Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Talk to Your Kids About Child Molestation. It May Save Them And Others.

I recently learned that a 9yo girl, who is close to me, had been molested when she was a few years younger. It was not by an immediate family member, but it was someone that was close to the family; the law is going after this person. Upon hearing this news, memories that I had tucked away deep into my mind came flooding back to me. I was sad, angry, and motivated all at once; I am motivated to write this article so that others understand: You HAVE to discuss molestation, rape, and predators with your child.

For those of you who believe a child is too young for this kind of topic, you are incorrect. I am certainly not saying to tell them the details of what could happen. Tailor the discussion appropriately for the age of your kid. Why is this so important to talk to them about? For you to understand, I have to tell you a little about my experience.

I was molested when I was 11 years old. I never said anything, not until 20 years later. I don't remember my parents, a teacher, or anyone ever discussing this situation with me or my siblings. If they did, it wasn't often enough to reinforce the message. He got my little sister, too. I knew, and I didn't say anything. I am still mad at myself for it. I could have protected her. Maybe if I was told before that it was not ok for someone to grab and touch me and maybe if I was encouraged to tell someone I trusted, I may have spoken up and been able to prevent the person who hurt me from hurting others.

It breaks my heart that this 9yo girl went through this. She was told she was a Superhero for speaking up and making sure this man doesn't do it to more kids. I know she has a strong spirit and will get through the emotional and mental trauma. I also believe that she will most likely turn it around and use this to help others.

You want to believe your child would tell you if someone was hurting them, sadly, this is not always true. Sometimes it takes a few years before they speak up, like with this 9yo girl. Sometimes they never speak up. The offender is most often someone they know and are supposed to trust. And it is common for the pedophile to threaten the child with something like, "If you tell anyone, I will kill your mom and dad." So, how is any child supposed to know they can and should tell someone?

If a child ever tells you someone has been hurting or touching them, BELIEVE them. It is your DUTY to take legal actions to protect this child. LISTEN to what they say. PAY ATTENTION to their actions and emotions. I can say, even writing this article has pulled up a lot of anger in me. I was taking it out on basic chores and cooking (the cheese pissed me off because the plastic wrap got in the way when I was grating it). I recognized that my anger was due to this topic, the little girl, and my own memories; it's been more than 30 years for me, imagine what a child goes through. 

In any case, it is part of my mission to make sure other children do not suffer this way. They need to KNOW it is OK to say something to someone. They NEED to KNOW to SPEAK UP, even if they are threatened. Tell them to tell you, a teacher, a coach, another family member, or any trusted adult that will listen. Statistically, "1 out of 4 girls and 1 out of 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18,"

PLEASE, if you haven't already, HAVE THIS DISCUSSION with your kids... And talk to them every-so-often about it, reinforcing their trust in you and encouraging them to speak up.