Raising children is an incredible journey. We see them strive and grow into amazing human beings. We want to nurture them, encourage them to explore the world and at the same time protect them from any and every harm there is. If we could, we would shelter them from all the bad in the world for their entire lives. Yet, we all know that this is not possible. As much as we try not to think about all those ‘what ifs’, they keep creeping back into our minds the moment our child leaves the home to go to a friend, school, the mall, the movies, or to a party.
There are dangers that we simply can’t protect our children from, no matter how hard we try. Some of these dangers are so horrific, the mere thought of them makes us sick to our stomach. We would rather lock these terrifying thoughts away than really sit down and think about ‘what if’ …….
Let me ask you something: If your son or daughter came to you today and told you that they had been touched and stroked by someone in places that made them feel uncomfortable, would you know what to do? Would you know how to handle the situation? What would your first thought be? Would it be denial? Would the thought of your child telling you a lie cross your mind? What if it was a close friend or family member who did this to your child? How would you react?
Protecting our sons and daughters from a child molester is unfortunately almost impossible. Rarely do we know when we are approached by one. But what if, instead of hoping and wishing that it would never happen, and pushing that terrifying thought back into the depth of our mind, we chose to sit down with our children and talked to them about this very subject. Knowledge is power, we all know that and the more we know about something, the better we are equipped to deal with it.
There are parents, of course, who do educate their children about the possibility of sexual abuse. Most of these parents had to experience such a scenario for themselves and want their kids to be prepared for the eventuality that hopefully will never come to pass.
However, most parents will never address this subject with their children. One of the major reasons is quite simply denial. Denial that this could ever happen to their child. But also not wanting to just so much as think about their child in such a horrific situation. Or hoping and wishing that their child would scream from the top of their lungs if anyone even so much as tried to touch them. Or simply not wanting to face the fact that it could happen any day and at any age.
When I was 12 years old, I went to a stable in a neighbouring town to take care of a pony. I loved horses and I loved being outdoors. So of course I was very happy to have this opportunity. There was an older man (maybe in his 60s) who took care of the stables and the horses. He showed me the ropes on how to saddle a horse and how to brush him, scrape his hooves and of course, how not to get bitten or kicked while doing that.
As much as I enjoyed taking care of that pony, I was in love with the big horses, so when the stable master one day asked if I wanted to ride on his horse to get a feel for being on a big one I was more than willing to go. So I was sitting on this beautiful golden brown animal and he held the reins and walked beside us.
It was a beautiful and warm summer’s day. The air smelled like dust, flowers, grass and horse. We walked along fenced meadows and a couple of fields until we came to a shed. He said he just had to go inside to get something and he wanted to give his horse a rest since it was such a warm day. He helped me down and we went inside.
I don’t remember much about the interior of the shed, but what I do remember was that there was a bed with a dusty, rough blanket in one corner. I remember that part so vividly because that was where he asked me to sit down. He molested me that day.
I did not understand why he began to stroke my breasts or tried to touch me between my legs. I had no idea what sexuality meant. I had been too young for the ‘sex-talk’ and I had not yet been interested in boys. I just knew that it felt wrong.
When I came home from the stables that day, I did not know what to do. I did not know if I should tell anyone. I felt strange. I was worried that my parents would be angry or disappointed in me. I could not make sense of what had happened. Luckily, I told a friend who came by that day and he insisted that I tell my parents. He even went with me to my mom.
When I told her, she first just stared at me. Then she said: ‘Don’t go there anymore!’ that was the only time she ever spoke about what had happened to me. She was not prepared for what I had told her. I believe today that she had hoped I would forget about it all if she did not mention it again. Of course I did not forget and it haunted me for many years until I found my way into spirituality and with that learned how to let go of the emotional trauma.
For the longest time, I was angry with my mother because I believed that she had failed me. Yet, now that I am a mother I have been asking myself what I would do, if my son came home with such horrific news.
My son is 5 years old and last year my husband and I started to read a wonderful book with him. It is called ‘This is MY Body!’ By Pattie Fitzgerald. It is designed for young children to learn about their bodies and about the right and wrong ways of a touch.
It is never too early to start talking to your kids about the importance of protecting themselves from child molesters. It is important that they know that it is safe to tell you and most of all, that you will be their rock, their sanctuary, should this ever happen.
I hope my article will encourage parents to begin a dialogue with their children about this very important subject of sexual abuse.
Love & Light,