When I was ten years old, my grandmother married a man. I hestitate calling him a man, because for the nine months they were married, he sexually abused me several times a week. As a ten and eleven year old, you are very formidable by the words of adults. Each time he would abuse me, he would tell me many times that if I said anything, to anyone, about what was happening to me, that everyone would know how bad of a person I was. That if I told, that I would be in trouble. I was ten, he was loud, I believed him.
When I was seventeen, I finally “confessed” what I had done to a close friend. She quickly informed me that I was the victim, and that I had done nothing wrong. I was seventeen years old, and for the first time in my life, I understood that I wasn’t in the wrong. I hadn’t told anyone for seven years about the abuse I had endured for nine long months, because I had believed the loud words of my abuser. That’s why it’s so important that parents try harder than sexual predators.
My parents are amazing. They absolutely did nothing wrong in this scenario. I know now, as a parent myself, that when your child is hurt or endures pain, you think about what you could have done differently to fix it. I know that my parents have beaten themselves up about the fact that I endured this for years. I’m sure they’ve had thought about how they should have seen the signs, or they should have known, or how they wish I could have come to them. My parents told me often, probably once every few months, that I could come to them with anything. That if anyone every tried to hurt me, or anyone I knew, that I could and should come and talk to them about it. We are a very close family, and I trusted them, but my abuser was louder.
Abusers like mine want to make sure they don’t get caught. They know they’re evil. They know they’re wrong. Children are incredibly formidable. Even evil people feel like they hold authority over you, and my ten year old mind believed that because he was an adult, that surely he must know whether or not I would get in trouble about something. I believed him, because he was loud in my head. He was consistent, he was repititious, he was convincing, I was vulnerable.
My mission as a survivor of this abuse is to have parents try harder than sexual predators. Not that you aren’t trying, or I’m not trying, or my parents didn’t try, because we all care and we do try! Abusers are deperate to make sure their message is heard and believed. They don’t care what they have to say to get you to believe their words, they just want you to believe them. This is why we as parents have to try so much harder than they do.
Many parents, including myself, want to talk to our kids about sexual predators so they stay safe. The problem is, it’s awkward. It’s a hard conversation to have with your kids that evil people exist and may want to harm them. Stranger Danger isn’t enough, because rarely is it a stranger. How young is too young to talk? Am I going to ruin their innocence? How often is too often to bring it up? Those are all questions I’ve asked myself when thinking about talking to my girls about sexual predators, but ones I should throw out of my mind.
The important thing is consistency. Keep talking to your kids. Keep talking about important things TOO OFTEN. Because if you’re talking too often, it will be at the forefront of their minds, no matter what happens, that they can come to you with anything. You don’t always have to talk to your kids about sex, but everytime you think of protecting them from it, don’t wait to talk, talk then. It doesn’t have to be long and drawn out, just talk about it. We must as parents try harder than sexual predators.
So this is my anthem, and how I want to change the world because of what happened to me. Parents try harder than sexual predators. I want you to repeat to your kids over and over that there are body parts to be kept private, that people should never want to touch them or see them, unless they are at the doctor with mommy or daddy, and that if anyone does they should come and tell mommy or daddy right away so they can make sure it never happens again. And maybe, just maybe, if we keep talking to our kids over and over about this, more often than feels comfortable, that we can make sure this doesn’t keep happening. Maybe we can save the next generation from the 1 in 4 girls, and 1 in 6 boys statistic of sexual abuse before the age of 18. Parents: Try harder than sexual predators.
If your child has been sexually abused in anyway, unless you were the abuser, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. You didn’t cause it, you didn’t allow it, it just happened. What you do moving forward is what counts. Don’t blame yourself, because you’re not the one to blame. Help spread the movement. Let’s be stronger. Parents try harder than sexual predators.
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