15 things to be aware of to protect your child from sexual abuse!
*** TRIGGER WARNING ***
Rape, Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse.
*Note: This is long due to the topic, for that reason; there is a recap of the 15 areas at the end of this post you can scroll to. To gain a better understanding and further insight, I advise reading the whole article.
My main intention is to promote awareness.
I’d like to share with you some things to be aware of so you may just be able to save a child, be it your child or another child of having to endure one of the worst things that could possibly happen to them, or heaven forbid, STOP it from continuing if you are unfortunately too late. (I pray this never occurs).
There are varying degrees of sexual abuse of course, and this is a hypothetical story about a young girl. This story is written from some of the things I know being a Survivor of child sexual abuse. I’ve written this story and scenarios, for you, the reader.
To help you understand, I have described scenarios which could be deemed graphic, I’ve done this as it’s one thing to read about things to be cautious of and ‘know’, but it’s another to understand, and an understanding is what I hope you will gain from reading this post.
Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, Sister, Brother, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle, Aunt, Friend, Caregiver, Teacher, Coach, no matter who you are, this information is for you.
For Anyone Who’s Been Abused
If you’ve ever been sexually abused, I’m sorry! I’m sorry you had your body violated and I’m sorry for all the things you may have encountered mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, both during and after that time. I pray you never have to go through your own child being sexually abused; this is one of my biggest fears! I also send you strength, to stand in your own power and find a way to use your pain and suffering to help others, to heal, like I am today. I implore you to find a way to share your story, to push through any weaknesses which have been inflicted upon you from another person and stand tall, no longer allowing them to hold any power over you, you ARE strong, you ARE amazing, you ARE loved! It might be extremely difficult, I understand, but let it out, don’t carry those burdens with you any longer, no longer allowing it to blister inside of you, you are a strong amazing individual who can achieve amazing things. Even if it’s private, and only for you, let it out, but know you are NOT alone, I’m here for anyone if they need someone.
I hope you’ll be strong enough not to allow what has happened to you to completely destroy your life, please seek some help from outside, and from within and know what happened to you is NOT your fault. #ItsNotOk
Your past does not define your future!!
15 things to be aware of to help prevent your child being sexually abused.
BELIEVE YOUR CHILD = NO MATTER WHAT!!
If (I pray it’s a hypothetical ‘IF’) your child tells you someone has touched them, STOP whatever you are doing and listen to them. Believe them. That moment holds more value than you’ll ever know….. TRUST ME!
Your child might test your waters, (they’re smart) they may come to you with crazy stories, it might be unbelievable (fantasy) they may be telling you as the ‘truth’ to see how you will react. Your reaction will show them what might happen if they come to you with their ‘big secret’, they might be testing the waters to see whether or not you’ll actually believe them if they did say it. Stop and listen, humour them, even if it is preposterous, it might be a game, regardless, don’t fob it off, it matters.
[At the age of 7 or 8, a young girl finally decided to confess to something which had happened to her quite some time before. She got the courage to speak up, because a friend had told her it had happened to her too, but he told her to be quiet, or he would hurt her Mum. The little girl felt she could speak up, and say the same thing in case she got in trouble for not saying something earlier, that the excuse of not saying anything was because he said he would hurt her mum if he ever did, she thought she wouldn’t get in trouble if she said that. She remembers deciding to tell her Mum about the night they had nowhere to sleep and someone had offered for them to stay at his place, an older man. That night, or early hours of the morning, the young girl would wake up with his head between her legs.]
It hurts when someone doesn’t believe you!
[The young girls’ Mother believed this incident when she told her and took the necessary steps to report it and follow the process, but due to the length of time she had kept it a secret, they couldn’t prove any dates, therefore no charges could be laid.
This is an unfortunate common occurrence but it wasn’t the first time she was sexually abused as a child. It had been happening for years even before this incident had occurred, but she found herself never saying anything, (you’ll find out why later). This young girl, having her Mother not believe her when she finally told the truth about what had been happening for many years left her very angry for a long time.
As a young teenager, the young girl finally got away from her abuser and knew she didn’t have to face him ever again, but instead of her Mother backing her up, taking her side, believing her, she fell victim to the brilliant games and ways of a paedophile and chose him instead. That is NOT Ok. This was just to top off the rest of all the other hurt and pain which had transpired between the two of them for many years. It left the young girl very angry, bitter and heartbroken.]
No child asks to be brought into the world, and by rights, our parents should love, care and protect us, choose us, every time. This, unfortunately, isn’t always the case, but this post isn’t about that, it’s for you to get an insight into some ways paedophiles work. They’re deceptively smart; they’re unfortunately witty, disgustingly cunning.
Confronting Her Mother
[The young girl, now grown up pulled up the courage to re-confront her Mother and ask her why she never believed her about being abused. She is no longer a scared, angry and bitter young girl, though she doesn’t pretend she never carried with her the pain of her mother choosing someone else over her time and time again. It was time for her to start facing her past and not burying it. She can set a scene and the intentions of what the conversation is about before actually saying what she wants to say. This way there is no need for anyone to get on the back foot and get defensive ending up in a yelling tennis match solving absolutely nothing!
It had been more than a decade since this topic of conversation had come up between the young girl and her Mother, and asking her Mum why she never believed her enlightened her on a few things she hadn’t previously realised. Considering the nature of the conversation, the girl found it was actually quite good and some healing was able to take place.]
It’s True When They Say It’s Usually Someone Close To The Family.
According to saffroncentre.com, 90% of Children sexually abused know their perpetrator. 90 freaking percent!!!!! That means, someone YOU know, could betray you and your child. Think about that for a second.
With the statistics of the amount of children sexually abused (1 in 4 – that are actually reported), It happens a lot more than you would realise. There are of course many resources and I’ve just picked one, no doubt there will be varying percentages, but forgetting that detail for a second, it’s a well-known and documented fact that children, who are abused, are usually abused by someone in or known to the family. As heartbreaking as this fact is, it’s true.
The perpetrator will usually be someone who wouldn’t be suspected of doing something like this. It’s usually somebody who will have a great rapport with children and comes across completely loving, caring and wouldn’t do anything to harm them. They might even be someone who is highly respected in the community. They may have a special relationship with the kids. This special type of relationship won’t develop straight away, sometimes not even for years, but it is all part of their twisted mind, and I hate to have to say this, but you need to be wary of EVERYONE! I don’t say this to frighten you, and I don’t mean to keep your child wrapped up and not allow them to see anybody OR to even insinuate that the people you love are harming your children, because not everyone is a sadistic person who preys on the innocence of children, BUT, you need to keep your wits about you, you just don’t know sometimes!
You’d do anything to keep your kids safe… right?
If you’ve been abused yourself, I bet bottom dollar, like me, you’d do just about ANYTHING to prevent your child or any child from having to go through what you did. You’ll be more aware of the types of things to look out for, but If you’ve never been sexually abused, (bless you) while I’m sure you too would do anything to protect your children, there are things you simply may not have thought of when it comes to this topic, and that’s the exact reason my friend encouraged me to write this, because I have said things which just seemed incomprehensible to her that she would never have thought of.
Special Relationships – Grooming!
Abusive experiences will be different for everyone, but there will more than likely be some or many similarities from these scenarios with the occurrences of abuse.
[The abuser in this story was someone who had taken in a young Mother and for all intents and purposes, became the young Mothers’ Mum and Dad. After having a child, those people became the child’s Nan and the usual relevant term that goes with Nan. The young girl doesn’t feel he deserved the title to even be mentioned. She would refer to him as ‘him’ or Nan’s husband.
The girls Nan and her husband looked after her a great deal as a child, so it was only natural to have developed a relationship with them both. The little girl loved her Nan to bits, they had a really special bond, she was one of her saviours, and her Nan was one of the most loved people in her life.
Her husband, however, the little girls’ memories of him start around the very first time he ever abused her. She doesn’t remember exactly how old she was, but she does remember the scene. Lying down, her feet went just past the second cushion of the old 3-seater lounge they had, maybe around 6 years old.
She had nothing to fear from this man. They played together, he took her out driving and she got to sit on his lap and steer while they went out bush. She was lucky, and she was pretty spoiled too. They would buy her all kinds of new things, toys, clothes etc. She was probably considered favoured. She didn’t really understand that until she grew up, but she definitely didn’t go without around them.
This ‘special relationship’ was many years in the making, she was ‘groomed’, and one day, when her Nan went out for the afternoon, he offered for them to go and get a movie they could watch together. Excited, the little girl remembered searching the shop videos, excitedly eager to choose her very own movie to watch. Only a short while later, while she was enjoying the movie, he struck.
Shortly after the words were whispered in her ear “this is our little secret”.]
I’m sure no child in any kind of situation where an adult violates them in this way will know what to do next, especially when it’s someone they know so well and trusted.
It’s not only children who are groomed, other family members are groomed also. Why? Because one day, if the child does ever say something, they’ll already have had seeds planted that the child might make up some kind of lie so that they won’t believe them. Grooming can be planting seeds of doubt onto others for anything a child might say. This may come in the form of the abuser telling family members they notice the child has a very active imagination or some of the things the child says or comes up with are crazy, ludicrous. They may often mention the child constantly lying about things. Grooming can also come in the form of lavish gifts, or just regular gifts, effectively ‘buying’ their secrecy. Be aware of anyone who singles out a child and is overly generous with gifts.
Often these vile creatures have partners who are equally wicked in that they are fully aware of what is taking place but still continue to ensure that the offender is served up victim after victim instead of speaking up and protecting the children concerned.
[The young girls’ Nan was aware of the previous child sex abuse convictions of her partner, before she married him. With full knowledge of this information, she allowed the invitations of the young girl into her husband’s bed, time after time.]
These sick partnerships are more common than people realise. These sick partnerships make it even harder for detection by parents of children because while they may suspect an Uncle or another solo male figure of sexual misconduct with their child, a ‘loving couple’ are not so easily suspected. Some well-known sick partnerships which have taken their evil even one step further are the likes of Ian Brady and Myra Hindly (the Moors killers who sexually assaulted, tortured and murdered 9 innocent children) and Rose and Fred West (sexually abused, tortured and killed at least 13 girls ….. two of them were their own children).
The non-dominant abuser will be knowledgeable all along of what their partner is doing but to keep them happy, will consciously ensure they have access to the innocent children that their sickness so desperately craves.
These ‘partners’ of the abuser, are in fact as guilty, if not more-so than the person physically committing the crime! It’s revolting to think of, but it happens more than you know.
[What came with the ‘secret’ that day, now opened up to any possible time they were alone, her being taken advantage of. The driving excursions the little girl had come to love so much and felt so grown-up controlling a car, which she used to be SO excited to go out on, now included him taking advantage of the position she was in, on his lap. (You can just imagine)
It wasn’t until her Mother said to her recently in their conversation “I didn’t believe you because I saw the way you were with him, playing with him, sitting on his lap, going out driving all the time…..” she realised, every single time she did those things, looked just like any other time she would spend him. He’d built the ‘image’ of them going out driving especially to look ‘innocent’ and ‘natural’. The young girl was usually always happy to go out, she had fun and no doubt her previous enthusiasm showed. But now every time they went out, he had her all to himself. Why would anyone think differently to what was going on? “Grooming”.
The young girl had to explain to her Mother that all those times they went out driving together were the times he took advantage of her.]
One thing you need to know is abuse might not start out full on the first time, just small little touches here and there, the abuser might test the waters to their reactions.
[Things progressed for the girl, but going out driving was something she loved, and he knew it. It’s easy for adults to manipulate a child and he took advantage of something she was excited about. Eventually, she found herself torn on whether to go or not, she wanted to because she loved being out driving, but she had come to learn what would transpire on these trips. Sometimes she had no choice but to go. As she got older, she would get moody and wouldn’t talk, angry for what she had to endure.]
- Special Time Together
[There came a time, when she would stay at her Nan’s, in the mornings her Nan would come in and tell her he wanted to see her in the bedroom. The young girl slept with a nightie on and no underwear, Nan had always said she needed to ‘air it out’, that it was healthy. As the young girl would get to the bedroom, he would tell her to get into bed with him. Getting under the quilt or sheet, depending on the time of year, he would drag her in right against him and effectively spoon her. He was naked and she could feel it, it made her feel ill whenever she thought about it.]
This is NOT ok. In no world, in my own opinion, I don’t care how much someone loves a child is it normal to have a child under the covers with you, naked in that position. I don’t even feel comfortable with my own children. (This is of course, a personal opinion and age appropriate) So, if you ever see this, or find out that this is happening with your child, stop it immediately from continuing. Zero good can come from this situation.
[“I thought others put the idea into your head, they told you to say it…..”
This was the other line the girls’ Mother uttered when she asked her why she never believed what had been said.
“Because, I thought the girls had put the idea in your head and told you to say it. You know, a few others had tried the same thing before, to get money and stuff out of him, and it was all made up, nothing was ever proven!”
Gobsmacked at what her Mum had said, a light bulb went off in her head.
“And what about the time he’d been previously convicted of child sex abuse?”
“Well, I didn’t know about that!”
“Of course you didn’t” She told her.
These two comments, about her seeing ‘how she was with him’ and the above line came simultaneously. The girl, now a woman had a conscious realisation at that moment….. ‘They’ll go to any length to cover it up.’
The young woman thought to herself, ‘if there were so many other stories about what he’d done, wouldn’t you think there’s something to be said….??’]
I know alarm bells would ring in my head!
They’ll go to all lengths to cover it up!
[When the Woman’s Mum said “well I didn’t know about that”, it hadn’t occurred to her previously that she wasn’t aware he had been convicted of child sexual abuse at an earlier time. The girl had thought all of those years that her Mum knew that and STILL didn’t believe her which made it hurt even more.]
Of course she didn’t know. Why on earth would he let someone be privy to the information which could, in fact, make the girls’ claims ring true? They will go to any length to cover up the truth!
“Others have made up these lies before just to try and get money out of me; they’re the ones who would have put these ideas in her head.”
They’ll inflict fear and threats on children to act as insurance to keep their secret.
“Nothing was ever proven from all the other stories, they were all lies.”
THIS is one of the worst things that might occur out of all of the events; trying to make THE VICTIM feel guilty for telling the truth.
This is where we get to WHY she never said anything previously.
The Truth Exposed
[Because the girl was leaving town as a young teenager, she was no longer scared of what would happen to her, so she decided to casually tell her friend about the abuse she had been enduring for years.
What would happen from that comment she quite possibly anticipated but no longer cared, she was angry, she was getting out of town and she knew she wouldn’t have to face him anymore.
The girls’ friend confided in his parents about her accusations as soon as she left town. They were friends with her Nan and her husband who approached them with her accusations. The girl had been out of town only for a short time when the phone rang at her new house.
After answering the phone, her cousin looked at her as said “it’s for you” mouthing the words ‘it’s him’!
The young girl took the phone, butterflies raging and her stomach dropping all at the same time….
“Why are you making up these lies about me” he screamed at her through the phone. Squeezing the phone so tightly she retaliated to his accusations of lying yelling back at him “you know they’re not lies, if you had never touched me I wouldn’t have ever had to say anything”
Then came the guilt which TORE her heart apart….
“Can you hear your Nan in the background?” who was crying hysterically, “that’s your fault, YOU did that to her with your lies. You’ve destroyed her, she’s devastated. WHY would you do such a thing?”
He found her weakness, her achilles heel, her Nan was her weakness. She was the reason the girl NEVER said anything before and endured what she did for so many years.
He slammed the phone down and the girl followed, she was SO angry and SO hurt he had used her Nan against her.
He’d nearly come close to being exposed before. One night being home alone with him, he’d asked her for a shoulder massage (taking advantage of the fact the girl had become quite popular with her family and her Mum’s friends for happily giving shoulder massages, he saw any excuse to have physical touch with her), this night, reluctantly she obliged. After a short time, he said it was her turn. Begrudgingly, she conceded and though her arms were pinned so tightly to the sides of her ribs to protect her front, anticipating his intentions, he managed to squeeze his way through. She even tried to push his hands away, feeling voiceless. He then told her to go get her nightie on. She went into her bedroom, packed a plastic bag and tried to leave. She had planned to tell someone that night but he stopped her before she could get out of the front door, not believing her excuse of having to babysit. He pleaded with her not to go, promising he’d never touch her ever again, just to stay.
It didn’t stop after that night.]
They’ll put on a good show!
Remember how I mentioned earlier about these types of people would never be guessed to do such a thing….. It’s all an act, a show, a façade, the type of people who might be highly respected in the community, they might even receive community accolades. They might put on such an act, a show and done such deemed ‘wonderful’ things around town, people might believe they are a saint who could do no wrong. Someone they’d least expect to do such heinous things! Something like this might be enough to make a victim of their abuse furious, only they know the truth, the person behind the lies!
Of COURSE, no one would suspect such a person to do these kinds of things, and it makes it really hard to believe when a young angry teenager girl would speak about another person like this. Just like the phone call the young girl received in this story.
[Her friends’ parents were sitting at the table in the background, of COURSE, he was going to put on a good show, he couldn’t have any possible holes in his image or story, he had to act like he was the victim and the girl was making it all up. He needed the upper-hand, nothing could make him look like he was guilty. Even maintaining after everything they’d done for her, all the things they’d helped her with, trying to make her look guilty, an ungrateful brat.]
It’s scary ‘opening’ up about something that happened to you.
[The young girls Mum tried to do the right thing when she a young child, taking her aside and asking if anybody had ever touched her in her private places. She said nobody was allowed to touch those areas except sometimes doctors or Mum if ever needed. She implored to the young girl she could tell her if anybody ever touched her. In that moment, the young girl felt safe, protected, like she could be honest and tell her Mum what had been happening to her, that someone had touched her private parts, but then those feelings all came crashing down with the following words:
“You can tell me, and if anybody ever touches you, you’ll never have to see them ever again.”
FEAR immediately overtook the girl’s little body and mind. Instantly the words went through her head, ‘if I tell you, that means I’ll never get to see Nan ever again!’ She shut down and nodded her head, she understood and told her nobody had ever touched her.
The little girls Mum tried, she really tried, but unfortunately, said the wrong thing at the wrong time. Though she would never have anticipated this was the reason she never said anything, it scared the life out of her. The little girl couldn’t give up her Nan for anyone, so instead, endured sexual abuse for years.]
It wasn’t the little girls’ Mum’s fault. She really honestly did try and do the right thing, she had the right intentions, and if you have gotten to this point of the story, please know this next section is one of THE MOST important and crucial parts of your relationship with your child.
Children must know they are safe, protected and you are there for them.
Have you ever had the ‘talk’ with your child about their body parts, what’s private and what isn’t allowed to be touched by anybody else? If you haven’t, I strongly urge you to do so, the dialogue needs to be opened! It’s never too early, from the time they can understand, start talking to them. Research and read up on what to say or how to say it. Please, speak up as soon as you can, to both BOYS and GIRLS. All children need to know it is NOT OK for anybody to violate their body in any way, or is it ok for them to touch somebody else’s private areas, they need to know what is right and wrong and to tell someone about it if it ever happens, as soon as possible. If heaven forbid this ever happens, you need specifics, dates, times and places, if you cannot prove this, from what I’ve experienced on more than one occasion, nothing can be done. Time is of the essence, it’s imperative to stress the urgency of you children telling you immediately (without scaring them).
It can be a daunting conversation to have, and please don’t think having the conversation once is enough, we need to empower our children to respect their bodies. They need to know they can come to you, that it’s safe to talk to you about anything they feel uncomfortable with. I’m really pleased to hear these sorts of things are discussed in school now by teachers “we have the right to feel safe at all times.” It makes it easier to elaborate more with my girls about this.
One of the best ways to start this conversation, or creating an environment where it’s comfortable, is to tell your children about their private parts, and private means nobody else can touch them. Those areas are only for them (and Mum or Dad to apply creams if ever necessary until they’re old enough to apply themselves etc.). It’s important for them to know from an early age about this.
Another really vital thing I advise is to use proper names for body parts, not pet names. (Vagina and Penis, not ‘Giney’, ‘Mini’ or ‘Willy’ or other pet names). By doing this, you are teaching your children there is no shame associated with their genitals, this is important. I wasn’t comfortable with the proper names for body parts for a long time, due to shame, it was embarrassing to speak those words, it felt dirty. The more natural you treat a Childs’ body and teach them to treat and talk about their own body parts, the more comfortable and ‘aware’ they’ll be with knowing what is and isn’t right.
Please be very wary of kids who play doctors also, the ‘doctor’ game can involve children touching areas thinking it’s “ok” because doctors can do that.
Here is a great link shared with me from another Mum – thank you !!!
Caregivers have a duty of care too…..
Opening up is really scary.
[The little girl had numerous opportunities to speak up. There were a couple of people who knew what had been happening to her but because she never admitted it, they couldn’t do anything. They asked her time and time again, and time again she so desperately wanted to tell them to make it stop but fear of losing her Nan ran through her head every time. The little girls Cousin knew as it had happened to her as well by the same man, but they weren’t isolated incidents.
One time on school camp, she was taken from camp activities with one of her teachers and given the chance to open up by family services, but she never did. She was scared and worried about the repercussions (losing her Nan in this little girl’s case) or even worse, ‘what would he do to me if I told the ‘secret”. ]
If the girl was approached in a different manner, it’s quite possible she would have felt safe enough to speak up about what had been happening, but nobody was to know those words her Mum had uttered to her, or why it was she never spoke up, as much as she wanted it to stop, fear stopped her. Fear in a child is a crippling emotion.
Be careful with your wording.
I’ll use the example from the little girls’ Mum in this story, though she didn’t intentionally threaten her, she did and she didn’t even realise. It was the words she chose. The young girl, once grown up might possibly even have used the same words if she was never abused and didn’t understand what those words could do to a child, they were seemingly harmless. Had those words been different, maybe she possibly wouldn’t have endured so many years of abuse as she did. (There couldn’t possibly any blame on the little girls’ Mum for this, she wasn’t to know).
Words are SO powerful. When talking to children, try and use calming, soft words, supportive words, words of encouragement. Those words and those moments your child will remember if ever (heaven forbid) they need to come to you.
It’s also possible to use other scenarios and examples, not so direct. This way it can be relatable to a child’s mentality. “See how that dog is touching that cat’s bottom, that’s not right, he shouldn’t be doing that. You know, it’s not ok for anybody to touch another person’s private parts”. By doing this you’re relating daily situations and occurrences to the child and speaking about it in a seemingly natural way, it makes it a much easier way to open up and talk more about it. You can then follow on with, “you know it’s not ok for anybody to touch your private areas either, just like that cat. Nobody has touched your private areas, have they? You know if anybody ever does, it’s best to tell Mummy or Daddy straight away so we know”. Lightly, no harsh tones or words and then leave it be, just some ideas for you, planting seeds of knowledge at an early age.
“People won’t remember what you said to them, but they’ll remember how you made them feel!”
We must make children feel safe, loved and protected. Our words can do this along with our demeanour, setting of the scene, our intentions. By letting these conversations flow naturally with your children, you’ll allow them to feel comfortable talking about these situations and vice versa. (It gets easier the more you do it, the more you do it, the more they realise how important it is).
If you ever need to ask the question of whether they have been touched or not, have the conversation with yourself or someone trusted before you speak with your child. Think about how it might be perceived from a much younger innocent version of you. Kids are quick; they’re a lot smarter than we sometimes give them credit for.
Do you think the little girls Mum ever thought she would associate her words with the ripple effect it would have on her relationship with her Nan? I highly doubt it. Don’t ever underestimate the bond a child has with someone. A bond so strong, a little girl was willing to put up with constant abuse out of fear she would lose her Nan if she ever said anything.
If you’re worried about how your child will take the conversation, try and soothe them by explaining as much as you can (I’ve left some examples at the end of the post), but don’t make it an hour long, they won’t retain it all. It needs to be short and sweet, yet long enough they understand. Where possible, keep it light-hearted. It can be a tricky balance, however, this is why we revisit these conversations several times, giving us time to improve. They’ll grow up and understand more each time we discuss it with them. Also, while having these conversations, pay close attention to their body language. If your child looks fearful, they start fidgeting, wide eyes; hold their breath, freeze, there’s a good chance something is up. These are all signs to be wary of.
Pay attention to their behaviours.
Kids are amazing and they’re very good at feeling other people’s energies and personalities before we are. Just like animals, they’re sensitive to more than we are.
If your child doesn’t like someone, complains about being around them, throws a tantrum if they have to go with that person, PAY ATTENTION!!! They’re trying to tell you something. Dig a little more to find out why they don’t like about that particular person, softly, encouraging them to open up a little.
Sometimes (and we all do it) we get frustrated at their behaviours and tell them ‘stop being silly’, or ‘why are you acting this way’. We don’t get it, we’re running late, we have to go and we just don’t want to deal with this episode of behaviour right now, so we tell them off and take them anyway.
By us telling them off and telling them they’re ‘silly’, or ‘being naughty’, we’re unknowingly taking away their feeling of protection (if this ever was the case). We’re telling them it’s not important to understand what the problem is and let them be put in that situation anyway.
There might be a multitude of reasons for your child’s behaviour, but don’t pass it off.
Another warning sign is if the child changes behaviour around parents, no longer running around nude, keeping their doors locked, bed wedding or other negative behaviours, these are usually cries for help or trying to do what they can to protect themselves.
This goes as they grow older too if you notice they start withdrawing and there’s suddenly something really odd or different about their behaviour, take the time to show them you care and are there for them to talk to and open up to. Don’t push the issue but don’t leave it either and as they get older (teens) that can be a hard enough time as it is with lots of changes. There might have been an ‘event’ or particular time where there was a switch, one day they were fine the next they weren’t. Ask yourself, where were they, who were they with, what could have happened? There’s usually a reason for a sudden change in behaviour. I pray it is something other than the topic of discussion in this article. Creating strong relationships of trusted communication as they grow up, you’ll have a better chance of being able to get through to them in their teen years. (That’s my theory anyway).
STOP & LISTEN
Take the time to quietly listen, really hear them, let them talk, no matter how long it takes, help them understand you are willing to learn and understand what exactly their problem is. Explain that if you can understand exactly why it is they don’t want to go somewhere or be around someone, tell you their problem, maybe there might be a better solution, a way you can help them.
Sometimes they might not actually know what it is…. it might just be their own gut feeling, but they’ll know you’re there for them; you care and are concerned for their feelings. This will mean more to them than you’ll possibly know at the time. CHOOSE THEM! I know sometimes this can be hard with responsibilities, but ultimately, our babies are our first responsibility, don’t overlook that.
Trust your gut!
If something tells you someone or something is off… trust it. For god’s sake TRUST IT! This is a general rule of thumb, if you’ve ever gone against your gut instinct and paid the price, you’ll know what I mean.
If your gut is telling you something is off with your child or about a particular person, heed warning, you need to pay attention. Don’t ignore it. Trust that inner feeling / knowing.
Sometimes kids instincts are more switched on than ours, so if they say something you feel is unwarranted or unsolicited about them not liking someone, don’t cajole “that’s not very nice, they might be a lovely person, don’t be too quick to judge” (I’ve said it before), instead, pay closer attention, ask them why or what it is they don’t like, they might know something or they might have had their own gut instinct about someone you can’t see or feel.
That brings us to the end of the article.
Let’s summarise all the above!
15 things to be aware of to protect your child from sexual abuse.
- Believe your child – no matter what.
If your child comes to tell you someone has hurt them in any way, believe them. Investigate and look further into it. Never EVER ask ‘What did you do?’ Ask them to explain to you what happened, listen.
- It hurts when someone doesn’t believe you – especially a parent.
It’s really painful to open up about something and your parent/s don’t believe you. Especially if it’s something you’ve held onto for many years. Be there for your child, through everything. Choose them, make them your priority, no matter what!
- Sexual Abuse of Children is usually by someone known to the family.
PAY ATTENTION TO ALL RELATIONSHIPS PEOPLE HAVE WITH YOUR KIDS.
- Special Relationships – Grooming.
Sometimes they are called ‘special’, or ‘close’, or a special ‘bond’ for a reason. Keep an eye on anyone who has a close relationship with your child, no matter what age. Certain actions can show areas of concern, depending on how old your child is. (hugs, kisses, other forms of affection) Grooming can happen for many years, most will build trust before they attack, get to know the child, understand weaknesses, and know how they can control, manipulate and scare them. Don’t forget, other family members are groomed also.
- Sick Partnerships
Unfortunately, it’s not just the abusers we have to be concerned about, but those who standby allow what goes on, to continue, effectively serving children up on a silver platter. It’s harder to spot a ‘loving couple’ to be a ‘pair’ of abusers rather than a single lone male (that is presumptuous, there are females also capable of this crime, but it’s mostly males) an Uncle, Dad, Step-Dad, Grandfather etc.
Secrets are allowed to be shared with parents! Start a game as a young child if possible. Let them know no matter who tells them secrets, secrets aren’t kept from you. Kids LOVE secrets and others will take advantage of it. If you let your child know they can tell you any secrets, even if someone tells them they can’t, you’ll have a better chance of them telling you what you need to know. Be wary of ‘This is our little secret’.
- Special Time Together
There may be certain times or events (going out driving for example used in this story) which your child might spend with someone. You need to know where and who your child is with and what they’re doing. How long are they there for, is it an inappropriate area for them to be spending time together (in a bedroom for example)? You can ask general things, don’t make it a big deal ‘so what do you and ‘x’ do when you go out driving, or go to the park? What sort of things do you talk about? Do you like it?’ Without seeming intrusive, you can structure a conversation to include ways to find out if everything is innocent or not. Remember to try and keep it as natural as possible and not an interrogation. Watch their body languages and responses to your questions.
- They’ll go to any lengths to cover it up (some examples were given above in my main post)
- They’ll put on a good show.
This goes with #7; it is usually someone you wouldn’t expect. They’ll usually have a respected image with others who would never suspect they could do anything deceitful.
- It is really scary for children to open up about being sexually abused.
It’s not just scary for a child to open up, but they may have been threatened to never say anything by the perpetrator or they’ll hurt them, or their parents. This is a common occurrence with child abuse. They know it will scare the child and give them fewer chances of getting caught. Creating the right environment for a child to open up if you suspect something has happened, is imperative. You can do it naturally, try to ensure they feel safe in all areas and nothing bad will happen to them. Reassure them nobody will be able to hurt them and everyone is safe if they tell the truth, no matter what they might have been told. Reinforce telling the truth sets everyone free and makes everybody safe again. Kids need to know and understand they’ll not be blamed for them telling the truth and will not cause any harm or pain to anybody, especially themselves or their family. This is usually what stops them from telling the truth. They need to know the truth will stop it from happening.
- Children must feel loved, safe and protected.
This is probably the MOST important thing you need to know and understand and goes with point #9. It’s really vital our kids understand they are safe and protected with us. They need to know we will be there for them no matter what; an unconditional unspoken word isn’t enough. Please do tell them time and time again so if they ever need to, they can come to you and know they’ll be safe.
- Duty of care.
There are others who have a duty of care too. If you see someone or have concerns about another person and a child which may not be yours, if you see anything which makes you look twice or gives you a twisted feeling in your stomach, you need to say something. This can also be really difficult but we each have a duty of care to the protection of children. Having a hunch or feeling about this and not saying anything to anyone is as bad as the act itself, you speaking up might just save a child or more. You have a duty of care, yes, it’s a very tricky matter, especially if you’re wrong, and this is why you approach with caution. Seek some advice first if need be on what to do, but whatever you do, do NOT do NOTHING. You MUST speak up.
- Be careful with your wording.
This is self-explanatory and to your discretion. You’ll know your child better than anyone and will know their level of understanding and capabilities, but words, tones, and topics of conversation are important. Think about what you want to say and how it might be perceived by a younger version of you, would it be taken well or would it scare you? Try soft, encouraging and light-hearted words wherever possible, keep it natural. If you’re approaching a child to ask because of concerns, #9 and #10 will hopefully help you.
- Pay attention to behaviours.
This is especially important for any radical or sudden changes in behaviour. Were they fine one day and not fine the next? Did something happen? Where were they? What were they doing in the time of change? You will probably get ‘nothing is wrong’ or ‘I’m fine’. Don’t leave it at that, look into it further. Revisit when you can to find out, chances are something did happen (it might not be abuse) but there is usually a reason for radical sudden changes in behaviour. Same goes for your child acting out because they don’t want to go with a certain person, why are they doing this? Take the time to find out. (Check out the post above for further clarification on this area). If your child is having any problems or acting out, ask them what the problem is and tell them you are willing to just listen, no judgement. Really listen to them, let them tell you as much as they need to. Make a plan of action from there.
- Trust your gut.
If you feel something is up or get a strange or uncomfortable vibe from someone or something, take note. If your child would be in a situation you have a bad feeling about – don’t put them in that situation. Trust your gut – ALWAYS! Kids are great at instincts, they’re usually better at judging characters and people than we are, just like animals. Trust their instincts too, if they don’t like someone, pay attention.
This is a story I was meant to write!
Recently a friend encouraged me to write about this after discussing my past with her, encouraging me to share with others, to help educate them. I thought it might have been a good idea but it wasn’t until recently I felt I had the right words to write about it.
This post is probably for both you and I. For me to share what I can with you, to help you and also for myself to feel like what I went through wasn’t all in vain and even though I wrote a hypothetical story about a little girl, I feel I’ve been able to do something good with it.
I have been writing this for a little while, just making sure I had everything right before I published it, and in the meantime, I recorded a video on my personal facebook profile, live, about being sexually abused as a child! #ItsNotOk is now what I am working towards. It has reached thousands of people in the last 48hrs and I’m so grateful for all of the support. You can find my video on my facebook page (I can’t share here unfortunately).
It’s NOT ok to be sexually abused, and it’s NOT ok to be fearful to speak up. Unfortunately, too many people suffer in silence, every single day, and I spoke up on behalf of all of those people, hoping to help them find the courage to speak up, to find their voice and stop the stigma around sexual abuse.
The effects of being sexually abused stay with you for your whole life, it’s not ok to have what happened to you affect you in the ways it does. I’ve been humbled by people all around the world who have reached out to me since sharing speaking up, and my voice will only get stronger from here on in! I’m already getting stronger. I will not be silenced any longer!!
It’s time to speak up, time to stand up, UNITE! #ItsNotOK
What YOU can do to help.
You can help make a HUGE difference in others lives, protecting children!!
By sharing this to create awareness for other parents.
By opening up the conversation with your loved one/s about how to approach and talk to your children about this.
By opening up the conversation with your friends, co-workers and anyone you feel needs to know this information.
If need be, print it out and pin it up for others to read, hand it around. It doesn’t matter how, but just keep sharing it, over and over, any which way you can.
It’s vital for everyone to have an understand of what to look for. It hadn’t occurred to me before my friend told me she’d never know what to look for that others wouldn’t either. Please, PLEASE share, this might just save one child from having to endure sexual abuse, and if that’s the case, me writing this story and recording my video was so worth it!
Through creating awareness, we can help protect our children by imparting this awareness, strength and empowering them to know the differences between right and wrong, and by strengthening the communication about their bodies will teach them to respect themselves and promote self-worth. These are some of the most important lessons in life for our children.
(Watch others actions / behaviours and body language when you speak about this. This can make a lot of people uncomfortable, you can gain more insight from my video about this particular section. There are a multitude of reasons some can get uncomfortable, and if you happen to open up to a predator, I assume there will be some kind of reaction, it will make them very nervous.)
I really hope you’ve found value in what I’ve shared with you today. Sexual Abuse is such a devastating thing to endure, even worse when children are targeted.
I hope this helps you protect your babies though I pray it never happens to you or your family.
Being a Survivor of child sexual abuse (and sexual abuse in general), I’ve found my own power and no longer allowing what happened to me mean nothing. While I am unable to do anything legally, I can and will continue to use my experiences to help others. Nothing will stop me from continuing on my journey.
Please leave your comments below, I would love to know you’ve found value from reading this.
I am contactable personally through the contact page, or via email, I would love to hear from you.
Firstly, to my Husband, who is my rock, my family for not turning their head. To my friend, who encouraged me to write about this in the first place, I may not have written this had it not been for your encouragement, so thank you. There have been a few people who have also contributed to this post, ultimately helping me make it the best it could be. Your input has been invaluable and it wouldn’t be complete without your input, feedback and opinions, I’m truly grateful to each and every single one of you. Thank you. To the THOUSANDS of people who have supported me, reached out to me, messaged me, called me, thank you !!!!
You can follow me here to be kept up to date with other important information, support and encouragement:
Sending Love and Light to all of you, may the universe always have your back.
Sexual Assault Services Throughout Australia:
Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence National Help Line
1800 Respect (1800 737 732)
This is a brief outline of services that can be accessed in other regions of Tasmania and other states to provide support to survivors of sexual assault and their …
This is a brief outline of services that can be accessed in other regions of Tasmania and other states to provide support to survivors of sexual assault and their …