FYI: Possible TRIGGER WARNING
I need to share something really raw and unsettling.You might not want to hear this. If you’re someone who keeps scrolling, it’s because you’re avoiding all the awful things happening to our children in the world. With all the recent child sex trafficking coming to light, I need to tell you something. It will make you sick. You won’t want to keep reading, but please do. We need to use our voices and make a change.
Some years ago, Justin and I went on a date to celebrate our anniversary. Justin’s youngest brother often babysat our kids. On this night in particular he came to babysit. He was close to our family. He would come over just to play with the kids. He was the best Uncle. The kids loved him and had a great time together. When we came home that evening, his brother nearly darted out the door to leave. It was unlike him and we found it to be off. He typically would stay over and sleep on our living room couch. This night was different though. That night while I was asleep, my child woke me up. My child was completely soaked in urine in their bed. My child was potty trained day/night. This was unusual. It was an extreme amount of urine and it concerned me. That next morning was a normal day for us. Justin left for work early morning, I got up with the kids and was making them breakfast. Except my child said something to me that stopped my heart. It was the single most awful thing I have ever heard as a Mother. I remember distinctly that exact moment, I was cooking toast. The next thing I know, My child is telling me sexual things that Uncle J had done to my child. I CANNOT tell you what that felt like, but I will try. It was as if someone took my whole body, and threw me in front of a semi truck going full speed! My baby had just been sexually abused. My baby was abused by a family member. Someone we trusted. Someone we loved. Someone we let into our home. Someone that was within a small circle of who we LET watch our children. Someone my child was very close to. The SICK truth is that IS EXACTLY how it happens. It is not the creepy old guy/lady across the way, that ends up being the pedophile IT IS the people you allow in your home. The ones you trust. The ones you love. Often times family. If you’re wondering how the rest plays out, you guessed it. Our world crashed and it crashed hard! Our baby was suffering from trauma. We were suffering. Our family had some much hurt. The things that unfolded after this are tough to talk about, but I am going to share a little about what we did. My purpose here is to educate & to protect the children. After we found out our child had been sexually abused, while in the care of the Uncle. (Who was a legal adult by the way.) Justin and I were beyond heartbroken, but we were not on the same page. I wanted to notify the police immediately. He however wanted his brother to admit it and turn himself in. For me personally I could care less who you are, my best friend, My parent, Santa Clause it DIDN’T matter! Wrong IS still Wrong! We obviously made the wrong choices. We had never been in this situation. The good thing in this, is that we had already educated our children before the abuse happened on “Safe touches” THIS is why our child told us. They knew it was WRONG! Children young enough to talk, can be educated. My older brother is a police officer and at the time, worked in child sex crimes. He had been educating me for years about this. AND guess what!? It still happened to our CHILD! While we can’t predict this happening, we can do our best to use our voices and stop this from happening to another child! We did everything we could, and no it wasn’t in the correct order. We messed up, and I hate that. I am the biggest advocate for my children, and even with what I knew I still didn’t report it the correct way. This IS really hard to write, and maybe I’m not explaining it well enough. Hang with me for a bit though, this is important.
The days after the sexual abuse were tough. Lots of sleepless nights. Justin’s brother would never say “I didn’t do it” never once would he say that to us. He never denied it. But he never admitted it. I knew it was true. The things my child told me, we’re not age appropriate information my child would know. After waiting for him to turn himself in, we finally made the RIGHT decision and called the police. An official report was filed and an investigation was opened up. After this, the family completely shunned us. As if we had done something awful TO THEM! The police had told us not to contact anyone in the family. During the time Justin’s other siblings (there’s 8 total) completely wrote us off. Before ever hearing what had happened to us, they did not want to speak to us. We received hateful messages from some of them. It was horrifying, lonely and dark. Here we are with our child, who has just been sexually abused and we were being called “liars” and hateful things were said to us like, “we made it up” “it didn’t really happen” “your Child’s confused” “Whitney’s family probably did this” and etc. It was hurtful and painful. never ONCE did one SINGLE family member ask US how our CHILD was DOING! Never once did a family member on that side, say “Hey how is your child doing? Is there any way I can help?” NOTHING. It was DEAD silence. My heart broke for our child on SO many levels. I can not even tell you how much it hurt. I would willinly take ALL the hurt, if it was just directed at ME and NOT my child. My child lost all the family that day. Uncles, Aunts, cousins and most importantly the Grand parents. The investigation was long, painful and powerless. In the state of California, when sexual abuse has occurred on a minor in order to press charges both parties have to have matching stories. Meaning my child had to tell the police exactly what happened, and my Child’s story had to match the offenders story. The stories had to be the same. MY child was put through some very uncomfortable interviews where my child told what happened. HOWEVER, Uncle J did NOT confess. the detective could not get it out of him. I remember the detective telling me, I know he did it, I just don’t have the proof I need to convict. AND just like that, the case effing closed! It WAS DONE! While we sat in our misery, grief and pain helping our child through the healing process of sexual abuse HE was FREE! He went back to his regular life, babysitting other children and seeming to always be around children. I was sick to my stomach!! How can our system protect the evil ones? The ones who have committed the crime? How is that my child told the truth and yet he is still roaming the world a free man!? Where we sit, we have lost all our family on that side. No one wanted anything to do with us. The grandma to our child didn’t completely give up, once the dust settled years later she would leave gifts on our porch for our children. But never see the kids or ask about them much. We would try and have a relationship with our children’s grandparents, but somehow we were always burned while doing so. WE have protected our child from this disgusting human since the offense, if you could even say he was even Human after hurting a child the way he did.
If you’re wondering where I am going with this story, I’ll tell you. You may not always be able to protect your children, but you CAN teach them what is ok and what is not. Tell them about safe touches, good and bad touches, tell them their bodies belong to THEM, teach them to talk to you whenever they need to, when they are sad, happy, afraid. Establish that relationship early on. We always have talked to our children, and thank God our child knew what happened wasn’t a safe touch.
Also, if you know the offender protect your family from him. He is a charming Christian and will definitely fool you, if you think he wouldn’t do disturbing things to children. Protect your children. He still roams a free man. Not a single punishment was given to him. Our system is broken and unfair. We have lost so much. Our child has lost so much. At this point sharing this publicity, is something I feel is vital and important for the safety of other children. Child sexual abuse is where child sex trafficking begins. Let’s put an END to this disgusting violence!
Here are some warning signs to be aware of:
SIGNS OF SEXUAL ABUSE
- Over sexualized behavior or sexual interest that’s inappropriate to the child’s age is the biggest red flag / sign of sexual abuse
- Use of explicit sexual language that’s age inappropriate
- Infections, sexually transmitted disease, pregnancy
- Trouble walking, sitting, running or doing normal activities
- Genital pain
- Blood in the child’s underwear
- Abusing other children (sexually)
- Inquiry and statements of sexual abuse
- bed wetting
Also, this book is a great read for young kids. It opens up the conversation of good and bad touches.
You can purchase on amazon for $8.19
Here is some good information on how to get help if your child has been sexually abused:
What Should I Do After A Child Tells?
When a child discloses sexual abuse, here are some important things that the child will need you to do:
The child will look to you for cues that they will be okay. Unquestionably, sexual abuse can change a child’s view of the world. Yet, regardless of how devastated you are, they need to believe that they will be alright, that they are not “damaged goods.” As is true for other severe traumatic events, with protection, support and specialized treatment, children can – and do – recover. Children can – and do – go on to live full, happy, productive lives. Lots of successful people, including many famous figures, are survivors of sexual abuse. Breaking the silence is the first step.
Believe what they say
Thank the child for telling you. Let them know you love them. If the disclosure is hard to believe, keep reminding yourself that false disclosures are rare. If you absolutely feel you need more information, think of the first step: stay calm. Ask clarifying questions in a matter-of-fact way. Be very, very careful to avoid questions that suggest you expect or want a specific answer (for example, stay away from leading questions such as “Did somebody touch you right here?”).
Try not to show relief or disapproval to the answers your child gives. When children detect in others pain and upset resulting from their disclosure, they will sometimes try to take back or “recant” the disclosure. This is common and is not necessarily an indication that the abuse really didn’t happen.
Restoring safety is crucial and should be considered a priority. Sexual abuse takes away a child’s sense of control over his or her surroundings and can lessen the faith that adults will protect them. Immediately establish a plan with other adults so that unsupervised contact with the person who has abused is eliminated. Help the child understand that the person who abused them did something wrong, and that this person needs help to stop hurting others.
Pay close attention to the child’s cues about what they may need to feel safe. What the child needs may be different from what you may expect. And what the child may say they want may not actually keep them safe, such as spending time alone with the abusive person. That said, it’s always best to take the extra step to give the child a greater sense of safety. Even if the requests the child makes seem irrational, (“I want to wear two pairs of pajamas tonight”), building up their sense of confidence and security is crucial.
You can also help the child feel safe by demonstrating your willingness to protect their privacy. The sexually abusive behavior may feel extremely personal to the child. Be careful not to talk about the abuse with anyone who does not need to know. Depending on the age of the child, overhearing others speaking about the abuse can cause embarrassment and an increased sense of feeling exposed.
Free them of self-blame
A child disclosing sexual abuse needs to be re-assured that they are not to blame in any way. They are not to blame for causing it. They are not to blame for not stopping it. They are not to blame for not telling about it. Though it may seem unimaginable to the outsider, shame and self-blame are some of the most common responses to sexual abuse, and some of the most difficult to overcome. Some adults may find themselves privately blaming the child for not telling sooner.
Sometimes, as an adaptive measure, children take responsibility for the abuse rather than acknowledge how out of control they feel. It is natural for children to feel they are the cause of the behaviors and feelings of those around them.
Remember, even if a child gives permission or acts willingly, this never implies consent. A child’s permission or even request to play a sexual touching game never excuses the adult (or teen) from taking full responsibility for the interaction. It is always the adult’s responsibility to set the limit or say “no.” The child is never accountable. Stressing to the child that the person who abused them did something wrong, and that this person needs help from other grownups to get better. This can help free the child from feelings of self-blame.
Express your rage to appropriate people
Anger or outrage is a normal and appropriate response when we are deceived or when someone violates our sense of safety, or when someone harms our own children. Be aware that a child may believe that they are the cause of the rage they see around them. Choose friends and professionals who can support you in expressing your reactions. Find someplace away from the child to express you anger and grief.
Some adults may mistakenly assume that a child will feel better if they hear that the person who abused them will be severely punished or harmed. Even if the child is also angry, threats of violence or punishment may frighten a child even more, especially if the child still has positive feelings toward the person who abused them.
Many people are tempted to handle a disclosure of sexual abuse privately on their own, especially when the abuse happens among family or friends. But that can be a mistake and can further isolate those who need support.
Recognize that all family members are affected when a child has been abused and each one may need special help. Typically, these kinds of family conflicts do not get better without help from an outside specialist who can assist in the healing process.
It is in the whole family’s best interest for an adult within that family to be the one to reach out for help first. Waiting for a community member to recognize the problem from the outside, and then file reports on suspicions of abuse, can result in more damage to the family. Sexual abuse of children is against the law in all 50 states. By taking action, you may reduce the risk of others in your family or community from being sexually abused.
Many people who sexually abuse children are relieved to be stopped and are good candidates for specialized treatment to help manage abusive impulses. Secrets support everybody’s shame. By getting effective outside help, everyone involved has an opportunity to begin the journey towards recovery.