Exposure to domestic violence sets up a snowball effect . . . as it continues rolling, it gathers debris, becomes bigger and more dangerous, potentially causing damage to anything that it touches. When it finally comes to a standstill, the snowball still encases all the debris it has gathered along the way.
I believe in the ‘power of naming’ as an effective strategy to break the silence about violence and abuse. Through our shared stories we discover new meanings and build strong connections that challenge the divisive tactics of violence and abuse and overcome the resultant isolation and self-blame experienced by women and children. Never underestimate the power of a story to create change.
Recovery from sexually harmful behaviour is complex as a result of the strategies used by the person causing the harm and the variety of responses from the victims and those close to them. In intra-familial sexual abuse the experiences and needs of victims are often invisible. Others, especially mothers, are unfairly put in positions of blame or self-blame. To facilitate the recovery of the victims and their families, it is critical for all concerned to contribute to the unravelling of the circumstances – and for the offenders to accept responsibility.
It is imperative to challenge the forces within our society that would prefer the issue of child sexual assault to stay silent, or for the silence to be disguised by messages including ‘tired of talking about it’ or ‘it doesn’t seem to be an issue anymore’ or ‘it only happens to certain children in certain families’. A critical responsibility of all who work in the field professionally is to never allow such silence to prevail.