I related to a recent article on children in other countries being forced to marry and obey much older men. The headline read: The terrifying world of child brides: Devastating images show girls young enough to be in pre-school who are married off to older men
This disgusts many Americans and we don’t understand why other countries allow this sort of child abuse. We don’t understand how parents allow their young daughters to be forced into servitude and sexual acts at such a young age. However, I pose this question: is it very different from Americans turning a blind eye to childhood sexual abuse in our own American homes? Truly, the only difference is that it’s marriage to an older man.
In my eyes, having lived a childhood of unimaginable abuse of every type at the hands of my father—mental, emotional, physical, and sexual—I believe the trauma and end result is the same. In my home, I either obeyed my father’s every whim or I got beaten and raped. In these other countries, the young brides must be submissive and pleasing or they get beaten and raped.
The affect on the child, whether it’s happening on the other side of the world, or in our own country under a different guise, is just the same. Their options for any sort of a free life are cut off at the knees.
So many times we, in this country, take on the causes and problems of others, elsewhere in the world, yet we forget to hear the cries of our own children here in America. We need to figure out how to help the children in this country and set the example for other countries to follow. Only then can we truly hope to make a change in the way young children, here and abroad, are treated. Children the world over should have the freedom to “just” be children—to be allowed to laugh and play and not to be forced into servitude and sex, especially long before their bodies are mature, or before they are old enough to understand what that big person is doing to them and why.
We adults, the world over, need to recognize how easily damaged a child can be. If their psyches are tilted by premature sexualization, violence and extreme dominance from a very early age, it’s a hard road to come back to center. Many, unfortunately, never will. I hope that, by telling my story in my upcoming book–Fear of Our Father–and evolving my proposed program—Amnesty From Abuse—that I can help to make a difference. My co-author Lisa Bonnice and I are developing a program that helps broken people find their way back to where they could have been, had they not been pushed off the path to a healthy and functional life. Won’t you visit our Facebook page and “Like” us?
Stacey M. Kananen
Advocate, Author, Abuse survivor
Co-founder of Amnesty From Abuse
Stacey Kananen’s father violently and sexually abused his entire family. He vanished in 1988 and 15 years later his wife went missing. Stacey’s brother had killed both parents. Stacey cooperated as a witness until he told police that she helped him with the crimes. She was arrested and her trial, which aired on CNN’s In Session, ended with a not guilty verdict after her attorney proved that she had been railroaded.
Now that her personal life is no longer private, Stacey is using her story to make waves. She and co-author Lisa Bonnice have signed a publishing deal with Berkley Books. They created the Amnesty From Abuse program to address the dynamic that stops families from asking for help: fear, shame and hopelessness. She states, “If a program like this existed during my childhood, both parents would be alive, my brother would not be in jail and my family would have been spared years of anguish and terror.”
Fear of Our Father – Berkley Books, 2013
Emmy nominated BBC Documentary: America’s Child Death Shame