Friday, 4 April 2008

blog against sexual violence

having criticised various media in previous blogs, it is now time to give credit where credit is due. i've been really impressed with some of the coverage re the asian immigration issue. here are some of my favourites: john campbell's interview last night, which can be found here (although it is a little harsh); this morning report piece and this one as well; this article from stuff; and granny herald manages a well-balanced piece here.

but the top award must go to keith ng on the panel today, who wants us to love the sinner but not the sin [update: keith has since blogged about it here]. have to say i was a little surprised at the approach (hugging mr brown? eww, i'll leave that to you keith), but have decided that it's actually much healthier than the "white supremacist" line taken by keith locke. i think it's a reflection of my psyche having had enough of hatred.

Blog Against Sexual Violence logo

on another note, today is the day to blog against sexual violence, an effort co-ordinated by abyss. i thought i would share an experience i've had over the last month.

a young girl (under 10) has been subject to harassment by a teenager she knows. he has been talking explicitly to her, and has done a couple of things that make her feel very uncomfortable. the poor thing was too afraid to tell her mother so she told her closest friend, of the same age. the friend managed to persuade her to tell another person, only a little older than the other 2.

the third child came to me, distressed from having heard what had happened and absolutely confused as to what she should do about it. and also feeling very guilty, because she had promised the other two that she wouldn't tell.

and herein lies the greatest difficulty with sexual abuse. given that it's so often perpetrated by people well-known to the victim, if the victim speaks out, she knows that she is going to destroy relationships and split families apart. the victim in this case is very well aware of the consequences of making her situation known, of the anger it will cause and the suffering that will be visited on the perpetrator. she doesn't hate him enough to want that ugliness. the other two girls are in the same position. it's an awful situation for all three of them.

i wonder often at how to break the silence, when the effects of telling can be as traumatic as the original event. the fear, shame and confusion feed the silence, meaning that neither victim nor perpetrator get the help they need. how do we create an environment where it is truly safe to tell?

as a mother of daughters, i know with absolute certainty that i can never protect them from abuse. i just can't be with them for 24 hours of every day. there is no way that they can be kept completely safe. the only way i deal with that reality is by trying to make them aware, to ensure that they know how to protect themselves as best they can, and to work on building a strong relationship with them so that they aren't too scared to tell me.

what else can i do?

1 comment:

Marcella Chester said...

Thanks for this post and for participating in the BASV day. I'm so glad that you were a trusted adult who didn't violate that trust.

I believe you are right that we should applaud journalists who do a great job covering this subject as loudly as we disaprove of journalists who further dangerous myths.