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Dear Little Me..

Submitted Anonymously


*WARNING: sensitive content/trigger warning. Please be advised before continuing*


The purpose of this exercise below was for my client to write a letter to her younger self and acknowledge what she went through in order to help heal her current self. The letter can be to yourself at a specific age or just the general “younger” you. I told her to think about what you have learned about yourself and life since then, to close your eyes and breathe, and bring yourself back. Despite this exercise having the intent to be therapeutic and bring awareness, I did warn how this could be overwhelming as well.

Show kindness and compassion to your younger self. Consider what you have experienced; give that advice and reassurance. Don’t be afraid to be honest and vulnerable with yourself.


She wanted me to share it with others, solely to bring awareness to several things that has transpired in her life and she wished she was protected/people would recognize the signs. She admitted this letter to herself was a step in the right direction during this journey.

(Her name has been crossed out.)


*WARNING: sensitive content/trigger warning. Please be advised before continuing*



 



 



• Physical abuse is the use of physical force, such as hitting, kicking, shaking, burning, or other shows of force against a child.

• Sexual abuse involves inducing or coercing a child to engage in sexual acts. It includes behaviors such as fondling, penetration, and exposing a child to other sexual activities.

• Emotional abuse refers to behaviors that harm a child’s self-worth or emotional well-being. Examples include name calling, shaming, rejection, withholding love, and threatening.

• Neglect is the failure to meet a child’s basic physical and emotional needs. These needs include housing, food, clothing, education, and access to medical care.


For the sake of this letter, we will solely discuss Child Abuse/Assault.

  • Child sexual abuse: The repetitive act of sexually violating a child over time.

  • Child sexual assault: The one-time act of sexually violating a child, which can include any sexual touching or exploitation.

  • Molestation: The sexual assault of a very young child.

  • Rape: The forced act of penetration.

Child sexual abuse is not solely restricted to physical contact; such abuse could include noncontact abuse, such as exposure, voyeurism, and child pornography.



According to SafeAtLast.co:

"Child sexual abuse statistics show that about 1 in 10 children will experience sexual assault before they turn 18. Girls are the most likely to be victimized, with an estimated rate of 1 in every 7, while boys have a rate of 1 in 25. Fear, shame, and not knowing what has happened are leading reasons children don’t talk about the abuse. According to statistics on childhood sexual abuse, one in three adults wouldn’t believe a child if they disclosed sexual abuse. Studies have also shown that children lie about sexual abuse in only 2%–10% of cases. Children who are sexually abused often develop low self-esteem and a distorted view of sex which, according to child sexual abuse facts, can lead to being taken advantage of by perpetrators in the future."


Pedophilia and child sexual assault were examined by race, and almost half of the registered sex offenders in the United States are Caucasian. Nearly 20% are African American, and another 20% are Hispanic. Race is not a predictor of child sexual abuse, but it does appear that rape is primarily a white man’s crime, regardless of the victim’s age.

While the media emphasizes the notion of stranger danger and the risk of lone child molesters, statistics prove that only 7% of perpetrators are strangers to the child. Studies show that the perpetrator is most likely someone close to the child, such as a family member, neighbor, teacher, or family friend.


Many of those who have suffered from this type of abuse, develop immediate physical symptoms and eventually develops anxiety and poor social interaction skills.


The following signs are not meant to serve as an exhaustive list of the ways children experiencing sexual abuse may act or feel. A child’s response is unique to them as an individual and may or may not include what's being mentioned.

Physical Signs

  • Sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy

  • Unexplained injuries, especially to the genital area

  • Pain, bleeding, or discharge in the genitals, anus, or mouth

  • Persistent or recurring pain with urination or bowel movements

  • Toileting accidents unrelated to toilet training

  • Physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches that cannot be explained


Behavioral Signs

  • Knowledge about sexual topics that goes beyond the child’s developmental stage (or what is expected for them to know about at their age)

  • Withdrawal from previously regular interactions and conversations with peers and parents or activities they previously enjoyed

  • Desire to spend an unusual amount of time alone

  • Reluctance to leave school or other activities; not wanting to go home

  • Trying to avoid certain places or people, especially if they used to be excited to be around those people

  • Regressing to behaviors they had grown out of such as wetting the bed or sucking their thumb

  • Sexual language, knowledge, or behavior that does not match a child’s age (such as acting out a sexual act with toys or inappropriate sexual contact with other children)

  • Frequent absences from school or other activities

  • Having money, toys, or gifts without being able to explain where they came from

  • Refusing to share secrets they share with an older child or adult

  • Talking about a new friend that is an older child or adult

  • Removing clothing at inappropriate times

  • Drug or alcohol abuse

  • Running away from home

  • Fear of closeness with others


Emotional Signs

  • Self-harm behaviors (such as cutting or burning) or suicidal behavior

  • Nightmares, trouble sleeping, or fear of being alone at night

  • Change in mood or personality

  • New or increased depression, aggression, worry, or fearfulness

  • Changes in eating habits

  • Decrease in confidence or the way they feel about themselves

  • Thinking of their body as bad or dirty

  • Losing interest in school, friends, hobbies, or things they used to love

(Arévalo et al., 2014; Mayo Clinic Child and Family Advocacy Center, n.d.; Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, n.d.-a; Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, n.d.-b; Stop It Now, n.d.)


If you are a parent, caregiver, or concerned community member and you think a child may be the victim of abuse, you must act quickly. If you believe the child is in immediate danger, call the police. If there is not an immediate danger, file a report with Child Protective Services (CPS), which will trigger an investigation. By filing a report with CPS, you are starting a process where professionals who are trained to identify abuse will investigate and determine if a child is being abused or neglected. Mandated reporters are also required to file a written report with CPS within 72 hours. Mandated reporters should follow the rules and regulations for mandated reporters before following any other policy set forth by any employer or organization in which they volunteer.



The ChildHelp National Hotline has been around for 40 years. They have counselors available to talk through child abuse situations if you have questions or need additional support. They can also help research additional resources that may be available to you.

If you click on their website, there is a giant map. And on that map if you hover or click, there is the states CPS number and online reporting link.




If yourself or someone else is dealing with abuse, there is nothing wrong with seeking help.



Call your state's CPS Hotline or anonymously submit a referral online.



National Domestic Violence Hotline:

Available 24 Hours A Day/7 Days A Week

Available in English Spanish, and MORE! Interpretation Services are available.

1-800-799-7233









If you can relate to this submitted story, comment and share your own #WWHHW moment.

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