This study is based on a 16 year old girl who was sexually abused by both of her parents with no one to turn to. The purpose of this study is to inform readers on different types of physical and mental distress children and young teens suffer from when they are sexually abused. Many adolescents suffer from sexual abuse and is usually assaulted by a family member. Therefore, it does not get reported. Children are less likely to speak up in this situation because they are either too young to understand what is going on or are afraid to speak up because they are threatened by their perpetrator. This is a very important topic because it often happens in low income families or within African American children who usually don’t have the privilege to tell their truth. Also, children are less likely to be heard when they are going through these types of situations so they suffer in silence. A lot of parents tend to disbelieve their child because another family member is the perpetrator. Her story is also to inform people about why it is important to listen to children when they decide to speak up about their story.
Precious is a 16 year old African American girl from Harlem. She lives with her mother who is unemployed and relies on welfare to survive. While living with her mother, Precious gets physically, verbally, and sexually abused by her. Precious has been sexually abused since she was just a newborn. At just three years old she was raped by her father, by age 12 she became pregnant by her father and had a baby girl that suffered from Down syndrome. Precious’s daughter currently lives with their grandmother and only visits when it is time for their monthly visit from the case worker to receive extra money from the government. The mother believes Precious is the reason her father left. Therefore, she physically abuses her when she is upset and molests her as well. Over time Precious ran away from home, had her baby boy, decided to learn how to read and write to get her GED and eventually started a new family for her and her two children after finding out she is HIV positive.
Child sexual abuse is the sexual exploitation or sexual activities with a child under circumstances that indicate that the child’s health or welfare is harmed or threatened (Wallace & Roberson 2011). In this case Precious was experiencing interfamilial sexual abuse which includes exploitative sexual contact between relatives. Both, her mother and father were sexually abusing her. When Precious was just a new born her father molested her and would masturbate in front of her until she was three years old, by that time she was raped by him. Her father continued to rape her until she was 16 years old and impregnated her twice. She is currently pregnant again by him. Because of the incest her first child was diagnosed with down syndrome. She started to get molested by her mother when her father decided to leave. She would also get physically abused with objects such as plates, pans, plants, and a television when her mother felt disobeyed.
When the act of sexual abuse occurs most victims do not show any visible physical evidence. Child sexual abuse isn’t always easy to notice. The perpetrator could be someone you’ve known for a long time, which makes it harder for people to report. When the sexual abuse started there were no physical signs of abuse because her perpetrator was only fondling with her body or self pleased himself. Her father would use vaseline as lubrication to make it easier for him. Because of this Precious suffered with genital pain, swelling, and eventually pregnancy. When Precious disobeyed her mother demands, she would get into physical fights with her mother. After she fought her mother oftentimes she would suffer from head injuries, bruises on her body, and one time knocked unconscious. Though Precious suffered from many injuries, no one ever noticed unless she confessed and was later informed that she was HIV positive.
Some indicators of abuse were behavioral issues such as fighting, doing poorly in school, stealing, delays with learning, and isolation amongst her peers. Precious was always alone during school and at home and always had her head down when she walked or sat down. Her mother never allowed her to talk when the social worker came around and did not like when she attended school. Often times she would daydream about a life she wanted to live when someone bullied her and if she was getting abused. Precious would also get attached easily to people that made her feel special or was kind to her.
The general systems theory is the cause of the abuse occurring in their household. According to Wallace and Roberson (2011) whenever a family member engages in violence, this may be a positive feedback for them because the violence created the desired result they were looking for. When family members engage in acts of violence, it fulfills their own self-concept of being violent. Precious mother made herself believe Precious is the reason her father left so in return, she would sexually, physically, and verbally abuse her to get the fulfillment she needed. She knew in order to feel in control she had to insult Precious with degrading words to make her feel less of herself. Once her mother got the reaction she was seeking for she would go back to her daily routine which was smoking, watching television, and having a drink.
Child sexual abuse can cause long term effects if children do not receive treatment. This is one of the reasons why some adults are still suffering with childhood trauma. If victims do not receive treatment they can suffer with long term effects such as acute stress, secondary stress, and tertiary stress. This is one of the most common effects on children and adolescents. Also, teen pregnancy, over sexualized behavior, and sexually transmitted diseases are long term effects. Some long term effects Precious suffered from being teen pregnancy and a sexually transmitted disease that has no cure. She experienced both of these traumas by the age of 16. Precious now has to take medication daily for HIV, have frequent visits to the hospital, and is left as a single parent of two children. Precious now has weekly appointments with her social worker and teacher to seek help on how to deal with her situation.
As a mandated reporter it is expected that anyone who works in education, welfare, child services, health care, and law enforcement are to report any suspicious behaviors, bruises, neglect and any form of abuse. Professional judgement should be used when it comes to any child safety and reported to us immediately. It is our duty to protect each child and provide a safe environment for their welfare or well-being. Further decisions will later be dealt with in front of the judge after further investigations.
In closing, child sexual abuse is is very harmful that can affect a child’s life long term. This is a very common form of abuse that is underlooked and is very common with young girls. Prevention can be as simple as making a child feel comfortable speaking up, educating children about boundaries, identifying any form of indications of abuse, and most importantly reporting any suspicious actions.