It’s not your fault. Sexual, physical and mental abuse can happen to anyone. It does not mean that you are a bad person or that you somehow deserved it. You are not to blame!
This message more than ever goes out to those still struggling with the pain of surviving abuse. Recently I received a call from a family member about a young girl that was being molested by her mom’s boyfriend. She talked about the horrors she felt living in the same house with this monster and the betrayal she felt. She had informed her mother about the abuse and yet her mother did not believe her and stood by her man. This baby’s nightmare had me in tears because it paralleled my own years ago.
This is the reason I decided to write this for parents and survivors. I want everyone to know what goes through the mind of a sexually abused child…..Its my fault…. I am to blame…. I hate myself…. I don’t matter…. Why won’t someone believe me?!.…..These were my thoughts at one point in time.If you ask your child or another abused child you might be surprised to learn these are their thoughts as well….. I can vividly recall the fear and revulsion I felt at being touched. As with the young woman that I spoke with, my mother knew of the horrors I suffered. It took years to battle through the pain and suffering so that I can hold up my head unashamed. The scars of abuse is not something that just magically melt away because we age.
It is one thing to see the tears and to hear the fear but to understand the shame is something that we all need to truly know. In this young girl’s world her mother chose to not believe her. Sadly the more young girls and boys become brave enough to talk about their survival, the more it becomes shockingly apparent how many claim their parents fail to believe their kids, or they are aware and do nothing.
For some women the fear of being alone can blind us to the actions of the ‘good man’ that we love. I am not saying that all men are pedophiles or that mothers are to blame. No I am strictly talking to the parents, and men and women with children who have exhibited signs that are being missed or not taken seriously.
If you suspect your child may be being abused or feel helpless to stop it, I am not going to start bashing your reasons for not acting I am Begging you to act now. A child doesn’t register time like adults, 15 minutes can be an eternity. ACT NOW! Even one time can shatter a lifetime….
As adults and parents, we arrogantly assume we can tell who poses a risk. If an individual generally behaves well, does good things for others, is respected by others or fun to be with, then we instinctively believe they’re safe. I implore all men and women to please, please listen to your children. Look for changes in behavior and signs of depression, aggression and anxiety. Ask questions. Go to the school. Be diligent. Abuse doesn’t have to be at home. Mom and Dad you are your child’s first super heroes so suit up.
More and more I start thinking of the age-old debate of ‘NATURE vs NURTURE’. Recently there was another school shooting, this time in Florida and it has me wondering. Why are our kids so angry, depressed and prone to violence? Sometimes there is no apparent abuse in the homes of these individuals, there is no truly defined dysfunction….. Some of the most quiet and unassuming individuals are brimming with malcontent and anger. Why? Why are so many teenagers choosing to end their lives rather than deal with bullying and low self-esteem? Why do they cut themselves? I have been on the receiving end of many cries for help, because someone has decided that life is just not worth living. A lot of kids come to me because they feel no one will listen. They feel like even though I am not a doctor, at least I care about them as a person.
Most parents today are so intent upon protecting our kids that we are shielding them from everything. But is that healthy or right? In Nature or the wild other species nurture and care for their young as well,however, even a lioness will allow her cubs to learn to fend for themselves. (Before we go any further this is not in regards to the shooter in the above story but in general.) Human mothers, fathers, grand parents and etc, today are so busy worrying about the boogy man next door, that we may not realize the one being created in the next bedroom. Have you noticed the number of kids that have no idea how to take care of themselves outside of mom or dad has grown? NO? Well I have, and it is very depressing. Young men are becoming so co-dependenton their mothers that they are not even able to hold down themselves without a woman there to guide them or take the reins. Fathers are either absent or fighting a seemingly losing battle for their son’s respect. Young girls that are so lost in the ways of being strong womenbecause their role models have been replaced by reality star icons. The role of Mom is now losing the respect it deserves. Then there is the intense moral dilemma of sex being forced down the throats of everyone within the country by the media….
When we talk to our kids about problems often parents will offer a solution before giving that child a chance to understand the lesson they need to.Think about this for a moment….. How did you learn that fire was hot? Most of us will have touched something as a kid and that sting was enough of a lesson to make us understand that fire was NEVER to be touched again. Life is really no different. LIFE is about learning and processing what we have learned. It is not about giving the answersand protecting. That is actually less about nurturingand more coddling. Going back to bullying because of the recent events, the more kids I talk to , the more I realize that they are so mentally destroyed by words that they can’t help but be devastated by adversity. They have not learned the lesson that not everyone is bad and not everyone is good. Humans can be mean, but that does not reflect your inner being. A lot of parents are no longer teaching their kids to fight back. Not in the physical sense but in the mental and emotional battle of looking to self and realizing that NOTHING anyone ever says about them is worth them internalizing that pain.
I say all of this because we have to do something to help our kids before the next generation are worse. As a parent allow your child to learn the lessons that are needed. It is not healthy to protect them from everything. Lets all learn to teach ourselves which battles are worth fighting for our kids and allow those necessary for growth to be learned. Let kids be kids. Let them get dirty, scrape a knee, pick themselves up and learn that pain can be overcome. It fades…
Children are our most precious gifts. It is our duty to protect them from all harm, sometimes that includes protecting them from ourselves. Millions of children have unwanted and abusive sexual experiences.Many of them believe, that someone else knows or should know about their situation, but does little or nothing to protect them.Where is Mom? Dad? A few survivors tell adults what’s going on. They seek protection and help,however oftentimes they are met with disbelief, denial, blame, or even punishment.
How can that be?
It’s hard to imagine that there can be any “good reason” for failing to protect a vulnerable child.Kids may feel doubly betrayed by someone’s failure to help. They were in danger, someone should have protected them and chose not to…period. For this there is no excuse. There is no way to rationalize inaction.Surviving abuse is a long and arduous journey and although scars can heal, wounds can remain constant. Because I am trying to prove a point this article will be a little harsh and may offend a few. For this I ask your forgiveness but I am not sorry.
Recently I was introduced to a young girl that was being sexually assaulted by her mom’s boyfriend. The little girl was lost and afraid and did not know who to turn to. She described how this monster would meet her coming out of the shower and tell her to drop her towel. She cried as she talked about him touching her inappropriately and coming into her room.She was terrified and alone and worse she felt betrayed. Why? She was betrayed because her mother knew about the abuse but did not believe her. She was betrayed because no adult would listen to her. I wish her story was not common however since I began trying to reach young girls over the years, I hear tales of terror like this all the time. Including my own. I am a survivor of abuse and like this young girl, I remember having to double check the bathroom door and make sure it stayed locked, before jumping in the shower. I remember laying awake at night and praying that for once the door would remain shut and no one would enter. I remember the betrayal of family and friends. Her story was mine! I have a dozen other examples and that number keeps growing.
Do you see the pattern? Here 25 years difference and 2 different generations and yet our stories are similar. The common denominator aside from abuse was the betrayal, disbelief and indifference of adults. Being a mom is hard and being a single mom can be very challenging to say the least. It is a privilege so many enjoy but some (married or not), squander away. Daily there are news reports about moms that have harmed or allowed to be harmed their own children. Why? Is it because of men? Are some women so selfish and focused on what or who they want that they are willing to overlook their child to do it? Is having a man more important than making sure that your daughter/son is safe? Does your child not have value?
Put them first.
Understand that ALL claims of abuse must be investigated and believed until proven otherwise. If you are afraid of being alone, then imagine how lonely your child feels living with this nightmare. They depend on you to take care of them. When we made the choice to be mothers, we also chose to forgo self to a point. That means that if we have to let go of someone that is not a fit for our family then so be it. Tomorrow is a new day and eventually we will find love again. If you suspect a child is being abused, please for the love of all things good, call someone. DO something. ACT immediately. Be a champion for someone that needs you. Be that warrior mother and not an enabler.