Breaking the Silence

Sexual abuse is an issue that effects the whole of society. It happens by the misunderstanding and misuse of boundaries, respect, trust, power and possession. It has been well documented that its motivation lies in so much more than just unbridled passion or sexual release and is more likely through anger and the need to control, dominate and humiliate others.

Sexual abuse is a global phenomena that transcends race, class, age and gender.

"Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser usually someone known to her." (General Assembly. In-Depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women: Report of the Secretary General, 2006. A/61/122/Add.1. 6 July 2006)

"Research suggests that 1 in 6 men have experienced unwanted or abusive sexual experiences before age 16. And this is probably a low estimate, since it doesn't include noncontact experiences, which can also have lasting negative effects." (One in Six, (2013), Educating Myself, [Online], Available:

Unfortunately many women, men and children do not report this crime due to intimidation, fear of recrimination, shame, or the fact they are still in sex slavery or prostitution. When a child is abused at a very young age they do not know what sex is and because of that find it difficult to verbalize their experience.

If you have been sexually abused then dry facts can feel very unhelpful, but the point is they show is that you are not alone. All survivors share feelings of pain, anger, confusion and betrayal. Fortunately there are many organizations around the world who help women and men who have suffered sexual violation. These are often staffed by volunteers as well as paid worker. The world can always use the support, knowledge and experience of women and male survivors who understand the pain associated with abuse. This specialist insider knowledge that adult survivors of abuse have can be a huge force of love and understanding for healing the next generation of vulnerable children and young adults. This knowledge can also help to educate young men and women about the effect of sex crimes. It is important to help men understand the pain of unwanted sexual attention, as it has research shows that this lack of empathy and understanding is a motivational factor for abusers.

People who were abused as children were often forced, intimidated, threatened, or shamed into silence. Many children did find the courage to speak out but were disbelieved or worse believed yet ignored. However, unfortunately remaining silent or in denial about abuse will not help to heal the world from this crime.

If you have been abused in any way, consider that your spiritual gift to the word can be helping others. This can be done by speaking out about sex crimes, from crimes in your own neighborhood, to sex trafficking, to rape as a war crime and internet pedophiles.

Speaking out about gender based violence can help you move forwards from any sense of disempowerment you may feel and give you the satisfaction of helping those vulnerable, younger, women and girls. The more you can express your rage against these crimes personally, the more you will be able to express your power positively in society by taking action and getting your voice heard.

The following websites present opportunities to get involved in speaking out about this crime.


Photograph and text by Jennifer Weston ©