Extra Reasons Why Molested Children Stay Silent


Most incidents of child sex abuse are never reported - for a variety of reasons:

The following is taken verbatim from Diane Roblin-Lee, Why All the Fuss? (byDesignMedia, 2009).  The original list provided by Diane is longer, but my book discusses those additional reasons:

  • Fear of retaliation by the offender - Many offenders control their victims with threats.
  • The shame of things done in secret – It’s embarrassing to have people know what one has done on an intimate level.
  • The shame of enjoyment - Not all touches by an offender are distasteful to a child. Knowing that what is happening is wrong and yet finding occasional pleasure in the relationship makes a child feel ashamed of himself/herself.
  • Love for the offender - Offenders are sometimes dearly loved family members who shamefully confuse children with loving touches combined with inappropriate touches.
  • Fear of peer group reaction – “What will my friends think of me if I tell?”
  • Deer in the headlights – It’s not uncommon for a victim to “freeze” like a deer in the headlights, when abuse occurs. The traumatic experience paralyzes them in terms of ability to seek help.
  • Confusion - Living between an offender who is instructing him to be silent and a parent who is teaching him or her to be vocal about bad touches can be a very confusing place for a child.


The following is taken verbatim from Misti Joy Woolery Lincoln, A Balm In Gilead: The Role Of The Church In Healing And Prevention Of Child Sexual Abuse (as at http://media.gobbc.edu/TREN/tren/062-0164.pdf):

"Children may be afraid to tell their parents because they think their parents will not love them as much if they know they have been abused. ... They think no one will believe them even if they do tell. If the abuser is a family member, the child may not want to hurt that person. Along with these reasons, children may not be able to put their feelings into words or explain what has happened to them."


The following is taken verbatim from John Wihbey, Global Prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse (as at journalistsresource.org, Nov. 15th 2011):

"[U]nder-reporting [by males] may be particularly prevalent because of the 'possibility of greater shame and the fear that they will be labeled as homosexual (if the aggressor was another man) or weak (if the aggressor was a woman), which may combine with the fact that they are more often accused of having provoked the abuse'."


The following is taken verbatim from Anton Mifsud, 'Profile of the Child Molester', CHILD magazine, The Times (Malta), March 10th 2012, pp. 9-11:

"The games [child molesters sometimes] engage in with children involve significant body contact. A form of triple strategy is involved here, firstly to gradually blur the boundaries between proper and improper contact with their young victims, secondly to desensitize them to touch ..., and thirdly to transmit a sense of parental acceptance to the children - parents who do nothing about such activities are inadvertently communicating to the victims a sense of approval once they have tolerated the improper conduct of the molester ...

"Molesters use various techniques to make children feel responsible for the abuse ... Victims often assume their own behaviour to be responsible for the abuse, unaware of the gradual grooming that has taken place, certain their silence and compliance [and any lies the molester has managed to cajole them into telling their parents] implies guilt. In the child's mind they think they are as guilty as the molester. They think other little boys and girls don't do this, so they must not be good children. They are overwhelmed with shame much of the time, and simply comply with the wishes of the adult."


There is a further aspect of a child's mind which tends to hide abuse, especially once the perpetrator has moved on. Specifically, children hate even to think about the abuse, let alone talk of it. It is such an intensely painful matter for some victims that they mentally distance themselves from it and become unable to delve into that portion of their brain. The abuse is often far too shocking for a young mind to rationalize it, and hence the child buries it. (This happened with a friend of mine. When she was small, she locked away the details of the abuse she suffered. Thankfully, another friend is skilled in this area and is unlocking that cupboard so that proper healing can take place. The molestation is proving to be very real.)


Another reason some children stay quiet is illustrated by the following true events:

"[An abused girl] said she never told of the abuse because her father often said he loved her so much and he would kill anyone who hurt her. She asked a childhood friend, 'What happens when a man kills someone else?'  She was told the man would go to prison forever. So she thought she was protecting her father by keeping quiet."