CSA #7: CSA & The System

This seventh and last post in this blog series about Childhood Sexual Abuse will cover content about how the system and institutional pieces relate to CSA.

This information I’m giving is one fraction of what is out there. I am in no way an authority on this topic. This writing is the tip of some possibilities. This content is so complex. These are SOME of the things that could possibly come up. My intention with these writings is not to tell you what is or is not true, but to spark a dialogue and ask “what does this mean for you?” I am definitely not an expert in Childhood Sexual Abuse, I am saying “here is one piece, where will you go with this? Let’s get ourselves talking about it.”

When sharing my woes about this issue, one of my dearest mentors said to me “a society that truly valued children would not have the statistics we do.” And it clicked. This is an issue so much bigger than what most of us think. How we truly treat, perceive, approach, and think / feel about children is apparent all over the place. Even in my psyche, I catch this irritation at children at times when I could be appreciating their instincts and joys.

The oppression of children is a topic that reaches beyond but is glaringly bright within the topic of childhood sexual abuse. It’s an issue of systemic and institutional oppression, just as racism is. When children are not listened to, not asked about, not paid attention to, how are they supposed to get help if they are being abused? And many times if they are being listened to, are asked about, and are given attention, they still cannot get out of the system that is perpetuating their abuse (like a school counselor who knows of a child’s home life but has to watch it keep happening). This runs so deep it’s easy to feel hopeless. But there is something we can do.

One Role Model
I saw a video recently of a mother who posted about her daughter being molested by the mother’s boyfriend. She named his identity, her outrage that he only got 9 months in jail after raping an underage girl, kicked him out of the home immediately, and advocated for her daughter in an explicitly public way that broke the barriers of anything I’ve ever seen.

The Ism’s
The sad truth is that our system is not only set up to oppress children but it is set up to let people off who are privileged. Wealthy, white, “have it together” abusers go untouched way more than people of color, low income, already in the judicial system individuals. I reported someone who looks perfect on paper, is wealthy, running a business in the local community, and has children. The facade of perfection is so thick it’s a red flag. The case was dropped before it was even opened. If I had reported a man of color, who did not present in this manicured way, I doubt the case would have been dropped in the same way. Simple fact: the system is set up to protect those who are privileged and focus on those who are not, in every way.

I won’t lie, I felt outraged at the system’s boldness to tell me “this has not been chosen for investigation” and when I asked “why?” I couldn’t get a clear response nor a tangible reason. It’s no longer PC to say “because he’s white and wealthy and could turn this around on us with his power”, so it turns into “there’s not enough reason for an investigation.” This is so far from integrity that there “isn’t enough for an investigation” that I’m ashamed to be a part of this system. What is enough? The fact that he runs his own business teaching youth? The fact that he has children of his own? The fact that he used his power to prey on a child’s innocence? Not enough? After multiple attempts, apparently only an act of a spiritual power would bring justice in this case. I found myself so incredibly sad.

A Reminder when Hopelessness Sets In
The positive that I have been reminded of by my mentors is that working with people to build a sense of truth inside of themselves is what I do have power over. It has an impact to say to someone who never received it before: “I believe you” and to hold them with care as the truth of their experience becomes a reality.

We can all start to do this for one another. You don’t have to be a therapist to believe someone, to care for them, to ask questions, and to support yourself as you hear things that are painful. Therapy is often incredibly helpful, but so many don’t have access to therapeutic work. The strength of relationships outside of therapeutic work is just as important as professional support. That is all I know to do about this. And to write. Keep asking questions, thank you for reading.

If you want to revisit what I started with, these are the topics that came before this post:

My coming posts will include an attachment quiz, an E-Book on Embodiment, developmental movement videos, and more. Stay tuned! With love, Alicia


About Alicia Patterson

Alicia Patterson is a Psychotherapist / Dance Movement Therapist, Birth Doula, Energy Worker, Dance and Yoga Facilitator in the Boulder / Denver area.
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