Wednesday 2 May 2012

A disturbing book, and the subject of sexual abuse of children

I have just finished this novel - It's me, Anna - by Elbie Lotter, and a very disturbing read it is. Written in spare prose, telling the story as it is, with little if any embelishment, it is a fictionalised account of the author's sexual abuse as a child.

In my years of relationship counselling, I came across very many victims of sexual abuse, and this book really brings alive the fear, the helplssness and the despair of child victims. Nothing so accentuates the total vulnerability of children as abuse, be it physical, verbal or sexual, and this harrowing story could only have been told my someone who had herself suffered. These children are almost always abused by someone they know, and if the abuse takes place in their own home, as Anna's does, there is literally nowhere to go. One of my clients said to me :"home was meant to be safe, but my home was never safe". Usually the child has been threatened with dire consequences if she betrays the "little secret" between her and the abuser, and if she does tell anyone, as Anna does, then she is often not believed.

There are too many myths about paedophiles. We live in a society where people are terrified to let their children go anywhere on their own, and there seems to be the belief that a child molester lurks round every corner (in fact, research has shown that there is a 1:200,000 chance of a child on its own being abducted). We fear to help a child on its own in case we are accused of trying to harm it, and in the meantime, thousands of us have a stack of useless CRB checks to "prove" that we are harmless.

Meanwhile, the real perpetrators often go free. To demonstrate this, I shall continue tomorrow with the appalling story of what happened to a child known to my family.


  1. Tried to comment and it vanished! Very brave subject to address, in fiction or real life. And too often the 'blame culture' we live in misses the real culprits.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Rosemary. The biggest problem is ignorance, and the wrong people being targeted.

  2. I'm a wimp and couldn't read such a graphic account, but good for you for bringing it to our attention.

  3. Actually, the book wasn't that graphic, Maggie. It didn't need to be.

  4. We should indeed feel safe in our own homes and with our families so it's even worse when such abuse comes from the people who should be offering security and protection.

  5. When I was a young man I used to babysit one of my goddaughters who was still a baby. I used to change her nappy and think nothing of it. How unthinkable would that be today? In fact I have known a man who wouldn't child mind his own children and if his wife went out (even if he was in) they got a child minder. That was extreme (and odd) but it's symptomatic of the fear with which some people live now.