One in six boys under 18 are sexually molested ... here's how to help and protect your family.
49-year-old actor Tom Arnold's newest role as a sexual molester in his new movie "Gardens of the Night" hits close to home. He says it's his attempt to finally put his own past as a sexually abused child behind him.
Arnold says that from ages four to seven, while growing up in Ottumwa, Iowa, he was sexually abused by a 19-year-old male babysitter. "[The abuse] started shortly before I turned four," he tells People. "This guy would babysit me three or four times a week. He wanted me to play a game, and he wanted me to learn it so I could play it every time. I knew it was weird and I was scared, but I didn't know what sex was."
What can you do if your husband reveals he was sexually abused? What's the best way to handle it? Momlogic spoke with Mark Douglass, a sexual abuse survivor and author of
Flashbacks of Abuse: How a Machine Gun Toting Sociopath Freed Me From the Chains of My Childhood for his perspective.
• Don't blame the victim - One common question people ask is "Why didn't you tell someone or break away?" But that's applying the adult model to a kid's brain, which just isn't fair. Molesters are master manipulators and know how to keep kids quiet. My abuser told me that for $300, he could have me killed and no one would ever find out. He also used a cattle prod on me from time to time.
• Try to ease his fears - Men who finally admit their abuse are worried they're going to be branded as gay or as weak. Just because he was abused by a man does not mean he is a homosexual.
• Remember that this doesn't mean he'll be an abuser, too - 98% of men who were molested never abuse anyone else. But men who were sexually abused are often terrified they will be branded as a molester, or that their kids might be taken away.
• Don't be offended he hid this from you - Most men who were abused never tell. It's a secret they live with their whole lives. I speak around the country about my experiences so that other men can come out of the closet and admit they were abused, and go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
• Encourage him to get therapy - The right therapist can help him explore those hidden, painful feelings and make him realize none of this was his fault, and he is in no way to blame.
Unfortunately, one in six boys under the age of 18 in this country will be the victims of sexual abuse. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, here are five signs moms should watch out for...
* unusual interest in or avoidance of all things of a sexual nature
* sleep problems or nightmares
* depression or withdrawal from friends or family
* refusal to go to school
* statements that their bodies are dirty or damaged, or fear that there is something wrong with them in the genital area
If your child is displaying any of these signs, talk to a counselor or pediatrician immediately.
Were you or your child the victim of sexual abuse? Share your story below.