February 26, 2018
By Sara Kabakov
hen the #MeToo movement began, I watched, stunned. While in despair to learn of so many high profile predators using their power to intimidate and abuse women, I was also exhilarated; finally the world was opening its blind eye. Maybe my daughters will be able call out men who try to sexually intimidate them, and be believed.
But there was also a place inside me that could not feel anything, an empty place with no words, and no sound. A place I inhabited when I was a child, alone, trapped with a terrible secret, with no solution I could see, for getting out.
When I was 13 and 14 years old, a student rabbi in my community repeatedly molested me. He told me that if I told, no one would believe me and I would be blamed. And he was right. When I did tell, I was blamed. The well-meaning adults in my world were not attuned to the signs of sexual abuse, and did not know how to respond.
Tragically, the number of children who are at this moment, living through the imprisonment of child sexual abuse I did, is staggering. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, every eight minutes, Child Protective Services substantiates or finds evidence for a claim of child sexual abuse.
That is one hundred and eighty times a day.
Worse still, many cases of sex abuse are unreported, meaning this astronomical number is just a drop in the bucket; the scope of this problem is astounding. Meanwhile, groundbreaking studies of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) show the lifelong deleterious health effects on children who have endured physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
MeToo has taught us the importance of listening to adult survivors. Now we must apply the same principle to children when they disclose abuse.
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