Disclosures: Finding a Voice for the Boy

Rob Brown discusses the difficulties and barriers to disclosing his childhood sexual abuse.

“Why didn’t he ever tell us back then?” “Why did you wait 30 years to tell us this?” “You let them do what to you?” “So its 50-years later and you are just now accusing JFK of sex-abuse?”

Disclosure of sexual abuse is a very difficult topic to even examine, let-alone bring to words.  Disclosure of Child Sex Abuse (CSA) becomes an actual element in the trauma and treatment. It influences court battles, medical and physical issues, mental state & stasis, relationships, and can even determine if you live another day, or die needlessly.

If you watch and read enough reports of CSA cases in the media you eventually hear multiple reasons why the child or informed-adult doesn’t disclose. You hear the reasons, but you just don’t know it.  We hear them today with the Mimi Alford story. Some press coverage accuses the young intern of being opportunistic, of being a “mistress” to President Kennedy, and even being a more-than-willing participant.  What went on there was a clear abuse of power and resulting shame that lead to 50-years of Mimi Alford’s silence. And now, as she predicted, she’s being shredded by the press for not disclosing sooner.

In press coverage of child rape cases, you’ll hear the words and statements that completely discourage a victim from seeking help: “Opportunistic, attention-seeking, complicit, willing participant.”  In interviews with police detectives (the supposedly crime-and-victim astute detectives), you may hear “we don’t know why the boy waited so long to report this…” or “yes, it does appear there were several encounters between Smith and the boy over the years…” and “I don’t know if the boy was a willing participant or not.” (We hear that one a lot.)

So many police interviews unintentionally position the victim as complicit. I say “unintentionally” to be kind to our law enforcement people. What actually ‘positions’ a 10-year-old boy as “complicit” is the cop’s complete ignorance of the very roots of child-rape laws. That is, “children cannot consent, they can only comply!” And until the police, the prosecutors, judges and juries get that concept squarely in their prejudicial heads, victims will nearly-always wish they had never told!

The child rape victim likely does not even posses the words to describe what happened to him. “He let it go on for so long” the mother said. That statement alone can lead to the end of any chance of healing and the beginning of the boy’s near-certain demise.

Max, a friend of mine told his mother what a neighbor’s older son and then the father did to him for over 18-months. He had to tell. He surely did not want to tell. The shame, humiliation, the self-disgust, knowing his image will be forever shattered in his parent’s eyes. But he had to tell, as the rectal hemorrhaging would not stop and he feared he may die…at 10-years-old…he may die. His Mother’s response: “You let them do WHAT to you?”

When I last heard from Max, we were both 47-years-old, yet we were still 10. I was heading into a locked mental-ward, he was wandering-off into New Mexico to die in the wilderness.

Disclosure. Such a simple word, yet such a huge element of CSA. The child has countless reasons to not tell; Countless significant reasons to not tell. He knows he’s made it “this far,” he can make it another day, month, year, if he has to, but he’ll never be able to tell.

Disclosure needs to be treated in great detail here, and you, as a member of society or as a victim (of any age) needs to read it, learn it, and change the conditions that enable untold devastation. The fact that we can’t come forward as little boys (or little girls) and teens, that we know disclosure won’t go well, that the pre-conceived beliefs we’ve heard from our parents’ mouth are the reasons we don’t scream-out for the help we so desperately need and want. So read, learn and change things please! The coming treatment of non-disclosure should astound you.

Much more to come…

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About Robert Brown

Rob is a Child Rights Activist and state-level lobbyist.

Comments

  1. Such an important article and I hope everyone who has any contact with children reads this and takes it to heart.

  2. Children don’t let things happen to them. They trust that the adults involved are doing the right thing, and accept that this is what is supposed to happen. Child abuse is entirely the adult’s fault.

  3. Wow! Power, power stuff, Rob.

    What can I do to educate authorities (police, social workers, teachers, ect.) and the media? How can one candle such as myself help light the dark room society dwells in regarding childhood sexual abuse- especially in boys- the most neglected victims of all?

    Thanks for your courage. You are making a great difference for so many souls! Please stay strong in your much needed efforts!

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