Karen Hoving, Ph.D.
Karen Hoving, Ph.D.
I was never a fan of the show 19 and Counting on TLC, but I have spent a large amount of my training and time as a Ph.D. Psychotherapist working with Adults and Children that were sexually abused. Many parents that come to me when they find out that one of their children was abused by a family member, teacher or friend are most horrified about why they didn’t know what the symptoms of sexual abuse are. Most assumed that if anything happened to their children, the kiddoes would tell.
Sadly, most children don’t tell for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the perpetrator has groomed them not to, told them that “this is what all children do with adults”, or they threaten them that if they tell anyone they will injure or hurt their parents or family members. So they don’t tell. I don’t know what happened in this family, all we are told is that 4 of the 5 children he molested were his sisters. Apparently someone saw him coming out of a child’s room and then everything went as wrong as it can be. They protected the abused, and didn’t protect the victims.
I also wonder if CPS has interviewed Josh’s daughter’s. Of course with this large of a family I’m sure that everyone was told not to talk, possibly because of the loss of income if it got out and TLC did what they ended up doing taking the show off the air. So, there are many victims in this family apparently none getting any help. And why? Well it’s that familiar “Statue of Limitations” excuse. To be honest, I don’t think that there should be a statute of limitations when it comes to sexual abuse. Some individuals never repress but never tell until it is safe. Others repress until they have children themselves, or if their children are abused by a family member and suddenly their own memory floodgates fly open.
When parents find out that their child has been abused and I become involved I try to explain that sadly when mom and dad leave the hospital with a new bundle of joy no one gives them a pamphlet about behaviors that occur that mean you should immediately go to the pediatrician and find out if something is awry. These behaviors often seem so common that no one assumes that they could be the child shrieking “SOME ONE IS TOUCHING ME. HELP ME! I DON’T HAVE THE WORDS AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND!”
Some children start having tantrums or behavioral changes for no reason, and a parent or friend suggests it’s AD/HD. So what are these behaviors? Sometimes children that are being abused suddenly start wetting the bed or break potty training. They may have nightmares or night terrors. They may become very hyper sexual with other children touching them inappropriately . Now the children that do this are often quite young – they aren’t consciously molesting other children. They are acting out what has been explained that is normal by their abuser. Some children excessively masturbate. Some children complain that it hurts when they urinate, or if they are in diapers you may notice redness in their diaper area, or blood in the diaper.
If your child suddenly refuses to see a person that they used to enjoy being with pay attention! Ask what is going on, if they deny anything I would just keep them away from them for a while. Sure it may be that they just had a fight, but see how they feel if you keep them away from the babysitter, Uncle, friend, or whomever.
Now please note: all of these behaviors can occur in absolutely healthy children. But if you start seeing a pattern I believe it is better to be safe than sorry. Remember, every child is different but if things change dramatically don’t just stuff Ritalin down their throats. Talk to them-if they are shut down take them to the pediatrician for a check up. But remember, often there aren’t any physical signs especially in very young children.
Pedophiles tend to groom the child slowly so they won’t tell. They start just having them sit on their lap, maybe touching them in a safe place and work up to more aggressive things. Many parents find out something has happened because they get the infamous knock on the door by Children’s Protective Services. Often the school has overheard the child tell someone, or has seen the child abusing another child. Sometimes, mom goes into denial when they tell her. And I get it. No one wants to be the mom that didn’t know that was going on! But remember, it isn’t your fault – if you didn’t know, if you didn’t see, then don’t beat yourself up.But please, learn the symptoms. The way psychologists define sexual abuse is anything that is seen, felt our experienced of a sexual nature.
I’m sure that many people who saw this nice Christian family on TV never thought that one of those children was a pedophile which also suggests that someone may have abused him (it is a cycle but as I said, I have no information on this case except what has been out in the media). And as the news has mentioned the father was running for Senate after catching his son molesting one of the daughters and he ran on a platform of demanding the death penalty for abusers. Many feel this was a way to take the attention away from what was going on in his own home.
Here are some sites that give you specific detailed information. I know you are probably thinking “this would never happen in my family, or to my child.”What I can guarantee is that every person that had a child abused felt exactly that way. NOT MY CHILD. So my advice is again, it’s better to be aware of the signs in hopes that you will never need this information maybe you won’t but one of your friends might need this information.Please take some time and read these sites. Become an expert and hope you never ever need to know this information.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr Karen Hoving is a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from The Union Institute in 1996. She works in Aurora, Colorado, south of Denver. She specializes in PTSD (trauma from abuse), Depression, and Anxiety. Go to her website to find out exactly what areas she specializes in www.drkahoving.com .