Abuse: A Violent Crime in Silence
Kelly Jerome died four years ago at the age of 35. Jerome collapsed on her living room floor in front of her three small children. She would never regain consciousness. Her death certificate listed the cause of death as an aneurysm.
“Her pain ended,” Crystal Johnstone, a friend said, while reflecting back on Jerome’s life. “Kelly had been sexually molested by her older brother throughout her young childhood.”
Child sexual abuse can take place in many forms, including exhibitionism, inappropriate touching, making a child view pornographic materials, perform a sexual act, and intercourse, according to The Handbook of Clinical Intervention In Child Sexual Abuse
David Finkelhor did a survey of college students printed in the publication The Future of Children, Sexual Abuse of Children, 1994. His findings were that one in four females and one in five males had experienced forced sexual contact before the victim reached age 18.
Realizing the prevalence of child abuse in 1987, The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children was founded.
Andrea Burdick, an Orange County social worker said that a child abuse victim in a sexual nature gas to a special caseworker from the Child Abuse Sexual Team (CAST).
“CAST is the investigative arm when kids report sexual abuse.” Jan Grotewold, an advocate coordinator said. CAST social workers consist of a special Orange County team that deals only with child sexual abuse.
Diana Herweck, a senior social worker and child forensic interviewer at CAST said that she interviews victims with the aide of a two-way mirror. The district attorney, law officers, a court appointed special advocate, an emergency response worker and a court appointed special advocate are present behind the glass. This is so the child does not have to make a statement more than once. A tape recording of the child can be used in the case. CAST does not deal with the outcome of the case, but just the facts. “In the past nine years, 6,000 child abuse cases have come through the center.” Herweck said.
Rosemary Chiaferi is an instructor who teaches a Human Services child abuse class, Chiaferi lectures that the child sexual abuser knows their victim. The abuser might be a person who is close to the child, an authority figure, mentor, neighbor, parent, grandparent, uncle, or, sibling. Children of abuse usually do not tell.
There are many reasons a child does not tell. The child could be threatened, confused or be too young to realize that they are being abused. An important factor is that the abuser is not always a terrible role model in other ways. The offender could be a good parent. Such as an adult that reads to a child, takes them places, or helps with homework. So when a child does tell, they may loose the nurturing side with the abusive side. Children of sexual abuse sometimes make themselves undesirable, overweight or self-mutilated. The child believes that if they don’t look appealing, they will be left alone. Jerome was in excess of 100 pounds overweight until the drugs melted the pounds away.
Joseph Magliato, the senior pastor of Son Light Christian Center in Orange, has counseled many adults that have been victims of sexual child abuse. Magliato said “Child sexual abuse is like killing the child, but leaving them still to breathe.” Magliato gave the example of a simple peanut plant that if it is exposed to light too soon before the peanut is ready to be harvested it will be distorted. Magliato said he believes that sexual child abuse is a similar analogy. “It distorts the child’s perspective. The child feels shame and guilt.” Magliato said.
Agencies, church groups and support groups to help a sexual abuse victims of any age are numerous around the country. Publications are available at a local library or through searching on the Internet. The white pages have listings in your area under Social Services.
The Orange County Child Abuse Hotline is (714) 940-1000.