Parents of children who have experienced sexual abuse reach out to us often wanting to share their experience so that other parents can learn and hopefully spare their children.
These parents are overwhelmed with guilt - but in a world where abuse prevention education receives so little attention and funding - most parents are not even given the opportunity to be educated. There is a certain sense of shock and anger when these parents learn after the fact, how many children are being sexually abused, and what little is being done to prevent it.
Help us raise awareness and prevent abuse by sharing this post with your family and friends so that we can hopefully avoid this from happening to another family.
1. "To Talk About Body Safety Early."
When is a good time to start talking about it? How about before you even give birth. Talk with your spouse or partner about the issues. Research daycare facilities and their training and procedures for abuse prevention. Talk with your family about the issues and see how much they know and what they think. It is not helpful when you are trying to promote body safety if you have extended family forcing hugs, using made up names for genitalia, or acting like it's 'impossible' for abuse to happen in the family. Children are best protected when they are surrounded by adults that are educated, vigilant, and prepared to take action.
You'll find it's not scary or overwhelming if you start early and gradually educate your child in age-appropriate ways.
2. "Using Proper Words is a Big Deal."
3." Stranger Danger Is Not The Same As Sexual Abuse."
And be vigilant for child on child abuse. As much as 40% of abuse is perpetrated by older/stronger siblings and peers - and not just 'playing doctor' kind of curiosity, but sexually motivated manipulation and exploitation.
When we refer to people that touch privates as 'bad' this can confuse children - most offenders are known, trusted, nice, and often loved by the child. They are less prepared to expect this behavior from someone they know and it can make it difficult for them to get away or tell someone.
4. "I Thought Abuse Would Always Hurt."
So, just tell them - that it can feel good to touch their privates, but only they should be touching their own privates, and only out of sight of others - like in the bathroom or in bed alone. Don't let their ignorance be used against them.
5. "I Only Talked About Yelling and Telling."
Children should not feel guilty for being too afraid to get away from their perpetrator. This is actually how many adults are raped - by fear and shock that a person they thought they could trust turns into their perpetrator.
Let your child know that it's not their job to stop or avoid abuse - that their only job is to TELL. If it happened once or multiple times, they only have to tell, that it's not their fault.
6. "I Didn't Know What to Look For. I Didn't Think It Would Actually Happen."
Teaching body safety is great. It's necessary. But so is educating ourselves and all the other adults in our child's life.
7. "I thought Professionals Were Doing They Most They Could To Protect Children."
8. "I Thought Reporting Was Going To Solve The Problem."
Furthermore, when a report of abuse is made by a parent and the perpetrator has or can fight for custody of the child, there is mounting evidence that child protective services and family court judges are likely to suspect the report was made vindictively and that the child may have been 'coached' to say they are being abused.
These protective parents often fall into bankruptcy, lose custody of their children and even sent to jail for continuing to stand by their report of abuse.
Each case is unique, and there is no correct answer that we can provide for knowing what your outcome will be, but our best advice is to reach out to a privately run advocacy or rape crisis center for advice before reporting and do your research on the issues of child sexual abuse in family court.
9. "I Thought People Would Support Us."
Just about every survivor or supporter of a survivor that has reached out to us has expressed their pain in being rejected by family that refused to believe them or did believe but were angry at them for reporting and speaking out. It's their weakness and they will defend it to protect their illusion of reality. If you haven't experienced this, consider yourself very fortunate. If you have - be sure to know that you are not alone.
What is Sexual Abuse
5 Ways to Deter A Pedophile
Red Flags of Predators
Why Survivors Wait to Tell
Free Body Safety Coloring Page
Educational Materials for Distribution
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