We teach children about sexual abuse the best we can. We tell them that no one should touch their private parts. We tell them to stay away from strangers and to tell an adult if they are in trouble. We block certain TV stations and monitor their time on the internet. We put volunteers through screening programs and assume that when we send our children off to organized sports or church activities that they are safe. These are good intentions and certainly requirements but it is NOT ENOUGH. Yes, it is important for children to learn how to keep themselves safe but it is no substitute for adult responsibility.
Today I was listening to the morning news and heard about a 4 year old boy being taken into protective custody. His father has been arrested in a child porn bust and he had used his own son for this purpose. What struck me was the incredulous voices of the morning radio show dj’s as they were saying that the people arrested are seemingly normal people. THEY ARE! That is why as a community it is our responsibility to be stewards of children. In more than 90% of sexual abuse cases the child and the child’s family know and trust the abuser.
Here are some statistics taken from the ‘Stewards of Children’ program.
30-40% of children are abused by family members.
As many as 60% are abused by people the family trusts- abusers frequently try to form a trusting relationship with parents.
Nearly 40% are abused by older or larger children.
It is uncomfortable to think about. None of us wants to believe that the trusted adult could possibly be harming a child in their care. It is unfathonable and yet it is happening! It is our responsibility to learn how to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse.
It is a bittersweet feeling for me to be going to take the Stewards of Children program next week. I am honoured to be able to learn how to deliver and facilitate this program and bring it to my community. I am also very sad. Sad that there are so many children who are suffering silently….aching to tell someone…perhaps trying to tell someone in their own way (kids rarely blurt it out..they tell in subtle ways).
Kind of a disjointed post this morning as this is raising some powerful emotion and past hurt for me. My writing at times may not be as eloquent but it is always from the heart…so let me share something from my own personal journal….
June 25th, 2006
The overwhelming feelings that I still can not yet name. Some are ones I know so very well like pain, sadness, shame and abandonment. Some are so new to me; moments of feeling accepted, revealing myself, being still, being connected and being assertive. The many, many pieces of me that are scattered all over, the parts of me that till now have never had a home, have never been allowed inside but rather have lived somewhere, hovering around me. These pieces are slowly starting to come together as a whole. Parts of myself unacknowledged. Parts of me shunned and pushed aside. The pieces of me that are a little girl who was not allowed to be a little girl. The innocence taken from me. Parts of me that had to lie dormant as I struggled to live. From that first day when my abuser touched me, until this moment 42 years later, I have not had a moment that I was not doing all I could to be the girl that everyone else wanted me to be. It was what I needed to do in order to survive. I knew no other way but to pretend. Hide my pain. Put on a smile and be a really ‘good girl’ and make everyone happy. I have been on survival, ‘high alert’ mode for most of my life. No moments of just ‘being’. No walks in the woods enjoying each breath of air and allowing myself to feel the peace without even thinking about it. Instead when I walk in the woods it is a conscious effort for me to enjoy it. I have to battle the unexpected sounds that scare me, the shadows, the feeling that I am not safe, that I will never be safe, that I can not just ‘be’. Today, I now have awareness of these pieces. I am now working to bring the child back ‘home’. I want to let the parts of her live that never had a chance to live before. I want the scared little girl to rest now. Let her be at peace. Bring the many, many pieces of me together in a healthy balance.
Post Script – February 6th, 2009
I am now whole….for the most part. I am a survivor.