Abuse

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I wasn’t planning on doing this April A to Z thing – but here I am, literally at the eleventh hour (it’s just 2300h here in Ireland), but I have a thing about synchronicity and when two of my friends on Twitter tweeted in quick succession about having taken up the mantle, I thought about it.

Then, I dismissed the notion. I’m busy. (Everyone’s busy – that’s no excuse and I know it).  A few hours later, however, I realised that April is Sexual Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month. I thought I might like to blog about that. Then, my friend Barbara Bos suggested the challenge on a page for writers that she manages. About two seconds after I posted a reply saying, basically ‘Great idea, I’ll think about it’, the two thoughts collided in my brain and I realised that this blog challenge is a great platform with which to raise awareness of sexual abuse. After all, it is a key theme in my book and much of my academic research.

So, here I am. Committing to twenty six posts this month, on this blog, on the subject of sexual abuse and working my way through the English alphabet as I do so. Wish me luck!

Sexual abuse can happen to anyone – male or female, young or old, able-bodied or otherwise. Likewise, sexual assault can be perpetrated by anyone; male or female (though in over 90% of cases, the perpetrator is male), young or old, able-bodied or otherwise, stranger, friend or family member. Any sexual act which takes place without consent is assault. It is never the fault of the victim and a person who is asleep, drunk, drugged or too terrified to speak cannot give consent, so any act perpetrated on their person is assault.

Rape, assault and abuse are in and of themselves acts of violence. Though the criminal may use other types of physical violence, it is not at all unusual for them to ‘just’ use threats and coercion. Indeed, when a person is the victim of repeated assaults from the same person, and has been groomed by them, additional violence is rarely needed to subdue the victim.

Abuse has a profound, long-term and detrimental effect on the victim.  It takes so much from the person who is abused: Those of us who survive are aware that something precious – something that can never be given back – has been taken from us.

If you have been a victim of rape, sexual assault or sexual abuse, or if you are supporting someone who has, please contact your nearest rape crisis centre. If you are feeling anxious, depressed or suicidal as a result of sexual trauma, please contact your nearest rape crisis centre or your nearest branch of the Samaritans. 

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Hazel Katherine Larkin

@HazelKLarkin

6 thoughts on “Abuse”

  1. Good luck with the challenge. Abuse is an important topic that needs to be discussed in forums like this. I wrote about sexual abuse as part of my discussion about my novel How To Climb The Eiffel Tower during last year’s challenge. Sexual abuse can color a woman’s life or decades afterwards.

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    1. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Elizabeth. I will need all the support I can get – it’s going to be a busy month. 🙂

      I am sorry to hear that you, too, were abused. I have to agree with you, though, that so much of our lives after abuse are tainted, damaged and compromised; and that’s if we make it out alive. So many people die by suicide, overdoses (intentional or otherwise), or end up on psych meds (or, indeed, in psychiatric institutions) after being through what we’ve been through. That’s why I dedicated my book ‘Gullible Travels’ to everyone, everywhere, who survived sexual abuse – and to those of us who didn’t.

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  2. “It is never the fault of the victim and a person who is asleep, drunk, drugged or too terrified to speak cannot give consent, so any act perpetrated on their person is assault.” I wish there was a way to beat this into anyone who is tempted to utter the phrase “dressed for rape.” Ugh. Good luck with the challenge.

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    1. Hi Kathryn! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      Like you, I wish there was a way to beat this into people who victim blame. Blaming the victim is easy because it removes the focus from the perpetrator and their ‘enablers’. By ‘enablers’ I mean those people who condone, explicitly or implicitly, the actions of the perpetrator – their family members, friends etc. who support the rapist against their victim. Victim blaming allows those doing the blaming to feel better about themselves, and not examine their own behaviour. I know it’s an uphill battle, but it (laying the blame where it belongs – at the feet of the rapist) is one worth fighting.

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