I am so grateful the whole family is getting counseling. The fact that the 15 year old chose as she did regarding her step-sister, is an indicator that there may have been issues within the family to start with.
Like others have written, the fact that the 7 year old went along out of concern for her older sister, is what makes this so much more sad. This is where one could get hung up in self-blame. “If only I hadn’t been concerned”, or “If only I hadn’t followed her because of my concern.” Once again I am so grateful she is getting help in healing from this.
Sexual trauma tends to go far deeper than any other form and without sufficient help, can have a profound impact on the body, mind and spirit. Victims tend to blame themselves for the actions of the perpetrator as if they were the cause for what happened, and this can create so much more harm as time passes. In addition, they may experience disgust at the offender for what they did, but also feel an overwhelming disgust with themselves and the perceived betrayal by their body. You see, our bodies are designed to become aroused by physical stimulation, it feels good so the body reacts by nature. The problem is, the victim understands on some level, no matter the age, that what they are experiencing is not right, and therefore it causes a conflict when physically the body becomes aroused while emotionally the person is suffering. On one hand their safety and often their trust is being betrayed, while on the other their body is responding as if this is acceptable. This conflict and betrayal within the trauma can create a belief that they are at least partially at fault since physically they were aroused and may have enjoyed it within the physical context. (This does not mean that the experience over-all was enjoyable or that they liked it; these experiences are never found to be enjoyed beyond the physical response.) What is called for here is a new or corrected understanding. The physically reactions they experienced while being victimized does not put them in control or make them responsible for the actions of another. Even if at first they consented to the contact and later changed their mind, this does not put them into a position of responsibility.
Further, there remains the possibility that the victim may take on blame believing that if they had done something different, acted differently, dressed differently, looked different… they could have changed the actions of another. Once again we must realize the victim is not the puppeteer for the offender. The perpetrator
would have made the same choice even if it involved someone different. This understanding also holds true for the non-offending partner or parent(s).
Where we see evidence of this mindset is when a little girl is, for example, told how beautiful she is while the offender is molesting her, and she starts to believe that if she wasn’t beautiful, then this wouldn’t be happening to her. As a result, she may go out of her way to hide her beauty by wearing baggy clothes, lots of make-up, taking poor care of herself physically and emotionally, and maybe going as far as cutting herself (which can also be a form of self-punishment for her self-blame). All this results in a extremely poor self-image, destroying her self-esteem and creating the possibility of self-loathing.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, but victims have been known to suddenly revert to acting a younger age, sometimes a much younger, which includes starting to wet the bed or their pants after already being successfully potty trained, suddenly having anger outbursts, or even become withdrawn, and they may become clingly well after they have moved beyond that stage of development.
In addition to the above, the long-term effects, if left unresolved, can include self-mutilation, associating love with sexual use of their body by others, abusive relationships, becoming a perpetrator themselves, anger issues, chronic depression, manic-depressive disorder, risky behavior, and suicide.
Now on the other side of the fence, I know that from the adult perspective it is easy to judge the teen perpetrators with the belief that they should have known better, the reality is at that age you don’t fully comprehend the impact and repercussions of your choices. It really is about “my needs and wants” at that age. They too are going to need help in healing from the crime they committed.
Please understand, I am not condoning their behavior, or in any way suggesting they shouldn’t take responsibility for their actions and accept the resulting consequences; rather, I am acknowledging I have a greater understanding and compassion for them through my work in energy medicine, energy psychology and spiritual healing.
It can be said that the choices of the teenagers involved were influenced by past traumas of their own, as well as direct or indirect peer-pressure. This doesn’t let anyone off the hook, after-all they made a choice that tends to deeply impact everyone negatively; causing a great deal of pain, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
While I believe adults should know better and as a result be held accountable for their actions in a greater way, I also know they too may act out of a younger part brought about by their own traumas. Once again I am leaving room for a greater understanding of their actions. Nobody is being let off the hook.