10 reasons to talk about sexual abuse with your children

Talking about sexual abuse with children

madeliefjeParents often find it very hard to discuss sexual abuse with children.
They might think the child isn’t ready for the “sex-talk”, yet. That’s not what this is about, though. Talk about sexual abuse to bring the message to your children: ‘Your body is yours! You have the right to choose your boundaries.’

Top 10 reasons to talk about sexual abuse to your child

  1. Statistically one out of every 4 girls and one out of 6 boys will be sexually abused by the age of 16.
  2. It happens near you. Whether you’re rich or poor, catholic or protestant, black or white, It happens in all parts of society at a fairly equal rate.
  3. The abuser is almost never a stranger. 93% are either familymembers or friends of the family.
  4. Even babies can be victims. Around the age of three you can start teaching your child that certain parts of their bodies are private.
  5. You don’t have to scare the child. When you teach your kid not to cross when there are cars on the road, it won’t be afraid of roads. It will just be careful not to cross when it’s dangerous.
  6. When you talk about sexual abuse regularly with your child, he/she will confide easier if something happens,
  7. When you practise of such private talks, you will likely find out at an early stage if your child is abused.
  8. It’s not just adults! Kids abuse kids. Teach your child what’s (un) acceptable in touching others. That way you will keep your child safe from abusive children …or.. from becoming an abuser.
  9. You don’t give them any ideas. There’s no reason to think your child will be more susceptible to fantasies about sex, just because they are aware of the dangers.
  10. It can actually happen to your child. Child sexual abuse happens. Often.
    Parents of abused children never thought it could happen to their child either.

OK- I’m convinced…. But how do I talk about sexual abuse to MY child?

Talking to your child about this is easy. We all know the term ‘Stranger-danger’. Most abuser aren’t strangers, so you should find another way to talk about sexual abuse to your child. Here are some suggestions.

First of all, it’s not about sex. It’s about owning your body

Teach your child: The parts that are covered by a bathing suit are yours and yours alone! Except for medical tests and personal hygiëne (which is easily explained to a child) nobody should touch your private parts and you need to respect other people’s privates. You have the right to say NO and when anyone wants to share “a little secret” with you, it’s not OK. When in doubt talk to mommy or daddy. Or to your teacher, or to anyone you trust.

Start today! Don’t delay.

Start this conversation at an early age and repeat it throughout childhood.
That way your child will know he/she can Always, Always, Always talk to you about anything, even when it feels a little awkward.

 

For more information about the long term effects of child sexual abuse and how to heal from them, buy the book ‘I Thrive. Healing child sexual abuse’ at Amazon.com

Repeat after me: ‘Obedience is our enemy’

Abusers know best how to instill obedience in a child

‘Don’t tell mommy, we’ll both be in trouble’, is one of many standard sentences that abuser use to make sure the child keeps their secret. Instilling a sense of shame and guilt is a very effective method of control. Usually the abuser will add in a sense of complicity: ‘You and me against the world’, ‘Our little secret’ and ‘You’re so smart, other people won’t understand’. A mix of friendliness and threats often keep the child from telling for many years.

Complicity and compliance

Enlisting the childs complience is an important step. It’s a way of making sure that the child is obedient and quiet. If you can get the child to feel responsible for what happens, the fact that it’s a bad thing means that they will keep their mouth firmly shut about it. After all, they feel it was their fault: ‘Look what you made me do’, ‘You shouldn’t have done that’.

Conspiracy of abusers? Or just child rearing mistakes?

Some contend that there must be a manual, something that people who abuse children must have read in order to skillfully seperate children from the very people who could help them. A list of things to do if you want to abuse a child. I believe the truth is much more sinister than that. Child rearing has long been based on the very same principles. It’s just more of the same, only the goal is different.

Powerlessness in children gives the abuser the advantage

What are some of the things we habitually say to our children that abusers pervert to their own ends?

  • “Shame on you” (for doing something bad)
  • “Respect your elders” (respect in this context generally means obey)
  • “Not another word out of you” (your opinion doesn’t count)
  • “Stop crying” (your emotions are best suppressed)

A child in this world is fully dependent upon adults and is taught many lessons that emphasize its powerlessness.

Empowerment for children

Empowering our children to say no, even to us, may give them a leg up on any would be abuser. Some think that this leads to lawless children, but I think their fears are overstated. Most children thrive on having good, clear boundaries established for them. Feeling the need to test them is a natural impulse. Offering them explanations and the reasoning behind the rules, is a way of helping them understand the world around them better.

Empowerment for toddlers

Empowerment can start at a very early age. Give a toddler a choice of 2 sets clothes to wear and as young as they are, they will pick one and feel empowered by the fact that they have a choice. It allows them to have some influence on what they wear, rather than you having all the power and making all the decisions for them.