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Category: Blog – January 2018

10 Reasons Why Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse Don’t Speak Out!

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I recently read an article in the Irish Mail on Sunday about Joe Devine, who told his wife about his childhood experience of sexual abuse 35 years after it had occurred. He spoke about how he was sexually abused while attending St Augustine’s special needs school and how he feared that his now wife, would not have agreed to marry him if he spoke out earlier.

It’s unfortunate that Joe is not alone in his silence.  Although more and more cases of childhood sexual abuse are being reported daily, childhood sexual abuse still remains the most under reported crime across the globe with many victims bringing their experience of sexual abuse with them to the grave.

Who Are the Abusers?

According to Darkness to Light ( about 90% of children who experience childhood sexual abuse know their abuser and of those molesting a child under six, 50% were family members. Family members also accounted for 23% of those abusing children ages 12 to 17.  It is these very relationships that adds to the difficulty for victims to speak out.

It is also widely recognised that children who are being abused often love and trust the person that is abusing them. The abused child will have undergone a grooming process leaving them confused about exactly what is happening and who is to blame.

The Lasting Impacts of Grooming.

In our book ‘Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse we talk extensively about the process of grooming.  We firmly believe that if you are not aware of how grooming happens, you will never be in a position to keep your child safe.

Grooming occurs in stages and most often happens slowly allowing the abuser to build trust with everyone involved in the child’s life.  The most damaging stage of grooming a child, occurs when the abuser gets the child to touch his/her genitals.  The act of touching the abuser’s genitals changes everything for the child.  It can leave the child believing that not only have they participated in the act, but they may even feel they were responsible for instigating what happened. This leaves the child confused as to whether or not what is happening, is abuse. The process of ‘grooming’ will now shape the thoughts and future behaviors of that child.

10 Reasons Not To Tell!

  1. The victim may not understand that what is happening is abuse.

Because grooming occurs over a period of time and the abuse can build slowly.  A child can often feel that what is happening is normal.  They don’t like it, but they don’t feel they have a choice and so feel they have to do what they are told. As they become adults and depending on what they used to cope with the abuse, they most often can push the memories to the back of their minds and convince themselves it is over now, so forget it.

  1. Fear of the abuser.

It is often the case that the abuser threatens the child or another family member. They may threaten the child that they will get hurt or be removed from their home if they speak out or that no one will believe them. This belief and the fear of the abuser carries into adulthood unless it is interrupted or challenged.

  1. Fear of not being believed and worrying about what people would think of them.

Through the process of demeaning the child, constant taunting and name calling, along with the child feeling dirty and ashamed for the abuse, victims can really struggle to believe they are innocent. Developing a number of social anxieties due to the long-term impacts of trauma, can also make telling someone next to impossible.

  1. Feelings of confusion, guilt, shame and responsibility.

Again because of the grooming process the child often takes on the responsibility for the abuse. Developing strong beliefs around personal involvement/collusion or engagement in the act of abuse itself. This will most likely lead to the adult survivor feeling that telling someone would be more like a confession than the reporting of a crime and so they remain silent.

  1. Feelings for the abuser.

As most abuse is carried out by someone the child knows, trusts, and in a lot of cases is dependent upon, they will be very reluctant to speak out.  All children love their parents regardless of how they act. In abuse cases it is often misguided loyalty that can prevent the victim from speaking out. Fear of tearing the family apart or of the family member being physically hurt or sent to prison, are all contributing factors that can prevent even the strongest child/adult from speaking out.

  1. Trust Issues.

One of the most damaging impacts of childhood sexual abuse is the struggle victims have in placing their trust in anyone. When the abuser is someone that you were supposed to trust, being abused by that person leaves a lot of confusion and a constant struggle not only to trust others, but what is more damaging can be the inability to trust themselves. This is an area that requires a lot of work to rebuild but can be done, gently and over time.

  1. Fear of the consequences.

The fear of who will be impacted by disclosure is usually the biggest concern for victims of childhood sexual abuse. The awareness that the non-abusing parents, siblings, friends etc will all suffer when the abuse is disclosed can prevent victims from ever coming out and telling their story. It is not uncommon for victims to hold their truth until a parent dies so as to lessen the pain they feel they will be inflicting on those they love. The saddest thing is that by the victim remaining silent, they take on the responsibility for something they had nothing to do with.

  1. Not having the language to explain what is happening.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse very often lack the capacity to express, understand or build normal ways of expressing their emotions. This can leave victims fearful that even if they decided to tell someone about their abuse, they wouldn’t know how to explain it or even may struggle with gathering full memories. This is due to the manner in which trauma affects the brains development and how memories of abuse are stored in fragments. Understanding that this is perfectly normal and is as a direct result of the abuse will help victims overcome these difficulties and be better able to express their feelings appropriately.

  1. Believing the abuse is temporary and will stop soon.

Often victims of abuse convince themselves that what is happening is temporary even if it carries on for many years. Their need to believe that what is happening will be over soon is a coping mechanism that they have developed to survive the immediate abuse. This is why educating your children around the impacts of abuse if vital.

  1. The victim may believe they are being punished for being bad. They may also believe it will stop if they are good.

Victims often believe that there is something inherently wrong with them and that they are the reason for the abuse. They may act out, struggle to control their anger and rage which is a direct result of the abuse they are or have suffered. They can take on the negative image of themselves. They believe their abusers when told that they are bad and need to be punished. Also, if like me, you grew up in the shadow of the catholic church, you may have convinced yourself that because God himself didn’t save you,  you deserve what you got.

Moving Forward

As an adult it doesn’t become any easier to speak out. Years of pain, buried memories, anger, and mistrust can make the process of speaking out extremely fearful and painful.  I feel it is also important to mention that to tell someone about your abuse does not, and should not, require you to speak publicly about your abuser. Telling someone about your abuse is about YOU and how best to heal from the abuse you suffered.  Breaking the silence may help you gain an understanding of how your life has been impacted and influenced by the abuse you suffered and leave you free to learn a new way forward that is guilt, shame and pain free.

Paula- 28th January 2018

How Childhood Sexual Abuse Impacted Me – A Personal Account


I am very passionate about passing on any form of learning I believe could help people but sometimes I feel words are inadequate and can leave you wanting when you try to explain or describe an experience.  One example of when I found this to be true is when I was asked, what are the impacts of sexual abuse? Because I fear words will fail me, when preparing to answer that question, it requires a conscious effort to remain focused in order to do justice to the reply.

Searching for the Right Answers

The first thing I would say is that you cannot answer that question easily.  In my mind the answer is enormous, as I believe to survive my own experience of childhood sexual abuse I had to become/create an entire new me.  There isn’t a part of me that escaped being altered as a direct response to my abuse. I realise that is far too simplistic a response and doesn’t help someone who hasn’t experienced Childhood Sexual Abuse gain any understanding, so I will do my best to tease that out somewhat.


In an attempt to recover from my own experience of childhood sexual abuse I have spent many years unravelling and identifying the multitude of ways I was impacted. One thing I know for sure is that I couldn’t have moved forward with my life if I hadn’t gone back to revisit the source of all my pain and find some way to understand and forgive all involved.  Again, I am aware that sounds like a simple enough statement but believe me it was a long and painful journey that at times felt, was too high a price to pay, but it absolutely wasn’t.

Dark Thoughts

I can look back now on my life and say that before I started therapy I was an absolute mess,  physically, mentally and emotionally and I cannot imagine where or how I would be today if I had not chosen the ‘red pill’ so to speak.  I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t suffering inside, regardless of what I portrayed to the rest of the world.   My negative self talk ultimately became the bedrock from which I created the lie I lived and believed to be me.  Thoughts like, I deserved the abuse, God hates me, everyone hates me, I’m stupid, I have no value, I have the blackest soul, I’m the most disgusting and horrible creature on the planet, no one cares about me, why will no one save me? Consumed my every waking moments. I can now see that my experiences were generating and supporting these thoughts and that I had no choice but to come to these conclusions.


As I describe these feelings I can see that they are insufficient at portraying the depth of self hatred I felt whenever I dared to stop and think about it, which was too often.

I felt that inside of me was a blackness that I understood to be bad or evil.  This blackness took up a position in my body just below my heart and was oval in shape and ended around my navel.  I could literally feel this blackness when I inhaled.  There was pain attached to it when I focussed on it and so I did my best not to think about it.  I knew it was still there after attending years of therapy and I believed that no one was able to reach it or help me rid myself of it.  I didn’t know how it got there and so I didn’t know how to get rid of it, all I knew was that whenever I focussed and took a deep breath I could feel it and so I still believed I was bad or evil and no one could help me.

Awareness and Understanding

My understanding of it now is that my early experience of sexual abuse hurt me so deeply and there was no nurturing to interrupt all of the negative feelings accompanying the abuse.  I developed a powerfully negative self image.  Although I was exposed to a plethora of emotions I had no understanding of them which caused confusion.

The premature introduction of unwanted painful intercourse left me with huge feelings of shame and guilt in relation to my physical body and its natural functions.  When the abuse began I didn’t understand what was happening. I hadn’t yet the language or maturity to articulate what and how I was feeling, so I held all my pain in my body. I don’t know how or why but I could feel it around my diaphragm which I managed with my breath.

Over time the negative self talk and self hatred grew until I actually believed I could feel the exact shape and location of my badness.  What started as poor self image and negative self talk over time grew into this blackness I believed represented my badness.

I now understand these thoughts began with being sexually abused. Over time the pain and suffering was added to on a daily basis through an accumulation of millions of tiny perceived hurts, an angry word with someone, a slagging from a family member, feeling embarrassed, to name but a few……..   Years of daily additions to my blackness resulted in a deeply held belief in my lack of worth.

Finding My Truth

Now I know that my true self never went anywhere, I just buried it under so much negativity.  I think I always knew deep down I was good and after many years in therapy, reading books, watching programmes and writing our books I cannot even remember the day, but I do remember talking about my badness to my sister and taking a deep breath to check in with the familiar black feeling I usually located when I focused but this day I could no longer feel it.

It would seem that unknowingly, I was in fact for years, chipping away at my negativity. Slowly re-learning that I am a good person and I do have worth.  I now realise that every effort to improve yourself pays off eventually even if you don’t feel it.

Knowledge is Power

The good news is there is endless research on the impacts of abuse which we have written extensively about in our book Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse’ and the natural response to trauma.  This information will go a long way to reassuring you that you are not alone.   The research shows that no matter how you responded to the abuse, it was and is, a perfectly normal human response to being subjected to abuse.

It would seem that as humans we are hardwired to make life difficult for ourselves.  Your abuser starts by damaging you, but your own human nature can mean that you do far more damage to yourself long after the abuse is over than your abuser could ever do.   This by no means makes abusers any less guilty for the pain and suffering they have caused, but it is interesting to note that one of our biggest obstacle to healing can be our lack of ability to forgive ourselves.

The information we came across when writing Why Go back? would certainly have saved us years of needless suffering and our hope is that this book does the same for other victims.

June- 22nd January 2018

To Catch a Paedophile

I have watched many videos posted on Facebook where a trap is set for a sexual predator.  I am really torn as to how I feel about this and wonder if others feel the same.  Although as a victim of abuse for most of my childhood, I have more reasons than most to want these people caught and stopped in their tracks. I still feel uncomfortable with the way it is being done.

I do not doubt the intentions of the group setting the traps.  They are going above and beyond to protect children, but their methods are something I still struggle with.

What does it say about our justice system when ordinary parents can pin these predators down with a bit of effort and very little resources and, yet the Gardaí are unable to do the same.

As far as I am concerned it highlights the complete lack of will of the government to give sexual crimes the attention they deserve and tackle this issue which is widespread.

Appropriate Platform

I do agree that these incidents should be logged, videoed and handed over to police. I do not however, feel social media is an appropriate forum for this material.  To me it screams vigilantism and incites violence, it also doesn’t consider the impact this action has on the predator’s innocent family members.

In one of these videos the trapped predator was a 19-year-old boy and to be honest this broke my heart.  Although I don’t condone his behaviour, surely there must be a better way to deal with this.  The boy looked really troubled which although I know would go hand in hand with being caught, I read it deeper.  He looked genuinely confused.

Being caught on social media is not an intervention it is a trap. If young predators are not treated correctly a lot more victims will appear before us in the future. Teenagers are already at a difficult stage in their development, if you add to that, confusion over their sexual identity they are most likely already psychologically on overload.   Because the entrapment being posted on social media this child has had all his prospects for any kind of future removed. He will be ridiculed possibly beaten or worse still, killed.  What are we creating? What is the benefit to society of destroying a child instead of reaching out and offering him some help.  It may very well be that we are creating bigger problems which will impact our society well into the future.

Young Offenders

The reality is that for several years there has been a spurt in the amount of young people responsible for sexual abuse.  This is frightening and what does it tell us about our systems of response to sexual abuse in this country.

Could it be that these young people are victims acting out? Or could they be continuing learned behaviour?  It is not right that we just wipe our hands of them? I know if it was my son I would go to the end of the earth to help him understand and change his behaviour.  Ignoring this issue will ensure that we will have to continue to deal with sexual abuse for generations. It is a fact that many adult perpetrators began sexually abusing when they were under the age of 18.  If we could have reached them then, god knows how much pain we could have stopped.

Young people who have never shared their pain are at risk of becoming lifelong predators. Can you remember those teenage years in your own life, the utter confusion that enshrouds you? Now imagine if you also had a sexual interest in younger children how would you express that and to who. It is very understandably a huge obstacle to reaching out to someone for help.

Shame is the most debilitating emotion for anyone never mind a child. The attitude of most people when it comes to perpetrators is to murder, castrate or severely punish them. Where would you turn for help as an adult never mind a child.


What is wrong with this country that our own justice system cannot address this issue appropriately and consistently. It is no wonder people are pushed to take the law into their own hands. While I totally understand the frustration, people have with the law. In these cases where these groups set a trap and then advertise where the person lives, works or socialises. No matter how justified we may feel about taking that action it just doesn’t sit right with me. I imagine if the case ever did make it to trial the perpetrator would get off on the grounds that he has already been tried and convicted on social media. Add to that the fact there are no child victims as decoys are used, nothing will have resulted other than the possibility of destroying innocent family members and the possible harm or death of the perpetrator.

Finding Another Way

When my father was sent to prison for the abuse of his daughters we were all delighted.  However, if we were in a country that decided he deserved the death penalty none of us would have been happy with that.  At the time we felt death would be too easy for him and as death would have meant his suffering ends.  In our eyes living would be a lot more painful for him.

There must be a better way to deal with this problem.  I have no idea what that is, but I feel this action is only further endangering families, parents, past victims and survivors of abuse, and may drive someone to do something life changing.

One suggestion could be to set up a designated task force for sex crimes alone.   The task force should be awarded extra powers to ensure when known predators are caught they immediately are removed from society and placed in a treatment facility or incarcerated so no more children are in danger while they await a court hearing and or sentencing.

It would be more productive to stand together and fight for the rights of our children and demand the government takes this crime seriously with immediate action.

Unfortunately, people tend not to get involved or act until abuse affects their own lives, it pains me that they don’t realise how much it does affect everyone. We strongly believe angry outbursts, addiction and anti-social behaviour are just some of the ways abuse manifests in our society.  For some victims it’s their only tool to express their pain. The ripple effect caused by abuse ultimately contributes directly or indirectly to how our communities function.

Sexual abuse can be hard to think about and harder to discuss, but it’s important to address these issues and educate yourself so you can teach your child what to watch out for. Every discussion on the subject of sexual abuse along with every time you listen – you are protecting your child from sexual abuse.  We  have to find a way to discuss the subject openly if we ever want to eliminate it from our lives.


Joyce- 15th January 2017

Hidden Victims of Childhood Sexual Abuse

As much as I hate labels, in our case being labelled as victims of sexual abuse gave us direction when we first went looking for support.  However, I know that even now, the level of support available for victims of sexual abuse in Ireland, and around the world, is inadequate and receives insufficient funding.  There is a lack of will from governments to improve the support survivors can assess and this needs to change.

Survivors Helping Survivors

In the absence of adequate support for victims of sexual abuse, survivors are taking control and providing support for each other.  Shaneda Daly, a fellow survivor of sexual abuse has taking matters into her own hands and set up a support page on Facebook for survivors of abuse.

In addition to this, Shaneda is looking to fill the gap by setting up support groups around the country that will be run by survivors for survivors.  While this is very commendable it is also sad that survivors must resort to this due to lack of available resources.  It may well be the only way to reach the multitude of survivors.

Hidden Victims 

In our new book ‘Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse’ we want to make survivors, and those who support them aware of the ways abuse effects every aspect of their lives. In addition to this, we think it’s important to highlight the impact that abuse has on those who have not been directly abused, who we call secondary victims.  I know that for every victim of abuse, there are family members, partners and friends who share their pain.

When someone you love tells you that they have been abused it can be overwhelming. Often those we tell aren’t equipped to know what to do or say.  If you are lucky enough not to have experienced sexual abuse first hand, knowing someone close to you who has been abused can leave you feeling anxious, depressed, and powerless.

We have had many reach out to us asking how they can support someone who has disclosed their abuse.  These supporters rarely feel that they too may need help.  Abuse affects not only the life of the victim but also those close to them. Finding out that a son, daughter, sister, brother, mother, father, or friend has been abused can change their life forever. They need to learn how to deal with their own feelings in order to be able to effectively support the victim.

A Brothers Pain

I am part of a large family and even today I watch my siblings struggling.  When the silence about the abuse my sisters and I experienced was finally broken, our siblings were not seen as victims. Yet the fact that they also grew up in our family home meant that they too were groomed. Like us, they also lived by the unwritten rules that came hand in hand with abuse.  The negative feelings and thoughts they learnt to push down are similar to how we felt, but they were not awarded the same level of empathy we were or directed to get help.

I see my brothers struggle to get through life.  I know they feel they let us down by not protecting us and they are ashamed that they didn’t stand up to my father when they were children.  It challenges their sense of manhood in ways we don’t fully understand. They do not give any credence to the fact they were children when all this was happening.

Unfortunately, they don’t have the skills to separate how they felt then from how they feel now. This is taking its toll on each one of them.   They continue with their inner struggle of self- judgement, guilt, and shame. As men they worry that they too may be judged as having the same sexual tendencies as our father.

The fear they carry, without any justification, remains with them always. They are not equipped to face the fear but instead they continue to beat themselves up over an issue that was not theirs but our fathers.

A Sisters Struggle

My older sister was not as fortunate as us when it came to getting help and support. This was mainly because she left the family home when she was 18.  Also abused by our father, she escaped to lived abroad and has done ever since.  She continues to carry guilt for not being able to protect us, her younger sisters and constantly questions if things could have been different if she had of spoken out and reported our dad years ago.

Prior to the court case she returned home to make a statement, but my father accused her of ‘jumping on the band wagon.’ While he admitted to sexually abusing each of us, he continued to refuse that he had also abused her. With no one able to collaborate her story the Garda suggested she not pursue any additional charges.

She was informed that the legal outcome for our father would be the same regardless of whether she was part of the process or not.  Although my father did get sent to prison, I often wonder how she feels deep down.  She never got to tell her story and I wonder if this still hurts her.

A Mothers Innocence

I am aware that not all victims of abuse are fortunate enough to have their family stand by them when they disclose abuse. While we cannot ignore the fact that some mothers are responsible for abusing their children this is not my personal experience, and so best to leave that for another conversion. It’s best that I discuss what I know.

In the case of my own mother, I watched her persecuted both internally and externally when our abuse was made public.  Her perception of how neighbours and friends thought of her ensured she became a recluse. She felt so guilty for not protecting us. She believed the view of the outside world was that it isn’t possible to have abuse in a house without the mother knowing.  This presumption is born out of ignorance.  I believe that unless you have grown up in an abusive family you cannot understand the complexities that go hand in hand with abuse.

Supporting Mothers

We are so grateful to the brave mothers who shared their stories in ‘Why go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse.’ Their experiences will break your heart. They tell of the isolation and pain they felt as secondary victims of abuse. Each of them know that with a little support their life could be a little easier.

That really made me think. It’s clearly not recognised that although not directly abused themselves, their worlds have been turned upside down by abuse. They too are victims.  They are not responsible for what happened to their children. They shouldn’t be isolated, they need support.

Support Systems

The lack of family support systems is clear. Families and secondary victims need to receive help and be able to access appropriate information to build their understanding of the impacts the abuse has had on each member of the family.

Adequate support will allow secondary victims to identify their own feelings and work through the pain and confusion.  With the support of a professional the whole family could help each other heal.

Until that happens I urge you to be mindful when you hear of cases of abuse and instead of jumping to judgements be aware that there are secondary victims too.

Joyce-9th January 2018

Paedophiles – Monsters or Humans?


Paedophilia is a psychiatric disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a primary or exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children. It is also important that we understand that there are a certain percentage of paedophiles in the world today that have never acted on their sexual urges toward children and never intend to.

 Evoking Reactions.

What do you think of when you hear the word “paedophile”? Do you think of a person?

I don’t. I don’t even think of a human being when I hear that word. The media’s portrayal of paedophiles as monsters generates and supports fear. This portrayal can prevent us from seeing them as actual human beings. We have labelled them, categorised them and no longer think of them as human.  All we see is an unforgivable and heinous sexual act against an innocent child from a creature we feel doesn’t deserve to live.

We have identified the problem. We acknowledge it exists but we want to distance ourselves from having to deal with the issue any further. It is too upsetting for us. We have done exactly the same thing with people who use drugs, de-humanised them, label them as “scum” and again for our own protection we distance ourselves. It is a fear based reaction, cultivated by media and taken on as fact by the general populous.  I am guilty of buying in to this thinking myself but I also recognise it serves no one.

 General Consensus

There are not many issues that are easy to get a consensus on.  Paedophiles however, evoke such deep feelings of anger, rage, hatred and intense disgust the world over.  We don’t feel we should question or challenge anyone for voicing such feelings.  The reason being, we all feel the acting out of their sexual urges with children is unforgiveable so when we hear of vengeance being exacted against a paedophile, most of us would find it difficult to judge the taking of revenge.

In contrast to all of that, we must consider that victims usually know their abuser and are often related to them. Part of the difficulty in dealing with this crime is that now we have to marry this “monster” that is portrayed culturally with this “person” we may or may not have felt love for at one time.

It’s definitely a head wrecker but demonstrates that paedophiles are indeed someone’s Son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or neighbour etc………… human beings.

 Let me tell you a story.

Below is an excerpt from Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse.’ The purpose of sharing this excerpt is simply to encourage an open mind, an open heart and open dialogue around the very emotive issue of Paedophilia.


Imagine someone knocking at your door and informing you that your daughter or son has been raped.  

Your heart is broken as you listen to the details of what they went through, and who it was that raped him/her.  Imagine the range of emotions you are experiencing.  How do you feel about the abuser? What would you like to see happen to them? How do you feel they should be treated? Would you like to see them physically harmed in any way?

 Now imagine someone knocking on your door and informing you that your son or daughter has abused a child.

Your heart is broken as you listen to the details of what they put the child through. Imagine the range of emotions you are experiencing except wouldn’t you now want to know why? Why did my child behave in such a way? What is going on for my child? How can I help my child?”

 (end excerpt)

 Without considering anyone in particular…can you imagine the life you would have if you were a paedophile?  I cannot imagine how I would feel to find out that one of my children had been raped.  Having gone through it myself and knowing the pain and suffering ahead of them it would break my heart. But I would far rather hear they were raped than hear that they had raped someone.

 Not Going Anywhere.

Unfortunately, this is one problem that is not going away on its own.  Even the awareness of how one is viewed and treated if it is known that you are a pedophile doesn’t deter sexual predators. This should inform any right-minded person that this issue requires a higher level of education and understanding from us.  No one would risk being vilified and gaining the label of sex offender if it was simply a matter of choice.

On Friday 29th of December 2017, The Guardian Newspaper reported that there are an “Estimated 20,000 British men interested in sexually abusing children. Within the article they quoted Police Chief Simon Bailey who said that “even thousands more detectives would not be enough to bring every offender to justice”. 

Another probably more alarming aspect of abuse gaining momentum is the fact that women are also sexual predators.  This is something that is even harder for us to comprehend but again quoting The Guardian Newspaper when covering the story of a nursery school worker Vanessa George who pled guilty to sexually abusing young children they reported alarming figures on women found to be sex offenders. In the article as far back as 4th October 2009, they reported that Up to 64,000 women in UK ‘are child-sex offenders’.


Finding Balance

Although I am very happy with victims finding their voice and having the courage to tell their story.  It is very important to recognise that every case is different with a unique back story which needs to be considered on an individual basis.  I absolutely hold the view Matt Damon expressed during an interview with ABC News where he stated “There’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation, right. “Both of those behaviours need to be confronted and eradicated without question, but they shouldn’t be conflated, right?”  Matt Damon received a lot of criticism for what he said because it was taken out of content.

I personally witnessed an entire family lives being destroyed because of one family members actions that were wrong and harmful to a child. In this case the person was young and sexually curious.  He inappropriately touched someone a lot younger than himself and yes, his actions were wrong and yes, he should have to suffer the consequences of his actions.  But I do not believe he should receive the same punishment as an adult sex offender or serial rapist. He cannot be seen in the same light as someone like my father for example.

 Dangerous Labelling

Fear and lack of understanding ensures that someone like the young man above is automatically labelled as a sexual predator.  The impact on the physical, mental and emotional health of the entire family when his actions came to light is still ongoing.  When friends and family heard about his actions they distanced themselves from the entire family ostracising them and sending the message that they should all feel shame for what had occurred.

Everything is a process and to be horrified and filled with anger and rage because of the actions of a paedophile is a perfectly normal first response. I want to be clear that I am not for one second suggesting that these thoughts are in any way wrong or that you should deny them. I am suggesting that until we can manage to get past this stage of response we can never hope to create change.

 Changing the Outcomes

It took me forever to arrive at my current belief that in order for real change to occur in this world we need to change how we currently view sexual predators and paedophiles. We need to be willing to provide help for sexual offenders.  We need to recognise that they have a problem/sickness/addiction/compulsion? and find our own humanity and offer a helping hand.  No one else is going to do it for us we each have a role to play.

If my sisters and I can arrive at this place after a lifetime of suffering the impacts of being victims of this crime, then I believe we all can do it.  I thank god, I am no longer carrying all that hatred and anger that was only hurting me.

Thank God, more and more people are speaking out about their abuse which greatly decreases the chances of people going to the grave holding on to all of the guilt and shame that was never theirs.  We have a unique opportunity for healing to occur on a global scale if we but have the will.

I am still afraid of paedophiles and the harm they can do. I still don’t understand how anyone could harm a child let alone sexually. I have managed to forgive my own Father but that doesn’t mean I would welcome him with open arms into my life.  I forgave for me not for him. I can now see how desperately we all need to find a way to do the same.  From forgiveness the next obvious step is to help find a way to eradicate this scourge from all our lives.

People fear what they do not understand but the good news is change is happening.  Part of the reason we are so excited about our new book Why Go Back? 7 Steps to Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse.’ is our belief that the knowledge that is held within the pages provided such comfort for us and we regretted not finding it sooner.  We are completely confident that it would have saved us years of self-hatred.  We believe it will do the same for our readers.

 *Within this blog, when I mention paedophiles I am talking about any sexual predators who has sexually abused children.

June – 3rd January 2018

What Messages Are We Sending Our Children?

We would like to respond to yesterday’s sentencing of a 30 year- old man who received two life sentences for repeatedly sexually abusing and raping two young children from Athlone.  We wish to extend our deepest sympathy to the families who must be in turmoil and hope they receive all the support they need to move on with their lives as we understand this is both a confusing and painful time.

Is there a negative impact to anonymity?

It was very interesting to hear that there was no consideration given to the perpetrator for his cooperation and guilty plea, and rightly so. However, shouldn’t this same thinking be afforded to perpetrators of adult survivors that come before the courts, as the reality is, their victims were also child victims?

When people in media find it too disturbing to not only talk but to think about this crime, what chance have we got to ever highlight and eradicate child sexual abuse?   We are aware of the discomfort around this subject, but would like to challenge media to recognise that as uncomfortable as it is, this attitude does not support victims.  It is the responsibility of media to educate themselves on the subject of abuse in order to do the victims justice.

Although it is absolutely understandable that the court asked for reporting restrictions due to the families concern that their children will be identified, we need to note that this sends a very strong message that this crime must continue to be shrouded in secrecy.  It also highlights that this belief is held, not only by the few but by society at large.

Again although we can understand the victims need to move on with their lives, it is quite concerning to know, we are sending mixed messages to our children. On one hand, we are asking them to tell somebody, and at the same time, we are being asked to keep it private.  This only succeeds in keeping the crime underground. Consider if this was any other crime against children would the same rules apply?

The fact the children spoke up, were believed and their claims acted on, is a very good sign that we as a nation are doing something right.  However, the call for anonymity around this crime, maybe saying something completely different. As survivors of this crime, our concerns are that in an effort to protect the victims from the media, requesting anonymity sends a clear message to all victims that this crime is shameful.  Secrecy and silence are at the root of this crime so by not openly discussing it, we are feeding into the paradigm of concealment. We must ask ourselves, who are we really protecting?

We are not suggesting for one moment that this becomes the conversation over the garden wall, but more that the stigma attached to this crime, should rest with the perpetrator, not the victim.   He should be the only one hanging his head in shame.

The Kavanagh Sisters – 4th March 2014

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