An Unspoken War
To honor Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month, we have invited our youth to share their stories first-hand in their own words. Child abuse is a taboo topic, and children are often left to suffer in silence. Hear their voices. Read their stories. The below was written by a young woman named Lisa, who requested we use her name and photograph for this story.
April 6, 2016 – When most people think of Child Abuse Awareness Month, they think about decorating pretty blue ribbons around the office. That’s far from it. Child Abuse Awareness is about hope. It’s about what happens behind closed doors. It’s about the silence. Abuse victims aren’t wearing any pretty blue decorations. They are walking around with a burden in their head. They are constantly asking “Why me?”, “What did I do wrong?”, “ When will it stop?”, “Is someone going to save me?”, “Maybe, if I had just listened, then this wouldn’t happen”. These children are fighting are war no one knows about.
When I think about Child Abuse Awareness, I think back to my story. I, just like so many other children around the world, was fighting a war no one knew anything about. My father was abusive towards my brothers and I. He was physically abusive to my brother. He was both physically abusive and sexually abusive towards me. No one in the house knew of the sexual abuse I was going through. The physical abuse wasn’t a secret in the house, but it was a big secret we all had to carry if we were to leave the house. No one was ever allowed to say anything to anyone about it.
People often asked about the marks and bruises on the skin. We often made up stories and said things like, “I fell”, “I’m clumsy”, and “I just tripped on something”. Over the years, it just kept getting harder and harder to cover up the physical abuse. Personally, I was fighting another war that my brothers didn’t even know about. It was bad enough carrying all the lies and excuses for the physical abuse, but carrying the sexual abuse was unbearable.
When I think of Child Abuse Awareness, I think of the days I spent hiding under the bed and pretending to be asleep. I think of the days I spent hiding in the closet in the middle of the night. I think of all the nights I stayed up not knowing what was going to happen the following day. I think of the times I locked myself in the bathroom to hide from my father. Child Abuse Awareness is not about just me, it’s about every child that goes through this. I was going through a lot at the time. I kept thinking it would never end, and this was the worst thing that could ever happen. Now, I realized I am actually blessed because they are people that go through this, and they don’t make it.
Remember every ten seconds a report for child abuse is made. 1 in 3 girls would be sexually abused. 1 in 5 boys would be sexually abused. 1 in every 5 children die from child abuse. The next time you decorate your office with the pretty blue ribbons, remember what this month is really about.
Show support on National Child Abuse Awareness Month for the children like me. Let them know they aren’t fighting this war alone.
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