A responsible and diligent student, Alejandro* was 15 years old when he was sexually molested by a teacher at his school, who used manipulative behaviour and an excuse of ‘punishment’ to take advantage of his position of power. As he waits for the court case to be heard, Alejandro has been supported by the Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse (CPTCSA) in the Philippines, a member organisation of Family for Every Child.
One day, after completing a task requested by his teacher, Alejandro was told that he had done it wrong. He’d been asked to make space for a school display by taking an old one down, but the teacher told him that he’d thrown the wrong thing away.
As a result, the teacher took away his school ID, an essential piece of documentation for students in the Philippines.
Alejandro apologised to the teacher, but his apology was rejected.
Vulnerability and manipulation
Instead of accepting the student’s apology, the teacher took advantage of the situation by telling Alejandro that he would get his ID back in exchange for letting him kiss him and touch his genitals. Alejandro unwillingly agreed, only later realising what had happened.
Thankfully, Alejandro had enough of an awareness of sexual abuse to know that the situation was wrong. He reported the incident to his social studies teacher shortly afterwards. The school principal called the teacher for an explanation, but he refused to give one. With support from the principal, his case was reported to the police.
The investigation of the case began. The teacher did not deny the kissing, but asserted that it was part of forgiving Alejandro’s behaviour, like a kiss between father and son.
Confusion and disruption
Luckily Alejandro’s case was taken seriously, but the consistent denial of wrongdoing by the teacher has disrupted his social and school life. He suffered from confusion about gender roles, worries about his own sexuality, feelings of powerlessness and shame, stress and anxiety. He feels that, until the court case ends, he will not have closure.
As Alejandro’s case awaited trial, he was referred to CPTCSA for psychological support. This, alongside support from his family, friends and school, has helped him to get through a difficult period in his life.
Providing tools to live well post-abuse
CPTCSA have been working with Alejandro to strengthen his mental and emotional resilience as he awaits the court date. Because of services such as these, Alejandro has been able to cope with the difficult situation he has been facing.
CPTCSA has been working to help Alejandro deal with his intrusive thoughts that have been disrupting his life, with techniques such as self-reinforcement, self-talk and self-instruction.
In addition, he has learned about:
- What will happen in court, so he has a better understanding of the legal procedures he will face and is better able to tell his story.
- Homophobia, homosexuality and the myths surrounding them.
- Gender roles and stereotypes.
- How to perceive situations of safety and a lack of safety.
- How to identify high-risk situations in the future.
The experience with CPTCSA has helped Mario to start to move on after his abuse, without losing sight of his studies and social life.
Supporting other children like Alejandro
Alejandro has been able to access the help and support he needs in order to move on with his life in a positive way, but many children do not have this opportunity. In fact, in many countries, there are no services at all that support boys to recover from sexual violence of any form, and little acknowledgement that it exists. This is why the work of organisations like CPTCSA, in conjunction with awareness and education for professionals and caregivers, is so vital.
The worry about gender roles that Alejandro experienced, as well as a lack of awareness of sexual abuse of boys, means that they are less likely to disclose incidents such as these; and where they do, they can be met with a lack of understanding.
To improve the situation, CPTCSA has worked with the Filipino Department of Education to ensure that Personal Safety Lesson (PSL) teaching is part of all public school education in the country. PSL is a school and community-based preventative education program focused on child sexual abuse; and it is hoped that this will increase awareness of the issue on a nationwide scale.
CPTCSA has also now become one of the Family for Every Child member organisations encouraging others to sign up to the United For Boys Charter, a six-point set of commitments that can make preventing and recovering from sexual violence affecting boys a reality. By signing the Charter, organisations learn about the key principles that could help them tackle sexual violence affecting boys, and can access support from Family for Every Child to turn these principles into action.
To learn more about the United For Boys campaign, and to sign up on behalf of an organisation, visit www.familyforeverychild.org/unitedforboys.
The Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Sexual Abuse (CPTCSA) has been working for more than 20 years in the Philippines to provide therapeutic support to young perpetrators and survivors of child sexual abuse, and to train foster care providers for children who have been sexually abused. As one of the member organisations that make up Family for Every Child, they are sharing knowledge with other members around the world; learning from each other and strengthening the way they work.
*Names have been changed and photography is for illustrative purposes only.