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Friday, September 3, 2010

The Danger of Not Questioning Why

As an occupation, I am a child advocate. My primary role is to provide support, information, and referrals to childhood victims of sexual abuse and their non-offending caregivers. One of the questions I am asked most frequently by my clients is "why?"

Why? Why did they choose me and my family? Why does he do that? Why didn't I notice? Why didn't she tell me sooner?

There are many painful questions that they have. Unfortunately, most of them will never be answered satisfactorily.

But, what interests me is that the questioning often comes after the disclosure, not before. Now, I do not want this to be construed as victim-blaming, but I am often astonished that there are all these 'red flag' behaviors concerning an individual that they know, but no one, at the time, prior to the assaults, questions why someone would be spending so much time with their child, buying them elaborate gifts, offering free babysitting, etc.

I understand, obviously, that I know the warning signs, while many others have never been educated in them, but even if you had no knowledge around childhood sexual abuse, if you did have practice with analyzing the events of your life and critically considering the motivations and thoughts of others, you might have been led to question why.

It is not the families faults for not questioning. They should be able to live in a world where one must not be on guard for potential trust violations by close friends and family members.

However, this does reconfirm my belief that teaching those analytical skills applies to so many areas of life, and that those who were never taught how to think critically are at a disadvantage. So, I feel it is my job not only to educate families as to what signs to watch out for, but how to think about their lives and the people in them in an even more mindful way.

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