Myths About Childhood Sexual Abuse

Check out the reality behind the myth:

This myth is based on the Freudian concept that children are “seductive”. Sometimes children, to gain love or attention, may appear to initiate the relationship. In a child’s world, adults control most of the resources and know all of the answers. The abusers enforce secrecy and if they threaten the child or someone they love, the child may not question the abuser's power to carry out the threat and so comply with any abuse.

Children cannot understand adult-child sexual contact or predict the consequences because of their emotional immaturity.

Children are damaged by sexual abuse whoever the perpetrator is.

Child sexual abuse occurs in all classes and every culture.

This is a way of placing the blame on the family, rather than on the perpetrator of the crime. Frequently the blame is put on the mother, which may inhibit the child from seeking the mother’s help.

This is an attempt to normalise the crime of sexual violence against children.

There is little evidence that many children deliberately make false allegations or misinterpret appropriate adult-child contact as sexual abuse. In the small number where children appear to have made false allegations, it has usually been the result of manipulation by an adult.

Women come for counselling as a result of having remembered incidents in their childhood. Person Centred Counselling is a method of listening to what the person is saying, not of suggesting false memories. Once counselling has begun, the woman is likely to remember incidents and feelings that she had previously “buried” as a coping strategy. The idea of “False Memory Syndrome” denies the reality that many children are abused and detracts attention from that reality. This prevents many children and women being heard and supported.

This is perhaps the most damaging myth of all for survivors of childhood sexual abuse who fear that they will harm their own children. The reality is that someone who has been sexually abused as a child is no more or less likely to go on to abuse children as an adult. In fact one piece of Canadian research showed that 40% of convicted child molesters were abused as children themselves...that’s 60% who were not!