As a child, I thought my parents coined the proverbial expression, “Silence is golden.” Among healthy adults, the expression is often a social teaching aid to promote healthy communication. Appropriate silence is a cooperative communication practice that allows another person to speak without interruption. This bedrock of healthy intimate relationships enables people freely to exchange experiences, observations, information, beliefs, and emotions.
Comparatively, the deviant promotes silence to conceal his identity, prior violent acts, and intention to injure others. In addition, silence isolates the deviant’s casualties. Collectively, this transforms silence to a toxin. As a toxin, silence is the bedrock of dysfunctional relationships and healthcare risks that plague adults exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) (1). The ACE study also showed breaking the silence to reveal ACE incidents and still feeling accepted by another human being significantly reduced return visits to a healthcare provider.
A static variable is something that is unchanging or constant. For instance, in today’s worldwide society, exposure to social-sexual deviance takes place daily. And, once an exposure occurs, the exposure event is a fixed or static variable.
A dynamic variable is changeable or fluid. Silence, for the purposes of this conversation, means the inability to tell anybody about one’s exposure to social-sexual deviance and subsequent disruptions to one’s adjustment. Whether a person uses silence to manage exposure to social-sexual deviance exposure is a dynamic or changeable variable.
Intrusive Thoughts means unwanted social-sexual deviance exposure related memories that are disruptive to one’s daily social/sexual adjustment. Intrusive thoughts are dynamic or changeable.
Silently harboring one’s exposure to social-sexual deviance as a child, adolescent, adult or professional increases one’s vulnerability to intrusive thoughts. Auditory, olfactory, visual and tactile cues can trigger the intrusive thoughts and associated emotions.
- Acknowledge societal silence and mythology about social-sexual deviance enables deviance to proliferate and increases child health threats.
- Confront the issue by talking with your family and friends about social-sexual deviance. Consider the challenges you experience talking to others about child maltreatment.
- Treat societal immaturity by using appropriate language to talk about violence, deviance and human anatomy. Assure your child can receive formal sex education. Assure your community CSA professionals receive training prior to their first case assignment.
Child molestation is a violent act that a social-sexual deviant commits. A serial child molester is not a wolf or any other apex predator. Characterizing a serial child molester as a “lone wolf” is a media disservice. An apex predator is a vital ecosystem member. The serial child molester does not contribute to our ecosystem in an equivalent manner.
Uneducated or misinformed children are more vulnerable to exploitation than children properly educated about human anatomy and healthy adult-child relationships. All human body parts have an anatomical name. Would you ever consider teaching a child to use the word “publics” to speak about fingers? Of course not! As healthy mature adults, let us strive to replace the word “privates” with anatomically correct words.
Far too many CSA professionals receive their first case assignment without specialized training (3). Despite the accumulating evidence that this practice accelerates burnout and compromises professional competency (4), the practice appears constant over the last twenty years. As healthy adults, let us protect this social resource and assure specialized training precedes first case assignment.
Clearly these three communication changes will not eliminate social-sexual deviance. However, the actions can help identify a social-sexual deviant, reduce the role silence plays in aggravating traumatic injuries, and protect those who protect our children.
1. Felitti, V. J., & Anda, R. F. The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Medical Disease, Psychiatric Disorders, and Sexual Behavior: Implications for Healthcare. [ed.] R. Lanius & E. Vermetten. The Hidden Epidemic: The Impact of Early Life Trauma on Health and Disease. s.l. : Cambridge University Press, 2009.
2. Emerick, R. L. Preliminary Findings of the Sexual Trauma Inventory. Portland, Oregon : s.n., 1992. 11th Annual Conference on the Assessment and Treatment of Sexual Abusers.
3. Emerick, R. L. Silent Injuries Part I. Crime Victims Report. 1302, May/June 2009.
4. Maslach C, & Leiter M. The truth about burnout: how organizations cause personal stress and what to do about it. San Francisco : Jossey-Bass, 1998.
5. Zona, G. A. The Soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears – and other Native American proverbs. New York : Touchstone, 1994.