Have you ever wondered why some people fall victim of sexual abuse more than once? Finding myself in this category—I asked myself how could it have happened again? I was a childhood victim of incest, and then at the age of thirteen, I was date raped. Later in life, I was sexually harassed by a college professor. And, I’ve been involved in relationships throughout my life with emotionally abusive men.
Being a victim more than once is called revictimization. Many of these victims feel like they have a sign on their backs that reads, “here I am — abuse me.” First, and foremost, it is not the fault of the victim if they are revictimized. Sexually abused people have dirt-low, self-esteem, often blame themselves for the abuse, and do not understand the proper boundaries of a healthy relationship. We come to believe that love is about violence and pain. This is especially true of incest victims—they develop very negative understandings of what it is to be loved by someone. We learn love is a fearful, painful, and a violent experience. We have not been exposed to a healthy relationship with all the necessary boundaries. We almost expect violence in our lives; making it difficult to recognize a dangerous situation. The old tapes in our heads run saying, it was my fault, I’m worthless, if I was only good enough; love is painful, but I crave it, etc. We do not see ourselves as having a right to choose what type relationship or person we will be involved with.
Victims learn they have no control over what happens to them. Therefore, professional counseling is needed to reprogram what has been so deeply ingrained in us. The likelihood of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) victims being revictimized is doubled that of the general population and, incestuous victims are two-thirds more likely to be raped. At a sub-conscious level, victims tend to recreate relationships that are very similar to their childhood traumas; hoping to correct that first relationship. While it will never work; we keep trying nonetheless.
These are the things that make it impossible to “get over it and get on with your life.” Without professional counseling to intervene, abuse is all we know, and that’s all that we deserve.
As for the pedophile that is responsible for this train-wreck of a life—on an average spend eleven years behind bars for the life they’ve destroyed. And most pedophiles are never reported and receive nothing for their crimes. One pedophiles’ victims range in number from 60-260 victims in their lifetime! It is a sad situation for an incest victim to wonder in their fifties, if they would have been better off had their abuser killed them in childhood. I’ll be the first to admit, “life is not fair,” however, our judicial system seems less than fair to the victims that lose the life that might have been had they not been abused. And that is a very difficult thing to accept.