Imagine for one moment that you are not yourself any longer. Visualize instead that you are a young girl; old enough to know right from wrong yet still young enough to be terrified by the dark shadows in your room. It is a cool autumn night and your parents have opted to attend a party, which you are not allowed at. "It will be fine," they say. Although you already know what is to come. Your uncle comes over to watch you for the evening, and your parents are so pleased by the fact that they do not have to find a sitter. As soon as he arrives, your mother kisses you on the cheek and scurries out the door to join your father already waiting in the car outside. The nightmare begins. You can feel his eyes worming through your clothes every time that he looks at you. You feel dirty and violated every time you think about what he does to you when you are alone. He walks over to the couch and sits down next to you. His hand slithers it way onto your knee and you cringe in repulsion. "Don't be afraid, I won't hurt you," he says. Your mind feels panicky as you fell his touch
in more intimate places and you scream involuntarily. His grip tightens as he places his hand over your mouth. "We'll have to do this the hard way!" he whispers intensely. You try to fight him off, but it doesn't help. His massive body is on top of yours, and you feel so powerless. Eventually, you sink into a sobbing heap and simply wait for his passions to stop. You wait for the nightmare to end. When he is done, you limp to the laundry room and try to remove the bloodstains from your clothes. It is all your fault...
What you have just experienced is one type of abuse that occurs millions of times every year across America. Estimates of abuse range wildly depending on the source of ones information. Anywhere from one to two million children per year are victims of child abuse (Dolan). All sources agree on the simple truth that not nearly all cases of child abuse are reported or even estimated. Man cases go unreported, less than 50% by current estimates (Dolan). The amount of child abuse is staggering to think about, let alone deal with. By the age of eighteen one in three girls will have been sexually molested and one in six boys will have been molested in that same time frame. (WWW site). So how has child abuse changed over the last 100 years and what effects has this had on the family?
It is clear that families are undergoing a number of important structural changes. Families are smaller than in the past, with fewer children and sometimes with only one parent; parents have children at a later age; more couples live together without the bonds of matrimony, which was accepted as a sacred bond. This degradation of society is unknown throughout all areas of research. It is a question that one person needs to answer for himself and solve for himself. Something a young child is not capable of doing.
Sexual abuse of children is a grim fact of life in our society. It is more common than most people realize. Sexual abuse is described as those activities by an older person for his or her sexual gratification without consideration for the child's psychosocial sexual development. Also, as s or interactions between a child and an individual of higher power when the child is being used for the sexual stimulation of that adult or another (Ruth). There are many categories of sexual abuse; these include incest, pedophilia, exhibitionism, molestation, sex (statutory rape), sexual sadism, and child pornography. It is estimated that approximately three hundred thousand children are involved in child prostitution and pornography (Kempe ). Many times men or woman who abuse children were abused when they were young. In this way, abuse is very much a self fulfilling prophecy, or circle problem. Historically, sexual abuse was not as much of a problem as it is in modern times. Incidences of sexual abuse are highest in urbanized technologically advanced societies. This is evident because the basic need of the sexual drive is denied a constructive outlet in modern society. In other cultures and times, prostitution was a valid form of employment, and this niche provided an integral outlet for connoisseurs of sex. Without this vent men with sexual frustration may turn to the less reactive child as sexual prey. Due to the black market prostitution of children, a twelve-year-old boy can earn upwards of a thousand dollars per day selling himself on the streets of Los Angeles. Sexual abuse can have severe consequences on the mental development of children.
The movie Lolita has been controversial in all its incarnation. The original movie caused a storm with its portrayal of a middle-aged man Humbert Humbert. He is so obsessed with a pre-teen "nymphet" that he marries her irritating mother just to be near Lolita. In many ways Humbert is also a classic pedophile, because he persuades himself that this is not a perverse desire but love. He tells us that he is this way because of the tragic death of his first love at 13. He has sought her ever since. So he is not an exploiter of a young girl but a respectful worship at a shrine (O'Brien). Quilty, by contrast, is portrayed as a monstrous pedophile.
In conclusion, we have gone over the most important points and facts about child sexual abuse and what their affects are on children. We have tried to shed some light on this unspoken and shunned subject. The answer to the question which was posed at the beginning of this paper is vague at best and unanswerable at worst. Child abuse has always been around, and it always will be around as long as other people care more about themselves, than about others. The last hundred years have only brought about changes in the discussion, description, and definition of child abuse. These things have helped do away with child abuse significantly, but the eradication of this most cursed of diseases is not in the sight of those who look to the future.
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