One of the most painful questions for victims of sexual assaults perpetrated years previously is, “Why did you wait so long to come forward?”
Sometimes, this line of interrogation goes hand-in-hand with the suggestion that, because they were so young, they may have “imagined” the assaults, or may be remembering events incorrectly.
Additionally, there are the accusations that the publicity given to sexual assaults – particularly on children – in recent years, has prompted many to “believe” they were abused and to adapt events to fit.
The sceptics point to the #MeToo movement as being a spur to women, particularly, to either invent charges of assault against prominent men, or to see things “out of context” and interpret them as assaults.
However, our horrifying story today about the ongoing alleged sexual abuse of a young girl – at the hands of a pastor and one of her own family members – should give us all pause for thought.
She kept the story to herself for many years but has now gone to the police and gone public.
The reality is that young victims of rape and sexual abuse find it almost impossible to comprehend what has happened to them. In addition, many are frightened about what the adult world might do to them if they speak out.
The deep psychological scars of the assault – which is often accompanied by emotional blackmail – mean there are many survivors whose lives are turned upside down for decades. Some never recover.
It takes great courage to come forward with allegations like this – and people who do so deserve support, not scepticism or condemnation.
The more people speak out and the more they demand justice, the sooner these predators can be stopped in their tracks.