We can't tell

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. Another important organization is Stop the Silence. There is a plethora of valuable information there about what to do if you suspect a child or teen is being sexually abused.

I carried the fact I was molested as a little girl deep inside for over half my life. (I am about to turn 60). My emotions were constantly up and down like a roller coaster. If he was leaving me alone, I was happy, upbeat and what resembled normal. But, if I was enduring a time of being abused, I got very dramatic, extremely emotional and became withdrawn. I’d sit in my bedroom for hour upon hour, pretending. I’d pretend I was a teacher and with my imaginary chalk in my hand, write messages on the chalkboard, which was actually the draped window in my bedroom. Or I’d stagger books upon each other, pull my chair up to my desk and pretend I was a writer, typing my book about what was going on in my life. I would tell my anonymous story on an imaginary keyboard with non-existent paper. Throughout the years of being molested, if my perpetrator came within sight of me, I froze and my mind immediately went into a mode no small child should be forced into—self-protection. I instantly began thinking, “How can I avoid being touched or fondled against my wishes? How can I keep his hands off me?”

Some sexually abused children will display promiscuous behavior. Where did they learn what they are acting out? Was it on a movie their parents were not responsible enough to monitor, or did it come at the hands of a pedophile? If a child approaches you and shares they have been touched inappropriately, do not dismiss them! Do not write it off as a vivid imagination. Young children do not have a level of knowledge about such things to be able to fabricate them—not in the normal set of circumstances. So, listen to them. And for God’s sake, monitor the programs they watch, games they play and books they read!

To stay ahead of the game, encourage them that you will always be there to support them, and there is nothing they cannot share with you. Be sure they know they can come to you and tell their deepest darkest secrets. Remember to develop a safety code or word, as well.

If a child begins to act intimidated, standoffish, frightened or cries on a recurrent basis when someone they are often around enters the room, your radar should begin going off. Watch. Be vigilant. It is okay to take them to another room and simply ask, “Is there something you want to tell me?” Do not imply that anything has happened. Let them be free to disclose of their own volition.

As stomach-turning as this may seem, should a little girl, no matter if she is a toddler, adolescent or young teen begin having issues with redness, swelling or itching in her vaginal area, first rule out the fact it could be a result of the soap or manner of washing used at bath time.  Then, if you suspect she may have been violated, have a pediatrician examine her immediately. So he tells you to change detergents. If that is the worst that happens, we just give thanks and move forward.

If a child shares they are afraid of a relative, a teacher, any adult or even a member of the clergy, if they say someone 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.

 God, bless the children, and help us keep them safe and protected – to watch video, click here.

Listen to Carolyn’s interview with Cynthia Brennen, on “Help, Hope & Healing.” Visit her Everyday Health blog, Emotional Wellbeing, or her website at orangeblossomwishes.com.

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