I watch child pornography to prosecute sex crimes. The kids’ silence is deafening.

I need to warn you about this post…I read it and it disturbed me for days. The memories it brought back, I still feel sick to my stomach, but it is all so true..so disgustingly and horrifically true.

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The article is by Sarah Chang. The artwork by Gérard DuBois.

 

During my first week as a federal prosecutor of sexual abuse crimes against children, one of my colleagues told me her chief coping mechanism: Turn the sound off when you have to watch a video multiple times. This advice scared me. I imagined children screaming, crying and shrieking in pain — the stuff of nightmares.

My office is responsible for investigating and prosecuting such crimes, namely the production, possession and trafficking of child pornography. My first case file contained multiple CDs and DVDs showing a young girl being sexually abused by her father, who filmed his crimes with a handheld camera. Despite my colleague’s warning, I knew I couldn’t remain deaf during my first pass at the evidence. I went to our forensic computer lab and braced myself.

But all I heard was silence. The 5-year-old girl said nothing — not even a sob. Disturbed, I continued to watch each video with the sound on. I tried to beat back the silence by turning the volume up as high as it could go. The quiet was too deafening, too defeating to accept. Surely, these children must make a sound?

But in video after video, I witnessed silent suffering. I later learned that this is a typical reaction of young sexual abuse victims. Psychiatrists say the silence conveys their sense of helplessness, which also manifests in their reluctance to report the incidents and their tendency to accommodate their abusers. If children do disclose their abuse, their reports are often ambivalent, sometimes followed by a complete retraction and a return to silence.

The helplessness these children feel is rooted in the breach of trust they’ve experienced. Often, their abusers are people they expected would protect them. More than 80 percent of sexual abuse offenses against children are committed by people they know — parents, relatives, day-care providers and other trusted adults, according to the Justice Department. Studies show that children in those cases, particularly those abused by a parental figure, are more likely to recant their stories of abuse, if they report them at all.

If you are able to read the complete article, I would encourage you to do so, if it has started to many triggers, then you have been given the gist of it…thank you for what you do Sarah.

T.A.

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