NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — One in four girls and one in seven boys will be sexually abused by age 18 according to Our Kids, a center that treats sexually abused children in Middle Tennessee.
We sat down with a male victim who chose to remain anonymous.
“I was probably in the 3rd or 4th grade when it happened to me. It was a neighborhood babysitter who had been around the neighborhood for years. My parents knew their family. They were friends. Nobody thinks that can happen. It’s an unspoken trust. But, it did.”
Experts say child sexual abuse typically happens at the hands of a trusted individual. In this, case a 17-year-old boy.
“As a child, I can remember thinking I don’t want to get in trouble and knowing this was happening and knowing it wasn’t right. You’re scared from a lot of different avenues.”
Did it ever cross your mind to tell your parents?
“I think it might have,” he responded, “I get the feeling. But, I now understand some of the reasons why I didn’t. Especially telling my father and to be perfectly honest with you, he still doesn’t know. He’d blame himself for a lot of the things I went through after… from a young man at 12 years old smoking cigarettes, by 14 drinking, 15 marijuana.”
Changes in behavior, sudden mood swings, unexplained anger are all signs parents shouldn’t ignore.
“I had blocked it out as an actual event. I started having these nightmares and I actually saw him one day on the road. He pulled up in the car next to me, and I didn’t know what to do. I just sat there through an entire light because I now realized those nightmares were actually real. I told nobody until I was 30. That was the first time I said anything.”
Who did you confide in?
It’s common for victims of child sexual abuse to carry undeserving shame.
“People are afraid to talk about it because they think, how I’m going to look? It wasn’t my fault. It’s that impression though. I’m just thankful that I came through it. I wish I would have had the help the Davis House provides. It didn’t exist back then.”
The Davis House, part of the Child Advocacy Center, is a free resource where children and caregivers come to heal.
“The children that we’re serving today grow up to be me and you. So when we’re helping these children heal in the here and the now, we’re also helping them be a better human being later in life,” said Marcus Stamps Executive Director of the Davis House.
The center also provides community classes for early detection and intervention.
Stamps encourages everyone to be proactive, “you have the ability through education, training, and awareness to be able to help prevent some instances of abuse. be sure that you do that.”
Always report suspected abuse. Tips can be anonymous.
The Davis House is a non-profit origination. If you would like to donate to help keep their services free to those in Middle TN, you can learn more here.
News 2 is investigating new trends and tactics being used by adults who prey on children. Click here to see more from “Unspeakable Crimes: What Parents Need to Know”.