Author: Duncan Riach, Ph.D.

I have been wanting to write this article for a long time, but I have held off because this subject is so taboo. Since I don’t adhere
to the socially acceptable position of “They should just be punished!” I have feared that by writing as truthfully as I can about
the sexual abuse of children, some people will completely misinterpret my words, label me as a “pedophile sympathizer,” and
then try to attack me.

This article challenges and up-ends some deeply held, unconscious beliefs that our society uses to maintain its current non-adaptive homeostasis in regard to child abuse. It may be both intriguing and disturbing to read.

I’m writing this article now because I care deeply about the wellbeing of all people, especially children, and I want to actually help to end this nightmare. I don’t hate child molesters—I don’t hate anyone—but I do think we need to address the real issues and bring an end to child molestation. If my actions to protect children lead to negative repercussions for me personally, then so be it. This has to be said.

There has been a continual stream of scandals related to the sexual abuse of children, and the most recent one to hit my Facebook newsfeed, and that prompted me to write this article, was the USA Gymnastic sex abuse scandal. Larry Nassar, a former USA Gymnastics national team doctor, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for sexually assaulting girls as young as 13. One of the victims claimed that he started abusing her when she was six-years-old.

It seems that most people don’t know how pervasive the sexual abuse of children is in our society. According to the organization Darkness to Light, about one in 10 children will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday.

As a clinical psychologist in training, I estimated that somewhere between 70% and 90% of my patients were sexually abused as children. In addition, there are many people in my personal life who have revealed to me that they were sexually abused as children. Because of this, I suspect that the number of people in the population who were sexually abused as children is probably much higher than 10%. I think that, because of shame, many people never reveal to others what happened to them.

Many people do not want to acknowledge the problem we’re dealing with, and they turn a blind eye to it, often literally. This is exactly what happened in the gymnastics scandal. Girls were telling their parents and other adults what was happening to them, but nobody believed them. Presumably, this was because it would have shattered people’s idea of reality. This beloved and respected medical doctor was, in fact, sexually abusing their children. The denial was so extreme that even when he sexually assaulted girls in front of their own parents, the parents did not believe it.

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