Sexual Abuse in the Presence of Others

As Thanksgiving and Christmas are quickly approaching, I felt like I needed to share how abuse can happen despite being in the presence of other people. The National Child Traumatic Stress Network reports that “approximately three quarters of reported cases of child sexual abuse are committed by family members or other individuals who are considered part of the victim’s ‘circle of trust.” I know it is hard to imagine anyone in your family or extended circle of trust harming your child, but it has happened too many times to too many people and we can’t ignore this any longer.

I believe many people have the misconception that sexual abuse can only occur behind closed doors or when the abuser is alone with their victim. It’s interesting that I started this post the other night and today while scrolling through twitter, I saw a very similar post. We sometimes have the thought “well no one will try to do anything with so many people around watching.” Unfortunately, this is not the case. Abuse can happen in your presence and abusers are so powerful in their manipulation skills that no one will be wiser. 

There were many times my abuser was brazen enough to abuse me in the presence of others. Some evenings when I was a child, we would sit around and watch television together in the living room. It became expected of me to grab a quilt and sit in my abuser’s lap during what should have been a safe and innocent bonding time. He was bold enough to do this because he knew how much he had manipulated me. I was so fearful in those moments that I would sit and act as normal as possible while he abused me rather than pushing the quilt away and screaming. Sexual abuse occurred in the presence of others.

If you have children, I hope you will take the time to talk about body rights and healthy touch. Empower them. Give them the choice of whether or not to hug a family member. Maybe a handshake or high five is more comfortable for your child. If your child appears fearful or nervous around certain people, do not brush it off as shyness- ask questions. Fight through the discomfort this type of conversation may bring and have these necessary conversations now.

My intention is not to make you paranoid about every person your child comes into contact with, but to make you aware that abuse does happen in the presence of other people. It is not always isolated incidents.  And just because it is a holiday does not mean an abuser will abstain from abusing.

Children deserve to know their body rights at any age. There are age appropriate ways to have these conversations. It is never too early to empower children.


9 thoughts on “Sexual Abuse in the Presence of Others

  1. Kristyn November 18, 2016 / 11:49 am

    Such an important reminder as we move into the holidays. Your bravery is helping keep other kids safe. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mary November 18, 2016 / 2:27 pm

    Thank God holidays are safe and happy for you now. Away from the abuser… much blessings to you and have an amazing time wherever you are .. kisses and hugs :-*

    Liked by 1 person

  3. grace to survive November 18, 2016 / 8:08 pm

    I’m sorry you had to suffer that. Such a sweet, beautiful child…


  4. Carelia December 8, 2018 / 4:41 am

    I had no idea you were going through this when you were a little girl! This is so sad that happened to you. You probably don’t remember me, but you and your sister and brother used to play with my sons. Many blessings to you Kendall, to Kelly and Conor.


    • kendallw25 December 8, 2018 / 5:21 am

      Yes! I do remember you. I think I was in 2nd or 3rd grade- kernersville/Greensboro area. Air mattress burritos and eating at Ragazzis.


      • Carelia December 8, 2018 / 5:25 am

        Yay!! Omg, you have a great memory. I remember you all 5 kids behaving very well at the table. It’s nice to see you are in Nola. My sister and my nieces live there. I go often to see them. Maybe next time I go we can get together and have coffee at Magazine St. Say hello to David. I hope everybody else is doing good.


      • kendallw25 December 8, 2018 / 6:55 pm

        Yes I would love that. Please let me know when you are down again! Send me an email and I’ll send you my phone number:


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