A few months ago I wrote a post about how I had been molested as a child. It’s not something that I talk about regularly, and writing the post didn’t come easily. The great majority of the comments were supportive and understanding. Several, though, were dismissive, condescending and snarky.
As an adult, I have often struggled with what happened to me, and where it puts me on the sexual assault “scale.” In college, I felt almost bad about having issues with what happened to me when so many people had been through situations that were so much more damaging.
Was it fair of me, a young girl who had essentially been groped by a stranger in a single incident, to compare myself, even remotely, to people who had suffered through violent, and sometimes extended, sexual assaults?
It took me a long time to come to terms with my situation – both with what happened to me as an innocent 9-year-old, and with the ensuing questions and uneasiness with how it affected me.
The answer, though, is that child molestation, no matter how “slight,” is never “not a big deal.” Telling a person to get over it, because what happened to them “wasn’t that bad” is a disservice to children everywhere who are being assaulted, and gives perpetrators a pass if their assault is deemed a lesser crime.
My hope is that the people who were harsh in their comments on my earlier post (both on Facebook and in the post directly, many of which have been removed) were directing those comments to the 30-something woman who wrote the piece, and not at the 9-year-old girl who was touched inappropriately by a stranger. Would anyone tell a young child that the molestation they had experienced wasn’t a big deal? That they were overreacting and should get over it? That there’s any excuse for a person to touch a child inappropriately? I certainly hope not (although I fear otherwise).
In today’s digital age, everything we put on the internet is fair game. A child looking for some answers and reassurance could very easily come across my previous post and, while the majority of the comments would be comforting, the few that are unsupportive could be damaging to an emotionally fragile child. Every child who has been molested needs to be supported and their feelings should be validated, not belittled. The bottom line is that child molestation is not okay, ever. It is despicable, deplorable, disgusting and wrong. It is a crime. It is a big deal, regardless of the circumstances.
Photo Credit: Fields of View via Flickr
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