This topic makes families shudder. Do you know what it is? Or, you know what it is and wish it would just vanish from your child’s life. Guess what? It doesn’t!
A lot of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) have been sexually abused by previous caregivers. There, I’ve said it. Let’s bring this problem into the light.
Humans are sexual beings. God made us this way, sorry to tell you this, but it’s true. When children are sexually abused, it’s a person exerting their power over a defenseless child. The child is not to blame!!!
I had a teenage foster daughter who was sexually abused by her father and her mother never believed her when she tried to report him. This girl was really strong and would fight anyone to protect herself. I told her it was okay to feel the way she did and that I would fight for her as much as I could, so she wasn’t alone. That child was a beautiful person.
Pretending it doesn’t exist is telling the child, as far as you are concerned, it really didn’t happen. This could be a trigger for the child’s behaviors and families don’t recognize it.
As an adoptive parent of a child from India who was continuously sexually abused most of her life before I adopted her, I had to accept that she was going to act out sexually. Because of her age, I couldn’t monitor her every move (she was actually closer to 14 when she arrived than the 10-year-old she was legally supposed to be.)
When she was legally 12, I discovered she was pregnant. She didn’t know what was happening to her body. She could not describe the changes to her body, so she never said anything. She was six-months pregnant. She had hidden it well. I explained to her what to expect and a few days later she began to feel movement. It freaked her out.
A couple of years later, after being in a teenage therapy group, she told me and the therapist what her life in India was really like. She was continually raped by her father after her mother died. She equated sex with “LOVE.” She could never understand that sex wasn’t a guy’s way of saying he loved her.
I discussed with her about being sexually active and how to keep herself safe. I can honestly say, my talks didn’t stop her. If there had been ways to prevent getting pregnant that she could use, like they have today, I would have had her on it.
For families with children abused sexually before you adopted them, please be understanding of your child’s sexualized behaviors. Accept it as part of them and treat them as normal children. Do NOT make it sound like they’re damaged beyond repair (don’t tell me all of you would never do that, because it’s human nature to think so).
I will always advocate for sexually abused children. They need to come to terms with their history and learn that they still are valuable people.
Sexual abuse should never define a child’s life.
Thank you for reading my post.
N. Ann Lamphere, MSW
I support: Wasatch International’s Second Chance for Kids program (email@example.com) and the R.A.D. Teen Adoption Program (firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact either program if you have any questions about how they work.