One in 9 girls and 1 in 53 boys under the age of 18 experience sexual abuse or assault at the hands of an adult. Not only that, but child protective services finds evidence of child sexual abuse every 9 minutes. Here is the thing, this is a widespread problem, and we are not talking about it enough. I, myself, am a survivor — and it is a story I hide. It is embarrassing to expose that side of me. Though it’s made me the strong woman I am today, it was not an easy process.
Quick background: It was my father. Yes, you read that right — my father. Talk about the confusion I felt when it comes to love… and the numerous terrible relationships I found myself in. Let us not forget the mental effects — depression and all of that jazz. If you have not heard of the term “grooming,” look it up. You should educate yourself as a parent on the topic of child sexual abuse and prevention methods.
This blog is not about my story, though — it is about my present, as a mother. I know there are plenty of moms out there struggling with some hard aftermath of abuse or women too scared to have children because of situations they may come across. I just want you all to know that you are not alone. I hear you, and I am with you.
I thankfully came from a horrible childhood and found the love of my life. After a couple of years of marriage, we wanted to have a child. I honestly was not scared of raising a child as a victim of abuse because I knew I would do everything in my power to protect my own. I would be there for my children and be the mom my mother wasn’t.
But here is the honest truth: There have been hard situations at times. When my son was born, I felt so uncomfortable with diaper changes. How horrible is that? But love was shown to me in horrible ways — that something as simple as changing my son’s diaper gave me a gut-wretched feeling. I would not let anyone other than my husband or myself change him. Of course, after time, I started to ease up and let others change his bum (as long as I was present) after a good bit of poop diapers.
Fast forward to my wanting to tickle my son. Sadly, that was a trigger for me. I had to discuss it with my husband, and he was supportive. Ladies, I pray you have a husband who listens and supports you as I have found. He has been my rock and so understanding. My husband explained that it is okay, and tickling your little babe is normal. That I can show him positive, true love. From that moment on, I took that advice to heart. Here is the thing, love can be hard and uncomfortable when you’re a survivor. But you are these babies’ parents, and you can show them what healthy love is. You can be the parent you never had. No one said parenting would be easy, and it definitely isn’t as an adult survivor.
We do not do sleepovers, as that is a common place where things can go wrong. I only have a couple of people I trust to watch my children. I sometimes wish the list of trustees was larger, so I can have more date nights, but my priority is their safety. We use anatomically correct words, and I inform my child that no one is allowed to touch it unless he gives permission. Of course, I am more stringent than most parents when it comes to a lot of things, but who wouldn’t be in my situation?
I recall an amazing experience I once had at the pediatrician’s office. When my son was 3, he had to do his well-check. The doctor had to check “the boys,” as he called it. He looked my son in his eyes and said, “Look, Mommy is allowing me to take a look at ‘the boys’ right now to make sure you are healthy, and everything is okay. Only Mommy and Daddy are allowed to look at it.” He then asked my son if that was okay, and he responded yes. How amazing was the doctor to make sure my son understood his private part, his rights as a human? It was a moment I will always remember fondly, this doctor making sure my son was okay with the exam. To make sure he understood who is and isn’t allowed to see his private parts. It takes a community to raise a child, and I appreciate that lesson the doctor provided my son.
I now have two children, and the second child has been way easier as I got through the tough triggers with the firstborn. We do heal, we can heal, and you will heal. I promise you.