By Fidel Elizchrist Ujunwa
Sexual abuse is any form of forced or unwanted sexual activity. The perpetrator of sexual abuse may use physical force, make a treat, or take advantage of a person unable to give consent.
Sexual abuse occurs mainly between people who know each other and can occur in the context of domestic violence. Sexual abuse has an impact on a person’s physical and emotional health. It can lead to long term mental health issues like depression, frustration, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder.
Currently, in Nigeria, sexual abuse is alarming now since the pandemic started especially fathers sleeping with their daughters or stepdaughter, neighbors sleeping with their neighbors’ children e.t.c.
Child Sexual Abuse is a form of sexual abuse that involves sexual activity done by a perpetrator/abuser with a minor. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity. Child sexual abuse is a result of abusive behavior that takes advantage of a child’s vulnerability and is in no way related to the sexual orientation of the abusive person.
An abuser can manipulate victims to stay quiet about sexual abuse using different tactics like;
- Telling the child that the activity is normal.
-Threatening the child to kill them if they let other people know.
- Making a treat and promising the child worldly pleasure.
The warning signs and physical signs of child abuse;
-Bleeding, bruises, or swelling at the genital area.
-Bloody form of stained underclothes
-Difficulty in walking or sitting
-Frequent urinary or yeast infections
-Pain, itching, or burning in the genital area.
Behavioral signs of child abuse;
- Change in hygiene e.g Bathing excessively.
-Develops phobia ( Irrational fear)
-Expresses suicidal thoughts, especially in adolescents
-Has trouble in school, such as poor grades
-Nightmares or bed-wetting
-Becoming withdrawn and do not associate with people.
- Overly anxious and distressed.
How one can protect a child from sexual abuse;
-Talk to the child if you suspect sexual abuse.
-Giving child sex education.
-Protecting the child from male uncles and neighbors that might abuse the child sexually.
-Teach the child not to allow anyone to touch her genital organ.
-By wearing the child underwears and cloth that covers the child appropriately.
- Showing love, care and attention to the children at all times.
Causes of an increase in child abuse in recent days;
- Idleness: Many have been relieved of their duties due to COVID 19, thereby being idle, leading to an increase in rape and child abuse.
- Lack of self-control: Some cannot control themselves and being that they are at home they have nothing to channel their time to, and they cannot control themselves when the emotions come, they tend to channel it to children.
- Financial Crises: Some men may not have money to give to sex workers to ease off themselves, when they are horny, or to give some ladies for sex, thereby molesting little children.
- Indecent Dressing: Some mothers or guardians wear their kids’ indecent clothes that reveal their bodies.
- Infatuation: Some men or even women have these infatuations that they are in love with the kids, thereby trying to explore by sleeping with the kids.
Child sexual abuse is a very secret crime, and unless the victim is bold to tell someone about it, it can be hidden for a lifetime. Most children are often scared to tell anyone about the abuse, many cases of abuse are not reported because most of the abusees are people that their victim (the child in particular trust)
From some of the research carried out, it is known that some child abusers were abused as children. Some abusers have mental problems and see themselves as kids too, thereby having a strong desire for sexual things with kids. This mental condition is called “Pedophilia”, a person suffering from that is a Pedophile.
Abusers are usually men who abuse kids they know. It makes it even sadder because the kid usually has much respect for them. Most of the abused kids are the most vulnerable children with learning disabilities.
Many of the children involved do not tell anyone because:
-They believe the situation will become very serious when their parents find out especially if the abuser is known to the family.
-They don’t want their friends to know for fear of being avoided or mocked at.
-They believe the abuser will kill or hurt them especially in a situation where they are threatened.
-They think nobody will believe them.
The rate of child sexual abuse is alarming now, there are a lot of situations where even fathers rape their own daughter. Too bad!
There was a scenario in which an uncle raped his niece, and he warned her not to tell anyone, otherwise, he will get her killed. The 12years old girl kept mute, she went dumb for a month, the parents involved a man of God, it was during the counseling and prayers, that the man of God finds out.
Parents especially mothers should be very careful with who they leave the child with, mostly the girl child even if it’s a close relation. Also, they shouldn’t leave their child alone. If situation should permit them having a maid, care givers and baby sitters in the home, they should supervise those people and monitor the activities they do with the kids.
Parents should be observant too especially when bathing them, they should tell the kids not to allow anyone to touch their sex organs, and it should be reported if anyone tries to do it. They should emphasize on the need for the children to say ‘no’ when they don’t seem comfortable about something and leave the scene immediately. Parents should encourage the children to always seek help either from them or from a trusted adult when they are confused about something.
Parents should take care of their children and should be available to them. The kids should be treated like prince and princesses and they should be listened to when they have a complaint. They should show love and give utmost attention to this children at all times.
Parents should try as much as possible to make gadgets available in the house like television that will not make the kids go to a neighbor’s place to see movies that may cause abuse in some cases Also, parents should monitor the type of movies that the children watch so as not to make the kids entertain indecent thoughts and actions.
Where to get help when a child is abused;
- Take the child to the hospital immediately for proper checkup.
- Try to encourage the child that nothing can be done to him/her and that you are there for them.
- Visit Women’s affairs and Human rights for justice to prevail.