Why it takes victims so long to report sexual molestation

Monday, 04 December 2017, 05:18:22 PM. It takes a long time for the injured party to speak up because of fear, unfounded guilt, and availability of someone to believe.

During a 2014 talk in Fort Morgan, former Miss Colorado and Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur encourages adults to talk with kids about appropriate touching and sexual matters. Van Derbur is the author of "Miss America by Day," in which she chronicles being molested by her father from age 5 to 18.Fort Morgan Times fileDuring a 2014 talk in Fort Morgan, former Miss Colorado and Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur encourages adults to talk with kids about appropriate touching and sexual matters. Van Derbur is the author of “Miss America by Day,” in which she chronicles being molested by her father from age 5 to 18.

Why does it take so many years to report sexual molestation?

Most sufferers are told by their perpetrator something similar to “If you tell anybody, they won’t believe you.” Usually the perpetrator is larger, older, and/or more powerful.  Whether it is a parent, other relative, teacher, minister, coach or politician, a position of trust has been violated.  Molestation is criminally or morally wrong. Children, and for some into adulthood, believe they are responsible for all that happens to and with them.

When I was molested in the early 1950s as a young teen, I told one person, who said, “No one will believe you, because he is so popular. You have to forget it.” I buried it deeply and tried to forget it. In 1997, I heard Marilyn Van Derbur tell her horrific experience of abuse; then I was able to bring my own molestation to light.

The world is paying a tremendous price for all the molestation that is not identified, admitted and treated. The workforce is full of persons hiding deep secrets which reduce their productivity, thus costing them, their employer and the world millions of dollars.

It takes a long time for the injured party to speak up because of fear, unfounded guilt, and availability of someone to believe.

Don Brewer, Westminster

This writer is executive director emeritus of the Tennyson Center for Children at Colorado Christian Home.

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