Just leave me alone

Are you aware that 90% of all children who are sexually abused know their perpetrator? NINETY PERCENT!? That means only 1 of 10 molested children is assaulted by a stranger. Several have been asking me what some of the signs of child molestation are. My first suggestion is to go directly to the RAINN websitedo not stop, do not pass “Go,” do not hesitate, but go there, read their information and if you feel it is necessary, call them. They are the experts.

I can only share my personal experiences. What do I wish all the “big people” would have done for me those many years I was enduring molestation? First of all, it would have been great if they had just opened their eyes and ears, perhaps asked a few questions. If a child who is normally bubbly and outgoing suddenly becomes withdrawn and quiet, chances are something is terribly amiss. I am not saying we jump to conclusions that it is molestation, but we should be cognizant the child needs to talk. Something is bothering them.

And, by all means, do not alienate the child. Far too often they are dismissed as “just children with a vivid imagination.” I’m sure those smaller-sized caskets denote a different story in many cases. Ask them how things are going, and always reassure them they have a safe place to fall in you. Never use the words “guilt” or “shame” with them. Listen. I mean, actively listen. You may hear key words that will alert you to potential abuse. How many times did I say, “I don’t want to go over there”?  Or when the perpetrator came into the house, did they not wonder why I immediately retreated to my bedroom? Even as a teenager, I spent most of my time cloistered away in my bedroom. My parents figured it was me “just being a typical teenage girl.” Rather, I was gripping my Bible and praying to God to make the torment stop.

We can't tell

Being told it would be all my fault if I spoke out, or that I’d be sent to that special home where they sent all “bad girls” if I told, and I’d never see my parents again struck terror inside my poor little mind. I mean, how on earth could an 8-year-old little child be held responsible for her own molestation? Yet, the mind games worked, and I held my silence until many years later. Yes, I broke down and told my mother, but that was in the 60s, and we “just don’t talk about this.” I was told I’d be protected, but was not to repeat anything to anyone.

If a child approaches you and shares they are afraid of Uncle Clarence, or that Aunt Gertha touched them in a bad way, don’t grill them, but ask them if they want to share about it. If you are not properly educated or equipped to handle such matters, don’t try to be a super hero. Contact a counselor, call an organization (the link to RAINN is on my website, and they have hotline numbers you can call), but don’t sit on it.

If you do not feel comfortable contacting your clergy (or perhaps they are being suggested as the perpetrator), find a secular agency or counselor who can help. But, by all means, do get help.

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