Phoebe never really had a childhood. “I came into this world a bit small, a bit early, and out of a seriously messed up woman,” Phoebe says. “She would go on to try to kill me saying ‘It would be better for everyone if I died’ and ‘I was the devil’s child.” Phoebe would suffer years of sexual abuse before finding freedom.
Childhood in Fostercare
Phoebe went into foster care with a man, Richard, and his wife, Judy. “I was maybe 7 years old the first time. I had this little barbie radio in my bedroom and couldn’t sleep. I had turned it on to some rock station but had left the volume low. He came in the room that night and grabbed me by the throat and held me against the wall by my throat while yelling about me being awake. I remember hitting the dresser and I still have a scar on my chest from it but it goes black after. When I regained consciousness he was on top of me.”
Phoebe tried to report. She talked to one of the guidance counselors at her school; they called Richard and asked him to come in. She was called out of lunch to go to the guidance counselor’s office. Richard was sitting there. They asked her to repeat what she said. Phoebe said she’d made it up, and left.
The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) website says that “In FY16 alone, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated, or found strong evidence to indicate that, 57,329 children were victims of sexual abuse.” Darkness to Light says that “about one in ten children will be abused before their eighteenth birthday.” Child sexual abuse and assault is a very real problem. “Only 38% [of survivors] disclose… some never disclose,” Darkness to Light says.
There’s a real concern that the pandemic will make sexual abuse harder to detect; children are out of school and potentially spending more time with their abuser, and less with caring adults like teachers. I e-mailed a local school social worker to ask if they had a plan. He never replied.
There Is Help
If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, there is hope. You can reach out to 1in6.org (male survivors), RAINN.org, or your local sexual assault resource center (find it at centers.rainn.org).