Thank you for writing this. As hard as it is to read through all that evidence of suffering and cruelty, seeing all the horrifying statistics in one place is incredibly powerful, and I am glad that you took the time to collect and present it all so clearly and thoughtfully.
And as someone who has worked to investigate and prosecute child sexual abuse, I thank you in particular for highlighting the difference between the evidence people expect to see and the reality. Too often we run into “CSI syndrome,” where juries expect DNA evidence or certain types of injuries, and refuse to convict if they are not present. And of course, there are far too many juries — and relatives and communities — who don’t believe the testimony of the few children who are able to report their abusers. Because to believe the children’s testimony would mean having to admit that this isn’t a problem of other people in other places, but an atrocity committed by adults you know, against children you also know. It is always an uphill battle to convince people to see, as you put it, that the culture they live in is not the culture they think they live in.
Thank you for this piece, and for all your other writing in which you tell these children’s stories with eloquence and compassion. Thank you for educating people about the reality of the abuse they have survived, and how unbelievably common it is. And thank you for the work you do to protect, support, and help to heal the children in your care. I know you don’t do it for the thanks or recognition — but thank you.