How do we recognize the victims?

Whether it is victimization by sexual abuse or domestic violence, it’s not always easy to pick out the victims. My book, Orange Blossom Wishes, was released in 2008. Since that time I am still asked on a consistent basis by many who knew me, some very close friends, “How did we not know? How did we not know during all those years of school you were being sexually molested?” Those who remained friends into adulthood and during my marriage ask, “How were we unable to sense you were being abused, that you were a victim of domestic violence?”

How do we not know when someone is being battered? It’s really quite simple—victims of abuse become experts at hiding the dirty secrets going on in their lives, regardless of their age or circumstance. Whether it is fear, embarrassment, shame or threats of further harm, no matter the motivating factor, victims learn to keep their mouths shut, their skeletons in the closet, to put on a happy face or hide from society, and fake it, deceiving most everyone. I managed to pull it off as young as seven years of age, and even as a 30-year-old woman.

Sadly, the statistics say far too many people either DO know or suspect something, but most say or do nothing. It isn’t always a matter of not caring, or refusing to get involved. Some fear danger for themselves. Others are just not certain how to approach the matter. If you have any reasonable suspicion that a child is being molested or abused, call a local shelter, go to the Victim Support page and find an agency that can help walk you through, or contact law enforcement. These are our children. They cannot represent or advocate for themselves. It is our moral (and in most cases legal) obligation to protect our innocents.

It’s different if you suspect an adult is the victim of domestic violence. There are multiple blog posts here sharing information as to what to say (and NOT say) to potential victims. If you are not sure, again, go to the Victim Support page on this blog and contact an agency or organization that can provide you with proper information on how to handle just such a situation. The last thing you should do is nothing.

Carolyn is an advocate for sexual/domestic violence and assault awareness, also focusing on child sexual abuse. She is a Victim Support & Empowerment Coach, working with victims and survivors of molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse, and bringing training to organizations seeking to help victims.
(FRIENDLY REMINDER: Our website is temporarily down due to reconstruction. We’ll announce the “new and improved” version when it is up and running. In the meantime, all the information is here on the blog site).

  1. Too many don’t want to, or wish they didn’t know, so they talk themselves into it. Or suspect, yet want to hear from us first hand. Thank you for putting your stuff out there. You’re awesome.

    • Thank you, likamarie, for your kind words. We are all in this together, whether we realize it or want to admit it. Simply by sharing blog posts, reading and passing on valuable information, or simply offering encouragement and “I’m here if you want to talk,” could save a life. THAT is what it’s all about. Happy New Year!!

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