I was going through my daily activity of reading fellow advocates and survivors posts, articles, etc., when I came across one of our many online connections, Tonya Prince.
When I read Tonya’s article it reminded me of one we published early on. And I’m thankful I came across her’s because I believe we all need constant reminders about this. We cannot talk often enough with our kids about being safer from sexual predators. And it is up to us as parents to let our kids know we have their backs, that we will believe what they tell us, and that they can tell us ANYTHING, no matter what.
What follows is her article, and then some follow-up of ours with a link I believe is extremely important for parents. Thank you for taking time to read today!
— — —
How do good parents miss childhood sexual abuse? It is tragically simple. By not asking the right questions.
One day my son went to a classmate’s home for a Halloween costume party. When I picked him up a few hours later I could tell by the ear to ear grin on his face that he had a great time. As we were about to leave, I was standing at the door with the child’s father and grandmother.
Both adults were giving me a great report about his behavior. Parent relieved. Thank goodness. No issues. No worries.
But as I drove us home I felt uneasy. Something was off. Then it hit me. I swerved into the next parking lot.
I had been here before. Except I was the child.
When parents ask children whether or not they were good in front of children and adults most children feel pressured to say “yes”.
I could recall when I was being abused by a teen relative, my mother would innocently ask me a few questions as we left a relative’s home.
She would ask, “Did you behave? Did you listen? Were you a good girl?”
What mom didn’t know is that the teen who was living there had threatened me before she had arrived. Sometimes he’d even be standing behind her balling up his fists or giving me mean looks.
Asking me those questions, especially in front of a person who was sexually abusing me reinforced in my young mind that I was supposed to do whatever I was told by the person who was watching me while she was gone.
Because I had said, “yes” at the door I didn’t think that I could change my answer later. To do so would mean I would have to explain why I “lied” when she asked me earlier.
So in that parking lot I asked the correct questions.
Perhaps you may want to consider asking these questions the next time that your child is in someone else’s care. I asked my son privately whether or not he enjoyed himself.
1) How did you spend your time?
2) What was your favorite part of the party?
3) What was the least favorite part?
4) Did you feel safe?
5) Was there anything else you wanted to share?
Try to remember to make these questions a consistent habit. Also, it might be helpful to remind your children that they can always add details about what occurred while they were away from you. My mistake that day was a common one for parents. We think as long as we ask questions, we are on top of things.
The truth is, parents have to ask the right questions, at the right time, under the right circumstances.
This article was written by Tonya GJ Prince and was originally published on WeSurviveAbuse.com.
Be sure to follow her on Twitter @TonyaGJPrince
— — —
When we started “Together We Heal, Inc.”, I wrote an article that goes into detail how parents can talk with their kids about childhood sexual abuse. Please take some time to read and PLEASE share with any and all parents you know. It is a straightforward, 7-step, “How To”. One of the things Tonya mentioned we echo with fervor…we MUST be consistent!
Our mission is simple: Help parents better protect their children from sexual predators & Assist fellow survivors find their own path toward healing.
If you are a survivor in need of assistance or guidance, please reach out. Help is available. If you are a parent and have questions, please ask. That’s why we exist. Below you’ll find mine and my wife’s contact info so depending on who you’d feel more comfortable talking with, we’re both survivors and we’re both here to help.
David Pittman: firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Pittman: email@example.com
As we say every day…Together, We Can Truly Heal!
Copyright © 2015 Together We Heal, Inc.