In 2015, after my first book was published, my immediate surrounding was shocked. Why? Because my book was dealing with child abuse topics. The book told the story of a child who was severely abused by her guardians. The character was fictional, but I took some details from true cases that happened. The character was built on my own childhood feelings and experiences (I will come to that later). I received shocked reactions, like “you should not write about such topic”, “you should write about happy things”, “I hope you didn’t write about sexual abuse” (I didn’t, by the way). I have to say, I felt miserable, like if I commit a crime. It hurt because that book was meant to be the tool for my relief from the things I kept inside me for so long. I wanted to tell the story, to help myself, and maybe to help somebody else who experience something similar. Based on this experience, I’ve often asked myself the question: is it proper to speak about child abuse? After 6 years, I can say: yes, it is!
Child abuse is a big problem. We can find a lot of statistical data, how many children are abused, or what is the trend in abuse forms. These are good data for picturing the severity of the problem. There is though another aspect: behind the numbers are real children, children with feelings, needs, fears. Every single child who is a part of the statistics suffers. It suffers beatings, or is deprived of food, water, sleep, or is molested sexually, or is humiliated, belittled. Every child from the statistics has their own fears. And, dear reader, this is happening in real-time. It is happening at the moment I write this post and it will be happening during the time you read this post. This is the scariest fact of this article.
Every child who experiences abuse has their own story. The story they may be ashamed of. Or the story they don’t want to be known. I remember when I was still in elementary school, I had one or two close friends, but even they didn’t know what I’m going through at home. Telling that to them seemed impossible. When? How? Would they believe me? What if everything gets even worse after I tell it? And the most deceitful question: is really the situation so serious that I need to tell someone? Such doubts made it impossible to tell it to someone. It was the family secret that was supposed to be hidden from the outside world. As I’m writing this, I caught myself being vague and unspecific. Even now, as an adult who lives far away from my former home, I still have the problem to be specific. Hopefully in some future post…
Even for adults, it is not easy to talk about such childhood experiences. It is a very personal thing if somebody decided to talk about it or not. But when someone decides that they want to talk about it, we should not plug our ears. Speaking out takes a lot of courage and trust. My trust was shaken when I was repeatedly told I did the wrong thing. But I remember, after the book release, some of my friends supported me in the “crime” I committed. I am still very thankful to them. They listened to me and helped me to understand that despite the reactions I received, I didn’t do anything wrong when I put my feelings and experiences on paper.
What is then my answer to the question in the title? Here it is: because it helps. It helps those who experience it now because it raises awareness and people are more equipped to recognize the abuse and help those who are helpless. It helps adult survivors because they can share their burden with someone who wants to listen. And it helps to tell society: child abuse of any kind is WRONG!