The fact that sexual abuse and assault continue to happen is a great horror of society. What’s also jarring is the fact that many abuse victims don’t come forward. People have their own personal reasons as to why they don’t share this information. However, beginning to recognize at least some of the reasons can lead to greater understanding in society and more means to encourage victims to share what happened.
Fear of Retaliation
One major reason why some abuse victims do not report the crime is because they are afraid of retaliation. They may not recognize or trust the systems that are put in place to protect them. Furthermore, they might worry about what will happen if the abuser is not found guilty of the crime. They may fear that the abuse will continue or that even worse situations could arise.
Relationship with the Abuser
In a number of scenarios, victims know their abusers before the abuse occurs. The abuser might be a significant other, relative, friend or other trusted individual. Despite the fact that the abuse occurred, some people feel an obligation to their abuser to keep this information quiet.
Other individuals feel shame and embarrassment after they are abused. They may feel uncomfortable discussing the subject of sexual abuse, or they may feel as though they are somehow not living up to the standards that society has set for them. Even though these victims have nothing to be embarrassed about, they do feel this way.
In yet other scenarios, victims feel guilty. They feel as though they somehow caused the abuse to happen, which is not true. It’s possible that their abusers manipulated them into feeling this way as a strategy from preventing these victims from sharing what happened to them.
Lack of Resources
It’s also possible that some victims feel as though they have a lack of resources. Some individuals imagine that anyone can go to a trusted relative, a guidance counselor at school or an abuse center to report the abuse. However, not everyone knows that these resources exist, and not everyone has access to all of them.
Sexual abuse is a serious problem in society. Encouraging victims to come forward with their stories and reminding them that they are not at fault are two important steps to take.
Herrick Lipton is the CEO of New Horizon Counseling Center in New York and is also an advocate for mental health. For more information about Herrick or to get in touch with New Horizon Counseling Center for resources, please visit nhcc.us or call 718-845-2620.