MANILA, Nov. 29, 2014 — Many sexual abuse victims choose to suffer in silence and keep their experiences secret because sometimes, it involves an immediate family member.
According to Sr. Adel Abamo (SDS), Salvatorian Pastoral Care for Children (SPCC) executive director, many abused women and children are forced to keep silent because they lack support from family members, in some cases, mothers of the victims themselves.
“The denial on the part of the mother could be very deep, forcing the daughter to choose silence and grief,” she said. “It profoundly hurts the daughter.”
Abamo said some mothers deny the culpability of their husbands, causing their daughters to keep the incidents unresolved and unreported to authorities, sometimes, for more than a decade.
The victims hide such experiences manifest negative behaviors like irritability, fear, dejection, hopelessness and even mental breakdowns, she said.
Church as refuge
Abused women and children also find a refuge in the Church, Abamo said, noting a particular pattern based on the 13-year experience of child welfare advocates.
“Young people sexually and physically abused choose to open up to the church first than to government authorities,” she said,
According to Abamo, this is the case even if some parishes were unaware of cases of abused women and children under their jurisdiction until SPCC started providing orientations to parishioners, and conducting social investigations.
The SPCC has been good news to abused women and children since its the program began in 2001, she added. In the group, they have a refuge, she added, where they can unload their emotional baggage, regain hope, and rebuild their life.
Women and children programs
The abused are evaluated by SPCC’s social workers to determine their needs, they may also file criminal charges or seek temporary shelter, Abamo said.
Abamo, however, pointed out that many parish priests do not realize the importance of having a women and children welfare program in their parishes.
The parish should adopt it since abused women and children seek the church first to tap assistance before the government.
“We encourage every parish to set up welfare and protection program for children and women since abused do not go to the barangay to complain,” she noted.
Began by the Sisters of the Divine Savior in 2001, SPCC is currently adopted by six parishes in the Diocese of Novaliches and three in the Archdiocese of Cebu. (Oliver Samson/CBCPNews)