Whoever shall offend one of these little ones who believe on me, it would be good for the abuser rather if a millstone lay about his neck and he were cast into the sea. – Mark 9:42
I recently heard a report from a dear sister who went to a secondary school to talk on child sexual abuse, and it was really disheartening to see the number of respondents who had been abused or were still being constantly abused by their fathers, mothers, step-parents, uncles and so on.
Most times, sexual abuse in Nigeria largely goes unreported because of the burden of proof necessary for conviction as well as the social stigma attached to it. Nevertheless, it has contributed significantly to the increasing number of emotionally and physically unbalanced people in our community.
Sexual abuse inflicts not just physical injuries but also damages the mind, emotions, sexuality and perception of the child if not properly handled.
Child sexual abuse includes touching a child’s genitals or private parts for sexual pleasure or making a child touch someone else’s genitals, play sexual games or have sex, putting objects or body parts (like fingers, tongue or penis) inside the vagina, in the mouth or in the anus of a child for sexual pleasure or asking a child to read pornographic material.
It is one of the ways the devil tries to silence people, thereby thwarting their destinies. Talk of Maya Angelou, Oprah Wilfrey, Joyce Meyer—the list is endless.According to a Child Protection Network (CPN) report, no fewer than 100,000 children are abused in Lagos aloneevery day. More disturbing is the fact that many of these cases go unreported and the perpetrators go scot-free. The best therapy to child abuse is therefore PREVENTION.
Abuse is usually not perpetuated by strangers, but by close relatives, friends and sometimes the enforcement agents handling the abuse cases. This is because most abusers usually gain the trust and love of their victims first. Therefore, do not leave your children unattended for a long period of time with anyone of the opposite sex or even same sex (homosexual child abuse is becoming rampant).Seventy percent of child abuse happens in the homes of people the children trust.
Ensure that the school, daycare or crèche you send your children to has a child protection policy in place.
Have a healthy relationship with your children.
Some signs of abuse include being secretive; becoming withdrawn or clingy; refusal to be around a certain person; pain, discoloration or bleeding from genital; use of new adult words for body parts; regression to younger behaviour such as bedwetting; acting in an inappropriately sexual way with toys/objects—the list is endless.
If you have been abused, below are suggestions on how to deal with it:
1) Understand that it was not your fault. Do not live in denial and donot play the blame game. It is not your fault it happened! There is never an excuse to abuse anyone.
2) Speak up. Tell someone you can trust; it could be your parent, guardian or counsellor. Given the stoic society we live in, certain experiences are never voiced out and the victims simply suffer in silence. Sometimes, the family of the abused may even blame the victim. Generations have therefore suffered without speaking out for fear of public criticism/ridicule, stigmatisation or because “no one will believe them”.
We will believe, so speak up! Parents, believe your children if they ever complain about anyone and take action on it.
3) Go for medical examination.
4) Forgive the perpetrator(s). Forgive??? Yes, forgive! It might be hard but unforgiveness is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die. Forgiveness also helps you heal faster. You might not have control over the past, but you have the ability to control your future. Do not let someone’s action destroy your future.
You can demand justice by reporting to the appropriate authorities. Do not take the law into your own hand. Absalom’s hatred for the abuse of his sister by Amnon made him commit murder and he ended up in exile (2 Samuel 13:29, 34). Did the murder of Amnon help Tamar in any way? I do not think so; maybe some fleeting satisfaction but it did not change her situation.
5) Allow God heal and restore you. Hebrews 4:15 says we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses. Joyce Meyer wrote about how she was abused by her father, yet God is using her tremendously because she yielded to Him (God).
6) Watch your company and guard your environment. Do not stay alone with anyone of the opposite sex in an enclosed place irrespective of the relationship. Amnon was Tamar’s half-brother; the devil can use any vessel that yields to him.
Parents, ensure the environment in which you raise your children is safe and secure. And if you have been abused, God will heal and restore. He will give beauty for ashes, oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
Child sexual abuse is a reality that calls for urgent solution. The responsibility is on everyone to stop the devil from destroying the future of the young generation. Whilst praying about what can be done.
Child sexual abuse is a reality that calls for urgent solution. The responsibility is on everyone to stop the devil from destroying the future of the young generation. Whilst praying about what can be done, the Holy Spirit laid it in my heart to write a book – this is my little contribution to increasing awareness about it. I encourage you to prayerfully receive direction from God on what you can do to be a change agent and prevent further abuse.
Nigeria has a great future!