Misconception: Child abusers are usually strangers, deranged misfits who abduct children and use physical force to abuse them.
In the vast majority of cases
Misconception: Children fantasize or lie about sexual abuse.
Under normal circumstances children lack the experience or sophistication in sexual matters to invent explicit claims of abuse, although some small children may become confused about details. Even the most skeptical of researchers agree that most claims of abuse are valid. Consider the book Sex Abuse Hysteria
Misconception: Children are seductive and frequently bring the abuse on themselves by their conduct.
This notion is particularly warped, since, in effect, it blames the victim for the abuse. Children have no real concept of sexuality. They have no idea of what such activity implies or of how it will change them. They are therefore incapable of consenting to it in any meaningful way. It is the abuser, and the abuser alone, who bears the blame for the abuse.
Misconception: When children disclose abuse, parents should teach them to refrain from talking about it and to ‘put it behind them.’
Who is best served if the child keeps silent about the abuse? Is it not the abuser? In fact, studies have shown that denial with emotional suppression may be the least effective way to deal with the trauma of abuse. Of the nine coping methods used by one group of adult survivors studied in England, the ones who denied, avoided, or suppressed the issue suffered the greater emotional maladjustment and distress in adult life. If you experienced a terrifying assault, would you want to be told not to talk about it? Why tell a child such a thing? Allowing the child the normal reaction to such a terrible event, such as grief, anger, mourning, will give him the opportunity eventually to put the abuse in the past.
^ par. 5 In some divorce cases, contending adults have been known to use an accusation of child abuse as a weapon.