(3) Reasons victims of sexual abuse participate in the abuse. A variety of
factors are responsible for the sexually molested victim to cooperate, such as the
(a) Rewards or bribes may be used to encourage the victim to go
along. The offender may treat the abuse as a game, little by little encouraging the
victim to engage in sexual play.
(b) The offender may use fear. While force and violence are not
usually used directly, the offender may tell the child he will hurt other family members if
the child does not cooperate.
(c) The offender may place blame on the victim. Many adults blame
the child for not resisting the abuser. Remember, children are taught early in life to
obey adults and to do as adults tell them. Particularly among children under 13, sexual
activity is beyond their understanding and far beyond the child's capacity for moral
judgment. The adult offender is totally responsible, but the child may bear life-long guilt
feelings that he is a "bad" person. The adult abuser often encourages such feelings.
(d) Many victims believe that others know what is going on. The victim
may even think that he is sending signals inviting the abuse. When sexual advances
are made by strangers, the victims often believe more strongly and incorrectly that they
have brought the abuse on themselves.
(e) A different kind of fear is present if the offender is a member of the
victim's family. The victim sometimes is afraid that telling about the abuse will disrupt or
destroy his family, and the child cares about his family very much.
(f) The sexually abused child may not realize that anything is wrong if
the abuse is committed by someone the child loves and trusts.
(g) The victim may believe that ending the sexual activity will mean the
loss of the love of the abuser.
(h) Sometimes victims think no one will believe them and so do not tell
(i) Victims may feel that sex is bad and be too ashamed and guilty to
tell anybody about what happened.
MANAGEMENT OF THE ABUSED CHILD
Your first concern when treating an abused child is to be sure all life-threatening
injuries are treated first. Check the child's airway, breathing, and circulation. Treat, if