If it is difficult to understand why a victim would wait 16 years to come forward about a sexual assault, psychologists have an explanation. As psychotherapist Gigi Colombini shares in WXYZ’s coverage of the case against Livonia soccer coach Jeff Bobo, a victim may wonder, “Am I doing something wrong?… It’s confusing because they trust [the predator].” These blurred lines between trusted adult and sexual predator create shame, which can take years to confront.
Bill Seikaly believes adults may enhance this issue of shame by the way some react to a troubling situation. As Seikaly shares in this video, “Every single case I’ve ever had, some adult, someplace, knew something and didn’t say something.” When adults do not speak up on behalf of children, the children, in turn, lack the understanding and the courage to come forward themselves and tell their story.
See Something, Say Something
We need to cultivate a trusting community for our children. Part of that is knowing the warning signs of sexual misconduct. Some of the common warning signs are:
- Physical signs of sexual trauma such as difficulty walking or sitting, and pain in the genital area
- Behavioral signs such as changes in personality, depression, self-harm, or unexplained fears
- Adult figures, particularly in private institutions, who have an inappropriately close personal relationship with a child
As the National Center for Victims of Crime states, other adults are often “complicit” by not speaking up. Predators can even win an adult’s trust by using the same charms and diverting tactics that led to abuse in the first place.
Since the case against the soccer coach Jeff Bobo has made news, several adults have come forward to finally say something in defense of “Elizabeth”. Remember, it’s never too late to speak up, either as a victim or as a witness. It is also vital to recognize that, above all else, the child is always the victim and needs support no matter when they decide to come forward.