Commentaries posted do not necessarily represent the opinion of LDN.
 Any opinions expressed are those of the writers.

Healing the silent cancer of child sexual abuse          Send a link to a friend

By Linde Grace White, M.Ed.

[APRIL 8, 2006]  Along with toenail fungus and hemorrhoids, child sexual abuse is one of those unsavory things we don't even want to think about. We prefer to hide from it or simply change the subject.

We rationalize that it happens occasionally and sometimes makes the papers. Yet, in a room of 100 people, as many as 20 to 25 of them likely will have been victimized by this most insidious form of child abuse. Why don't we know this? Because those who have experienced this trauma often are shamed and silenced in a variety of emotionally manipulative ways by their perpetrators or families.

Mother taught us it's not polite to air our dirty laundry. And what could be dirtier? That was my own mom's phobia. So she became a co-dependent accomplice to my father's incestuous abuse of me, beginning when I was only 2.

My daddy taught Sunday school, went to work every day and brought home his paycheck. He did not drink to excess and used no drugs. He served on the church council and enjoyed a good sermon on faith. He also beat my brother regularly. My brother can't remember a time when Daddy ever smiled at him. On the other hand, I was Daddy's "dollbaby." I developed alter personalities to cope with his abuse and hid the painful memories deep within my consciousness.

I don't know when it stopped or exactly how many other little girls he abused, but I do know some of them. When I finally remembered, it took nearly nine years and a load of money and effort for me to heal. I could not confront my dad because he already had died. Anyway, abusers often don't believe they are doing anything wrong.

We all are affected in some way by child sexual abuse, and it costs taxpayers a lot of money. The estimated numbers of victims (25-30 percent of girls, 17-20 percent of boys 18 and younger) should horrify us. And those numbers don't include child neglect and physical abuse.

The great majority of sexually abused children are violated by someone they know -- generally, someone the child has been taught to love and respect. It may be a parent or other relative, teacher, clergy person, Scout leader, coach, or neighbor. The abuse is perpetrated by someone who has power over the child. Too often, it is the person who eats meals with the child, puts the food on the table and the clothes on his or her back, and takes the child for medical attention.

[to top of second column]

Why do perpetrators do it? They do it because they can, often because of dysfunctional patterns from their own childhood. In their warped egos, they view children as objects that they can own and control. Abusers may threaten the child ("I'll kill you or your mother/sister/brother if you tell," or "Your family will leave you or stop loving you"). They tell the child anything at all to gain control.

What can we do to help victims and lower the $94 billion annual cost of child sexual abuse? First and foremost, become aware of the children around you. Carefully report any abuse you suspect, even if anonymously. If you are a victim or co-victim, get out. My friend made a sad choice. She killed her abuser and is now in prison.

Various recovery organizations, ministries and counselors exist to help. Books can help. Law enforcement will investigate, and the legal system can prosecute. It's not easy, but you can survive and even thrive, in time.

You need not feel ashamed for being a victim. You are not the bad person. You are a lovable, worthwhile contributor to humanity. You are alive, and you can help someone else.

Please join me in making people aware and in preventing or stopping any abusive behaviors you may observe or suspect. Get the help you need or help your child get it. The earlier the intervention, the better. But it's never too late. The return on the investment is fabulous. I know.

[Linde Grace White]

Linde Grace White, a retired special education teacher, is the author of "Dollbaby: Triumph Over Childhood Sexual Abuse." Her e-mail address is

Click here to respond to the editor about this article.

Related commentary


< Recent commentaries

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching & Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law & Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health & Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor