I both know what it is to be a sexual abuse victim AND to have a family member credibly accused of sexual abuse.
Nothing can prepare a family for the implosion of abuse allegations.
Allegations of sexual abuse are low (2-10%). Stats alone support the general idea that victims are to be believed and allegations should be taken very seriously from the outset. Abuse disclosure rates and timelines vary widely (5-43%) but are also relatively low.
Abuse dehumanizes victims and abuse allegations can cause people to dehumanize both victims and offenders. Offenders are called monsters, victims often elaborate and loose liars. Both offenders and victims are human.
When someone who is part of your family is accused of abuse, it absolutely rips the foundations of your family apart. The implosion is immediate. Sides are taken. People are blamed. Authorities are rightly involved. Public shame and humiliation rain down.
Most families where abuse occurs have unwritten rules, invisible tethers of knowing without really knowing. Family members have specific unwritten roles which crisis demands that they play and play NOW. Often they do. Everyone’s world is caving into one hellish heap.
The suicide attempts/accomplished.
All of it.
The endless investigations.
The abject horror if it all.
Few families will believe the victim, support the victim, and hold the offender to account. As unbelievable as what it is — the only logical choice is to believe the victim.
Families need to remove the offender from any access or influence over the victim and prevent any further victims from being created. This may cost all. All must be spent.
If you have a family member who has been accused, I urge you to remember that his behaviour is not yours and his humiliation is not yours. You have no choice but to deal with the fallout in a way that protects the victims, your wellbeing and what remains of your family.
If you have a family member who has been accused, I urge you to remember that his behaviour is not yours and his humiliation is not yours. You have no choice but to deal with the fallout in a way that protects the victims, your wellbeing, and what remains of your family.
Denials, even passionate denials, mean little from an offender. Just because you wouldn’t lie bald faced doesn’t mean he wouldn’t. Degrees of denial and distortions are commonplace for offenders. You wouldn’t sexually abuse another either — odds are very high that he did.