Believe the Unbelievable

“It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth” – Tocqueville

When we saw this meme, we thought how true it is for victims of abuse, especially for children. It is easier for people to believe a parent did not abuse their kid than it is to believe a child when they say their mom or dad hurt them.

Why is that? Are kids really that unbelievable? Have they lost all credibility before they even began to really live life? What have children done to lose trust in adults?

We learn early on in school to talk to a trusted adult. We have all had those classes where someone comes in and talks about “good touches and bad touches” or “if someone is hurting you…”. Where an adult stands up in front of the class and tells the kids if they are being hurt or know of a classmate being hurt then tell a trusted adult like a teacher, a parent, etc. You know the ones we are referring to.

Here is the thing though…what happens when none of those adults listen? Why stress children speak up when they are not going to be heard, or believed? What is the point?

We grew up telling adults what was going on until no one listened anymore. We were never believed. You see, our parents were involved in the church and were well-respected in the community. In fact, my mom was looked up to as a good Christian parent and role model who was often left in charge of other children. She ran the church daycare, operated an in-home daycare, and babysat all the time. And all this time here we were begging to be believed. We were often ignored and when people did listen it was passed off as being a “defiant child who was looking for attention and just causing problems”.

That is who we had become as a child. We were known as a trouble maker, an ungrateful child, and an attention seeker. Nothing we said was ever believed. You see, my parents had such a high standing and an amazing reputation in the town that believing they could hurt their own child was inconceivable.

That is the problem with putting parents (or people) on pedestals. They are lifted so high that it seems impossible they can be an abuser. We are seeing it more and more in the news these days, especially in the Catholic church but also recently in schools, other denominations, with celebrities, and sporting events. It is sad it has taken so long to gain recognition and attention.

Back to my original question, why are children not believed? Or more importantly, when will children be believed that someone in their life is abusing them? There are facts and statistics which show that a person is abused more often by someone they know and trust than by a stranger. If we believe the research done and what the statistics show, then what needs to be changed so that society will begin to believe when children say they were hurt/abused by a trusted adult?

We make a lot of strides in this subject lately with media attention. Yet we have so far to go. So stop and listen when a child speaks up. It takes a lot of strength for a child to tell an adult, but it takes more strength to survive in an abusive environment. A child who speaks up is a strong person indeed, it might just take them a long time to see it…

A. G. Ballard

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