*One of the hardest parts of surviving abuse was feeling let down by my church family. I thought that once I emerged from the abuse, I would be welcomed, I would be given hugs, love, and support. I thought my fight to be free from pain had ended. I was wrong. Instead of hugs, I got stares and whispered about. I was told horrific things to my face of what others thought. People who were near and dear to me my entire life, ran.
I understand now why. Fear.
Most of the negativity I received was from people who also experienced abuse and wanted me to be quiet so they didn’t have to face their own. I also realize now, I needed a good therapist to help me navigate the grief from abuse. I couldn’t expect people who were dealing with the same, help me. How, when they could barely help themselves?
What would help, what action needs to be changed, is support.
Support the person by believing them, listening to them, and helping them get the support (therapy/food/cards/child care/financial) they need.
I will always highly advise seeing a therapist. Someone who has been abused is very vulnerable—to decisions, to memories, to life—and a trained professional can help protect them through their grief.
(*Ev’s Note: This is one of the many private responses I have received based on previous posts about sexual abuse. The writer has agreed to let me share their experience here.)
Below Are Additional Resources and Suggestions for What People Can Do—
- to prevent sexual abuse from happening
- to report offenders
- to talk to their kids
- to talk to others
- to heal if this has happened to them
(*Ev’s Note: I feel woefully inadequate in posting this article of resources. I have almost no experience in this realm, and I’m not a trained professional. However, a lot of you have shared your resources and suggestions with me, so I am passing them on, in hopes that they can help someone else.)
Discuss Body Safety Rules
“This is now hanging in our kitchen. Conscious parenting is so important and I think that’s the direction more of us are going.”
Find a Good Resource to Help You Educate Your Children
10 Powerful Ways to Teach your Child the Skills to Prevent Sexual Abuse
(Great suggestions in this article)
God Made All of Me: A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies
“God Made All of Me is a simply-told, beautifully-illustrated story to help families talk about these sensitive issues with two- to eight-year-old children. Because the private parts of our bodies are private, the home is the ideal environment where a child should learn about his or her body and how it should be treated by others.”
Bailey Bee Believes in Me
“The company’s first DVD, “Bailey Bee Believes in Me, The Five B’s” is exactly what every parent/educator needs to facilitate them in educating their children, from 2-6 years of age. The DVD can become the bridge for parents/educators to watch with their children/students so that they can begin the conversation about this taboo subject.”
Use Books to Help You Heal
The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, 20th Anniversary Edition (Book + Handbook, below)
The Courage to Heal Workbook: A Guide for Women and Men Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse (Book, above + Handbook)
Educate Yourself Further
“This site addresses sexual misconduct by adults and children (yes, children can be perpetrators) and gives guidance for deciding when normal behavior (eg: culturally acceptable expressions of affection, age-appropriate sexual curiosity and experimentation) crosses the line into abusive behavior. The conversation on this site points to the usual resources in law enforcement and social work; the goal is sexual safety and healing for all parties concerned: victims, perpetrators, and their families. Not all perpetrators re-offend, and those who can be rehabilitated should be offered resources to help them deal with the factors that caused them to offend in the first place. Parents need to learn how to keep their children safe from harm; they also must be prepared to deal with a potential perpetrator in their own family. What would you do if your teenager abused a sibling, relative, or friend? (This scenario is often overlooked in discussions, and it is not clear anywhere in society today how this should be handled). This issue is weighty and the solutions are not black-and-white. Hearing the stories of victims is a first step. Teaching our children how to stay safe is another. The next steps are harder, because they require that we understand the other actor in the story—the offender. And that means we need to try to learn how to teach our children not to BE offenders. (Yes, it could be your child; every offender is someone’s child.)”
“More around the topic of, ‘How can I protect my child from sexual assault?'”
Read Additional Perspectives
Post Traumatic Stress in Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (External Blog Entry)
What Goes on In Your Home (External Blog Entry)
“Here are a couple links about sexual abuse that I found to be helpful. Even if you aren’t a victim, chances are you know someone who is. We (myself included!) have a lot to learn about how to prevent sexual abuse and respond when someone is a victim of sexual abuse.”
906-370-7899. She responds to texts and phone calls. She also can refer you to a therapist or help report what happened to you, if you want to go that route.
Talk to a Victims Advocate
“Many counties have a victims advocate. The one in Wright County, MN is Stacy Doyle, Phone 763-684-4537, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a wonderful resource, not only if you have been a victim, but also if you are concerned about this issue and just want some resources. She is caring, compassionate, and a strong advocate.”
Report Suspected Abuse to Authorities
“Tom Rosemurgy is the detective of Hougton County and has offered to meet with folks who don’t know what to do.”
Ask the Right Questions
How Good Parents Miss Child Sexual Abuse and 5 Questions to Change That (I suggest reading the whole article, but here are the 5 questions mentioned.)
- How did you spend your time?
- What was your favorite part of the party?
- What was the least favorite part?
- Did you feel safe?
- Was there anything else that you wanted to share?
Follow the 4 E’s
“Education. How much do we know on this subject to protect the people we love? How much have we taught the youth? How well are we prepared to handle both victims and abusers in out community? Knowledge empowers us. I encourage everyone to learn as much as you can, so perhaps you can see the danger before it strikes.
“Expose. The threat should be exposed, so that we can protect ourselves. If your neighbor was coming home drunk at 3pm every day and was endangering the children, would you do something? Perhaps you wouldn’t. However as much as we would not put our children on a busy highway to play, nor should we knowingly give a perpetrator access to them. This is my opinion.
“Eliminate. Eliminate the threat by getting abusers help along with holding them responsible. There are statistics on how many abused will then abuse. This is why it is so important to break the cycle. When I grew up in my small congregation there were at least 3 pedophiles. So how many victims??? And from these branches how many more?
“Embrace. As a community or congregation we need to embrace this topic. We need to help the victims heal, we need to validate the pain that people have endured, and give our children a voice. Our voice that says I will protect you!!! How each individual embraces this topic is up to them, I pray that not one more child has to be hurt. I know this is not going to happen. Ask yourself, “Am I part of the problem……. Or part of the solution?”
What I Did/What I Suggest
(*Ev’s Note: These are comments I’ve received from others.)
- “We sought out counseling, I confronted my abuser and talked to people/law enforcement whom we felt necessary to talk to.”
- “I think the next step is education. Teach our kids about good touch/bad touch, teach the parents what to do if you find out someone has been abused, etc. Stop it from continuing, stop the cycle.”
- “One way to do something about this is to meet with a few others, friends/family, in your area to discuss it, maybe share some resources, etc.”
- “Preventing abuse needs to start young, with age appropriate information about boundaries, health, body (correct words for body parts!), sexuality, etc.”
- “By me there are agencies that have information on sexual abuse. There are also hotlines, for both victims or concerned people to call. Reporting a suspicion that may or may not be true is less harmful than it being true and not calling. Let the professionals decide. For anyone who is reading this and is being abused now, if you trust a teacher, or someone else. Talk to them.”
- “A few years ago in MN a few of us , including church members, got together at our house to talk about sexual abuse of children……..it was difficult at times, but it was also good because people were there because they saw a need to discuss this. There were just a handful of us, maybe 8 or so, but it was a start. Some of us met with or talked with authorities, professionals, etc. to become more educated, and to see what we can do to help.”
- “I would like to share that for me the statue of limitations had run out. I struggled with knowing a pedophile from my youth was still out there. I did call the authorities in the area he lived. They did not go arrest him on my call, however they told me the information I gave them could help someone else. Another time I reported something and again they checked things out and told me they keep a file on the calls and incidents. If there are multiple calls they take action. I hope this helps someone who may wonder what happens if I call. All we can do is our part.”
If you would like to share any experiences or thoughts publicly, you can leave a regular blog comment down below, or post on my Facebook link. If you would like to submit an anonymous story or resource, you may do so at this link.
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