Graphic Details

I have listened to many phone calls and read many emails and blogs regarding a child sexual abuse survivor’s story. All of them grab my heart; all of them torment me. All are a painful reconstruction of what happened to an innocent child. Some cover the abuse up with words carefully coached not to say the actual graphic details. To them it is painful enough that they had to go through it. Giving vividly realistic descriptions would only rain more pain down on them than they have already experienced. Others feel that only by giving graphic details, describing each action done to them, can clearly bring the release they need. It is as if taking the action and putting it into words clearly illustrating everything can take the burden of guilt and shame off their shoulders. Both take great courage.

The other day in reading an online “childabuse Daily” newsletter that I subscribe to, I was stunned and sickened to see a headline regarding a parent who had beheaded their child. My first thought was do you need to be so graphic? Falling fast on the heels of that thought was and exactly how else are they supposed to report it, Dummy?

We all would greatly appreciate it if life were nothing but fairy tale stories of love and joy and kindness. Most of my friends and family would rather I never mentioned the work I’m doing. I don’t blame them. Some of the stories I’ve heard have horrified and depressed me a great deal. Only my husband knows how often he finds me sobbing after reading an email from someone who wants to tell me their story. But what would get accomplished if I decided I never wanted to hear them? The truth is, and it is ugly, child sexual abuse is rampant in our world, the entire world, not just in the United States. In fact, the statistics in some other countries, especially Pakistan, India and countries in Africa are much worse than the ones in our country.

I totally understand people’s aversions to anything to do with child sexual abuse. Only the survivors can bear the stories and sometimes not even them. But these stories exist and the people who lived through them need to tell them and they need the right to tell them as they feel they have to. I am asking people please to try to be more understanding, more compassionate. I am also asking survivors who wish to share their stories with all the graphic details on line where the public has access to them to put a warning sign first, much as some of the television cable news does. A simple: Warning, This story contains details that may be offensive to the reader”, would at least give people a heads up so they can choose whether they wish to read the story or not.

In our world, other people’s misfortunes find their way into print. We read them, almost with a salacious enjoyment. We also want to make sure we find nothing actually offensive. Really!

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