25 November marks the beginning of the worldwide 16 Days of Activism Against Violence. On this occasion, the Council of Europe project "Combating violence against children in Ukraine" recalls the video "Start to talk", which is available in Ukrainian.
"Start to Talk" is a Council of Europe campaign to end child sexual abuse in sports. To stop sexual abuse, it is necessary to understand the factors that increase the vulnerability of children. Sexual violence thrives when there is tolerance for discrimination, physical violence and inappropriate sexual behavior. Imbalanced power relations, authoritarian leadership and rewards structures create relationships based on fear and dependence and hence vulnerability to the abuse of power. The loss of “natural barriers” because of the physical contact required and the sharing of showers, changing rooms, and other necessary facilities with adults also expose children and adolescents to sexual violence. And of course, there is the scandal avoidance by organisations and individuals who prefer to hide the abuse, thus sacrifying the victim and giving the abuser a licence to harm.
The impact of sexual abuse can be devastating and last a lifetime. It may take a long time for children who have been sexually assaulted to talk about what happened to them. And in some cases, children carry this terrible secret through their lives. Research shows that one in three victims will never tell anyone. Research data also shows that approximately one in five children in Europe is sexually abused. At the same time, about 80% of abusers are in the circle of trust of the child. Fear, shame and guilt are paralysing feelings. Very young children may not recognise the abuse, while teenagers may believe they are in a “relationship”. Love for the sport they practise, peer pressure, taboos around sexuality and admiration for their coach, trap children in a very painful silence.
Sexual abuse and harassment can be prevented! “Start to talk” is about adults breaking the silence and lending children a voice. “Start to talk” is a Council of Europe call for action to public authorities and the sport movement to stop child sexual abuse.
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