does not appear in their mind; rather the mind quickly dismisses it. What people do not realize is that some victims are 40, 50, 60 years old before they can deal with their abuse as the mind begins allowing it in. As the flooding of memories begin trickling in, also does the realization that ones life was lived in isolation without the chance to experience it. When this occurs you can imagine such a loss and now a new trauma which is this realization.
The victim's life was stolen, missing the many joys of family and successful careers. Imagine the victim acting out in lawlessness who after being incarcerated cries "Why do I keep doing this to myself." Then when released, this cycle continues. This turmoil is so torturous that it is beyond what anyone could ever imagine.
JUSTICE IS DESERVED
Now you might think we do capture and prosecute these rapists today. You may also think that those crimes committed so long ago, justice is simply out of reach. You might also ask how we can convict someone for a crime committed so long ago? Here's the reality check. The child rapists completely ruined lives and they continue their crimes today. These criminals are more often unaccountable allowing them to continue their crimes with virtually no recourse. The reason is that the victim is unable to deal with the trauma until a much later time in life at which time laws kick in to protect the criminal, "the perfect crime." The protection for the criminal begins with those States with a clause regarding personal injury on crimes like this stating a limitation to the time period when prosecutions can be brought forward. In most states it means that the victim usually only has until they are 17 or 22 years old. These limitations in the laws are called "Statutes of Limitations", or SOL. The problem is there is no way possible the victim could have ever dealt with this in this limited time period. Most rapist know this well and even more so, they know the more brutal they are with the child, the longer it will be before the child is able to deal with it some into their 60's.
Simply said, child rapists just don't care about their victims and do not have any value for human life. And it's not so much the sex that matters to them; rather the complete and total domination over their victims. The child suffering in pain is their pleasure and excitement. These rapists continue into their 70's and 80's and the reality is that these are criminals that commit crimes against children for so long as they live. The older they get the greater their obsession. Murder carries no SOL and the murderer usually have only one victim, the child rapist's averages 80 to hundreds of victims. The victim of a child rapist not only lost their ability to live a normal life, but wakes up one day much later in life to realize this lost life. This realization is so tragic and sickening.
What is really discouraging is that because the victim takes so long to deal with this, these criminals just do not get caught. In fact even more discouraging is many work together or at least know about one another. Finally, the missing children from long ago are statistically victims of these very criminals. Imagine if we could arrest and convict, just then might we be able to get some to talk about other's crimes as we did when we enacted the RICO to arrest and convict the many mobsters. We can do this but we all must stomp our feet and demand our senators to change the laws. Add to this, if our Judges would begin hearing these cases without acknowledging SOL. Their comments would make sense to say "We never defined an SOL for crimes so horrendous.", then move forward with a trial.
HOW TO PROVE THE CRIME
One of the most ridiculous statements ever said in the media is from those guilty of harboring predators. They say that the crime happened so long ago that they can not prove their innocence. How ludicrous! And the statement is better said, "It is more difficult to create a fictitious believable alibi because they would now have to remember believable events to cover up their crimes from some time long ago".
There is NO law that can help these victims, and there are NO laws that would enable the courts to deem abuse as horrendous crimes. Consider also as that more victims come forward they will unquestionably validate the same criminal's acts against them, thereby unquestionably validating the crime. Our children are a gift to the future, our futures and the future of this county. And these criminals turn society upside-down causing complete chaos which everyone must now pay for. There are 1000's and 1000's of these child rapists that we can unquestionably prove their many crimes. We can not convict them, and worse is they have access to our children and to child pornography today.
So remember, the victim did nothing to deserve it, the criminal did. Who do you believe should pay?
This article was submitted by Pete Lafond, a victim of sex abuse. Thank you for the courage to share a deep understanding of the lifelong effects of sex abuse -- God bless you. Pete can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org