Straight Talk to Parents About Protecting Children From Sexual Abuse

Jul 17th, 2011 | By | Category: All Posts, For Parents

by Christina Enevoldsen

I come from a long line of parents who didn’t protect their children from sexual abuse. My maternal and paternal grandparents failed to guard my parents; my parents didn’t protect me (my father was my primary sexual abuser); then I failed to protect my children.

I’ve written about some of my own issues that made my daughter vulnerable to sexual abuse from her father in “Confessions of a Child Molester’s Wife”. I’ve received a lot of criticism about that, but the reason I’m open about my past, and especially my failures, is that I hope others learn from my gross mistakes.

When people talk about preventing abuse, most of the focus is on awareness. Even if the whole world was aware, abuse would still continue. I was aware of sexual abuse since I endured it for years, but that didn’t prevent my daughter from being abused right under my nose.

There are more and more programs and books aimed at protecting children from abuse that are directed at children. They are very important since so much abuse comes from within the child’s own home and many times it’s the parents who enable the abuse or perpetrate the abuse.

But there is only so much an outside program can do. The two things a child is taught to do require using her voice to either say “no” or to tell someone, but how much of a voice does a child really have? Usually, only as much as her parents allow. The most effective protectors are the parents.

Talking to your child about abusive situations is part of protecting him, but having a “prevention talk” is only part of the solution. It’s more effective if you talk about these issues on a regular basis and provide a lifestyle of open communication and healthy support. Words are important, but be aware of non-verbal messages you may be sending. It’s how you treat your child, how you treat yourself and the behavior you model that will impact him the most.

With your words:
Teach your child awareness of dangerous activities and the lures used to entice children. For the most part, a child is seduced in the same way one adult seduces another. The offender takes him places, buys him things, impresses the child, and makes the child feel loved. For more information on grooming behavior, visit Child Sexual Abuse: Six Stages of Grooming.

With your actions:
Is your child vulnerable to grooming tactics? A child’s need for love is stronger than his need to avoid danger. In an effort to satisfy his healthy need for affection and attention, he may look for it in unsafe sources. Does your child know he is special to you? Would you be willing to bet his safety and well-being on that?

Would YOU be vulnerable to an abuser’s grooming tactics? Do you have healthy relationships or do you seem to attract abusive people? The abuser’s main objective is to avoid being caught and therefore wants to make sure that he has the trust of the whole family, especially the parents.

“We must learn and then teach our children that niceness does not equal goodness. Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interaction; it is not a character trait. People seeking to control others almost always present an image of a nice person in the beginning. Like rapport building, charm, and the deceptive smile, unsolicited niceness often has a discoverable motive.” The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

With your words:
Teach your child that her body belongs to her and she can say “no” to touch or situations that don’t feel safe. A confusing message often given to a child is that abuse includes the touching of the “part of the body covered by a bathing suit”. In fact, abuse includes any touch with which a child is uncomfortable. It also includes being flashed in the park, having to take part in nude photographs, having to watch someone else perform a sexual activity, none of which may involve touching at all.

Children think in black and white and see people as either all good or all bad. It is hard for them to understand that the grandpa who brings them toys can also do bad things. Instead of teaching your child about recognizing bad people, teach her to recognize bad situations and behaviors.

With your actions:
Do you tell your child to say “no” to unwelcome touch, but tease her with tousles to her hair that you know she doesn’t like? Or “playful” swats to her butt? Do you let your spouse or any other person touch her in ways that don’t seem “abusive” but aren’t pleasant touches? Unwanted touch that is forcibly endured reinforces the belief that her body is not her own and others have power over it.

Is your child empowered to do anything about it if she does recognize a bad situation? Are you willing to back up your child’s “no”? If your daughter told you she didn’t want to give Grandpa a hug, would you force her to do it anyway? Do you think a child’s feelings are less important than an adult’s feelings? Are you more afraid of Grandpa’s hurt feelings than your child’s? Teaching your child to be aware is only effective if she is also empowered to do something about it. It’s crazy-making to tell a child how to recognize danger, but to force her to endure it anyway.

Are YOU able to say no? Do you model good boundaries with your body, possessions and time? Are you comfortable standing up for yourself and for your child?

With your words:
Ensure that your child knows how to recognize an unsafe situation before, during or after the event itself. This is done with his head but more reliably; his body lets him know. Everyone has body signs that tell them when they are uncomfortable, unsafe or scared – racing heart, nausea, dizziness, sweating, etc. If a child knows to pay attention to his body signs, he may be able to recognize a variety of unsafe situations including abuse.

With your actions:
What is your attitude about your child’s feelings? Do you pay attention to signals? Do you only look for signs of abuse and everything else is “no big deal” and your child should just “toughen up”? If his nervousness over starting a new school or taking a big test isn’t validated by you, you communicate that his feelings don’t matter. If you aren’t trustworthy with the little things, what makes you think you’re trustworthy with the bigger things? If you discount his emotions, how do you expect your child to value his own emotions?

Do you listen to what your child isn’t saying? Sometimes a child can’t articulate how he is feeling, but he acts out. It’s common for a parent to assume that the child is the problem instead of asking if there is something more sinister that the child may be reacting to. One way a child “tells” is through their bad behavior. Many children who are abused are discounted because “they always lie” or “they’re just drawn to trouble”. But why do they misbehave? What are they angry about? Why do they ask for negative attention? Since children have black and white thinking, they think their bad behavior equals a bad child. Do you support that belief? If their negative behavior is rooted in abuse, that belief only adds to the shame of the abuse.

With your words:
Tell your child that they can tell you about anything bad that happens to him no matter who it is. A high percentage of sexual abuse is committed by coaches, teachers, clergy, parents and other authority figures. Children are more vulnerable with these people since they are taught to listen to these adults.

With your actions:
Do you give your child permission to tell you what they really think about people, even those in authority? What if your son said something that wasn’t very nice about your best friend? Your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend? Your pastor? Would you be more afraid of your child being “disrespectful” than you would of his possible mistreatment?

Do you have a family culture that allows for reporting misbehavior in all others? Or do you reprimand your child for “tattling”?

Do you question authority? Authority structures are in place to ensure the well-being of those under their authority. Do you question the instructions/policies/doctrines to see if they are for your well-being and for your child’s? If you blindly follow, your child has no protection from authority figures or abusive systems.

With your words:
Abuse thrives in secrecy. Teach your child when to keep a secret and when to tell. If a child is too young to know the difference, he is too young to carry the burden of a secret and should be taught to tell. Secrets that make you feel bad, scared or confused should not be kept.

With your actions:
Does your family have a culture of openness? Is there a spoken or unspoken rule that “we don’t air our dirty laundry in public”? Are you ashamed of something in your household that you expect your child to keep quiet about?

With your words:
Children need to know that if someone abuses them, it was not their fault. Even if they didn’t say “no” or run away, they are not to blame.

With your actions:
When another child hits him or takes his toy, do you respond with, “Why did you let them do that to you?” That places the blame on your child and tells him that he is responsible for what others do to him.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Reduce or eliminate situations where your child is alone with an adult. This will significantly reduce to likelihood of your child being sexually abused. Be aware of anyone who pays an unusual amount of attention to your children.
  • Know who your child is playing with and what they are doing. Not all abusers are adults. Many cases of sexual abuse are perpetrated by another child.
  • Act on suspicions, even if you suspect someone close to you may be the abuser.  It is better to keep a child safe than to risk hurting someone’s feelings or ending a relationship.
  • Prepare yourself. Know how to respond if your child discloses abuse to you. Know who to call and how to help your child recover.
  • If you’ve been abused (sexually or in any other way), start the journey of recovery.  If you haven’t faced your own abuse, you are more likely to either be overprotective or to miss the signs of abuse and fail to stop abuse that you do see. Overprotection is a form of abuse/neglect since it fails to empower the child with confidence to function independently.  Many survivors of abuse make wonderful parents, but you can only be a healthy parent if you are a healthy person.

There is no list that can cover everything a parent can do to prevent their child from being abused.  Following lists won’t provide the most effective protection anyway; the most effective protection is to parent as a healthy, whole person and to provide a loving, secure, supportive family system. I haven’t met many survivors of childhood sexual abuse—if any at all— who had parents who treated them as valuable, who modeled healthy behavior and provided a functional home. Even if the sexual abuser wasn’t a family member, the family is the first “grooming” a child experiences.

My own dysfunction and the home I created out of that dysfunction primed my daughter to be sexually abused.  I can’t change what happened, but as I heal from my own abuse, our family dynamics change.  As I’ve learned to stand up to abuse, so has she.  Even though my children are adults now, the healthy changes I’ve made and the benefits of them spill into their lives.  Nothing can change the past, but the future of my family is changed.

I wish I had learned these things before I became a mother.  I wish my parents had read something like this before I was born.  It’s too late for those wishes to come true, but I hope that other children will be spared the things the children in my family lived through.

Related Links: Confessions of a Child Molester’s Wife
Power Play: How to Recognize an Abuser
Power Trip: How to Journey From Overpowered to Empowered
The Wolf in Shepherd’s Clothing: The “Benevolent” Abuser
How to Handle Disclosure of Sexual Abuse From a Child
Incest: Protect Your Children

Christina Enevoldsen

I’m Christina Enevoldsen and I’m the cofounder of Overcoming Sexual Abuse and the author of The Rescued Soul: The Writing Journey for the Healing of Incest and Family Betrayal. My passion is exploring new ways to express my empowered new life. I’ve recently discovered the joy of waterslides, the delightful scented lotion from Bath & Body Works, “Dark Kiss” and hosting princess tea parties for my granddaughters. My husband and I live in Scottsdale, Arizona and share three children and six grandchildren.

[read Christina’s story here]

Does this resonate with you? Please join in by leaving your thoughts and feelings about this topic and don’t forget to subscribe to the comments.

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  1. Great topic Christina. I relized reading this that I sometimes urged my kids to hug a person when they did not want to do so. It is awful when other’s approval is more imortant to us than safety. I am sharing with all my frineds on FB too because if we share from our pain and mistakes, we make a difference in the world. Thank You! ?

  2. Thank, Linda! I’m glad you’re sharing this. I see these kinds of things all the time from parents who really love their kids. They just don’t know what their actions are really saying. Hugs, Christina

  3. Yes, my paternal side of the family are all big huggers so I learned to hug all kinds of people at a young age just because they were family. A child needs to be allowed to choose who they want to let close enough for a hug. I was always terrified of my grandfather because he was a loud drunk on weekends when we would visit him. Yet, I had to hug him hello and goodbye because that is what our family did.

    In 12-Step meetings I learned that hugging can be crossing someone else’s boundaries so I learned to ask, “Would you like a hug?” Some people say no and that is okay. It is about them and their comfort, not about me and not a personal rejection of me if they say no.

    Christina, I got your message from Facebook about this post and the link to my blog article. Thank you. For some reason, I can’t reply to some of the messages that I get from Facebook lately. Yours is one of them. It is becoming frustrating. Anyway, thank you for the link. I very much like your post. Thank you for sharing it with me. I will later on go on to my blog and add a link back here to your post of today.

  4. Patricia, thanks for using your voice to bring awareness and healing to abuse survivors! I appreciate you very much!

  5. Christina,

    This is FANTASTIC! This is what is missing in so many resources for children and parents when it comes to helping a child to be alert to “right and wrong” or unacceptable behaviour and even red flag behaviour from potential abusers and predators. I am especially impressed with the sections you have written under the headings ‘with your actions’ and ‘with your words’ ~ so many parents don’t realize how conflicting their actions and words are! In my emotional recovery from abuse I had to realize so much of this kind of thing when it came to my own children. And I had to become aware of how I accepted other peoples actions towards them and the messages that they carried too. This is the best article I have ever come across or read about abuse prevention of any kind and I would say that these same tips also apply to helping children recognize emotional/psychological abuse too.

    Hugs, BRAVO and Kudos to you my friend!

  6. Darlene,
    Wow, thanks!

    It was so hard for me to look back on all of these things that my parents did and realize how many of them I repeated with my children. So much of my grief in the healing process is realizing the pain I inflicted on my kids without ever intending to. Children are so vulnerable to these messages. They pay attention!!! What an awesome reponsibility to raise a human being.

    Thank you so much for your comment and for continuing to share the truths like this that you’ve found!
    Hugs, Christina

  7. Great post Christina! Well written, and full of good info. Look forward to checking out the links as well.
    The body section is one that struck me as a growth area…. have been working on that personally in therapy too, but the idea of explaining the bodily feeling of fear, discomfort, and safety is great awareness to talk about with my little darling!

    Thanks for your openness and transparency,

  8. thank you for sharing. i too was abused as a child, but feel that i moved from victim to survivor. I have been married for 17 years and have my own young family. i am also employed in early childhood. although i feel life has turned out well, i have worried about my parenting and perception in this area, mainly developmental norms, as my own compass had been modified. i found this article extremely helpful and validated some of my own thoughts, such as children hugging adults when they don’t want to. a lot of children in my church family are encouraged to refer to the adults as Aunty, or Uncle (i believe it may instill a false sense of safety) and is not something i have pushed my children to do. i also believe in referring to the parts of the body with the correct biological name (to avoid ‘code’ names).
    thank you for this article with very ‘intentional applications’

  9. This information is greatly needed. I can still remember racing home from work frantic because my mother sent my daughter to the home of my abuser alone. She didn’t think anything of it. I talk with her regularly about her private places that no one is suppose to touch…..I’m glad I came across this site.

  10. Lisa,
    Yes, the body stuff is powerful if we teach our children to listen to themselves. Unfortunately, most parents train their children to suppress and ignore their body signals and emotions. Many of parents think that they are preparing their kids to live in the “real world”, but the opposite is true. It breaks my heart to think of all the sensitive kids whose parents are trying to change them into somebody else.

    I can very much relate to you comment about your own compass being modified. My version of “normal” came from adapting to my own abuse, so I parented in many of the same ways my parents did. I took a lot of classes and read a lot of books about parenting, but it was all outward behavior only until I modified my compass through healing. Thanks for commenting!

    I’m glad you found us, too. I hope you’re daughter is okay after that incident! How scary!

  11. wow christina,
    i just got round to reading this post and im so glad i did. i was so worried it would show me that i had down things wrong or missed out something, but apart from my own emotional standoffishness i seem to have covered nearly aall of your headings in the ways you suggested. wow im so pleased with myself, that i have tried to break the cycle and even though i have problems i was aware enough to teach her to trust me to tell if she has problems and i notice when she has them before she tells me. i have always been nosy about where n how my child would be taught, much to her schools annoyance but if they are not doing it right they need telling, and i have done so many times over the last few years. the headmaster used to run from me, but as i have grown and become stronger at staing what i want to o but in the correct manner, usually though i still have moments where the stress is too much. he has gotten used to me as well which has helped me communicate my concerns and see something done , eventually. cos i dont tend to leave it for long before i mention things again and keep doing so till i get an answer that id logical to me lol. all part of my trauma that i went trhough my whole school life and no0body ever noticed or said anything at all, cos we looked clean and attendence was high. it was high cos it got me away from home, mmm and still children and survivors brave enough to speak out get called liars by the rest of the communty they live in, sorry for the rant, but school and authorities missing all the signs makes me so mad, cos there is no need for it in these days of super information and understanding of how not only pschyologically but phsyically damaging any kind of long term exposure to any form abuse is. arghh lol my soapbox

  12. Carol,
    I’m so glad this was a source of affirmation for you. Congratulations on being so proactive! It’s so true that the communities that work with children should be more alert to abuse issues but the world is an abusive system that works to cover abuse out of intimidation of abusers. The more victims heal, the stronger we are to overcome that system.

  13. ultimately i found the voice i was searching for…..

  14. This terrifies me, like literally makes me ill in the pit of my stomach. What if I don’t recognize it because abuse was so normalized for me? I mean, I am teaching my babies that they have the right to say no to ANY touches even if it’s from a person in authority and they can tell me and not be embarrassed if someone does. But they are still little and I know how scary it is when someone hurts you, and I am so terrified that someone will hurt them and I will miss the signs because I grew up thinking those were normal childhood behaviors. I’m so scared. The only person besides my wife I trust to watch my kids is my mother-in-law, and not even her very much because I don’t trust mothers because my mother beat me and blamed me for what my dad did. I don’t know what to do about all of this and I am so scared of fucking up parenting, and I am sooo scared that someone will hurt my kids and I won’t be able to protect them.

  15. JackB
    I can totally relate to what you just shared in your comments. I was so terrified of messing up my kids and I realized that I didn’t really understand what happened to me and believed deep down that I might have had something to do with it. For me, I had to heal “from the roots” in order to gain the confidence that I have today as a parent. I had to dig deep and find out what my belief system was about the trauma I had experienced and I had to discover and face the lies that I believed as a result of that trauma. I was blamed for the abuse that I suffered too. My mother also beat me. There is a lot of confusion around a childhood like that, and I had carried that confusion into my adulthood and into my parenting. (because it was never resolved so it just stayed there)
    There is hope Jack. There is a way to sort all this out! I did it and you can too!
    Hugs, Darlene

  16. JackB,
    It was completely terrifying to me to find out how much I had messed up in my role as a parent. Not only did I fail to protect my daughter from sexual abuse, but I verbally abused both of my children without even realizing that I was doing it. I learned from my parent’s example and I thought that was the way to talk to children. The way I learned to treat my children properly was to face those damaging and hurtful things from my childhood. As I faced those things, I not only healed so I wasn’t parenting out of my brokenness, but I saw the truth about how children ought to be treated.

    As you work on you, you’ll naturally be a better parent. I know it’s such a great responsibility, but healed survivor-parents are some of the best parents I know. You can do it!

  17. Thank you Darlene and Christina. One of the main reasons I am trying to recover and heal is for my kids. I have noticed that I tend to shut down and ignore them when I am stressed because that’s how I learned to handle stuff when I was young. I also have trouble hugging them or showing them any type of affection, actually I can’t really show anyone affection. I want to be a good father, and I don’t want my kids to think that I don’t love them.

  18. i have a three-month-old granddaughter, and i want to send this article to my son, but… i’m sure he and his wife will pooh-pooh it, and be very annoyed at me, too boot – and they obviously are the ones who have to work hardest at protecting that precious little girl!
    i was able to “stop the cycle” and protect my son from sexual abuse, but i sure don’t want it to start over again, with the next generation! [although i was emotionally over-dependant on him]
    any suggestions on how to broach this subject with my son and daughter-in-law?

  19. JackB,
    One of the most painful things in my life is that I didn’t deal with those things soon enough for my kids. That’s really great that you’re recognizing your triggers and the ways you cope with them and are working to change them.

  20. Janet825,
    I’ve had lots of conversations with my son and his wife about sexual abuse and about other abuses. I started talking to them about sexual abuse before their first child was born since we have several molesters in our family. (One of the sexual predators is now in jail and another was reported but not arrested due to the statute of limitations).

    I’ve talked to them about verbal/emotional abuse by telling them about some of the things I’ve been healing from that I had minimized all my life. Since I did the same things to my kids, I told them how sorry I was for hurting them in that way and encouraged them to look at how that affected them so they didn’t repeat the same pattern with their children.

    It’s a very challenging role to be a grandparent trying to advocate for their grandchildren. I can’t say I’ve completely figured out how to do this gracefully, but I’m figuring it out as I go.

  21. my son is aware of [at least some of] the abuse i suffered, but has never really wanted to be,
    and now, his whole life is consumed by his wife and baby, and he has virtually no time for me, at all. [and his wife thinks i am the wicked witch of the west]
    And, i was wrong, that i entirely protected John from sexual abuse- we’re pretty sure there was one incident, when he was 2 years old, that involved his paternal grandfather, but we couldn’t get enough info from him to be sure, because he could barely talk, at the time. i don’t know whether John even remembers what happened. ]
    I never knew, as he got older, whether i should bring it up to him, or not. Oh.lord! that sounds horrible! and i STILL don’t know how or whether to bring it up! – never mind how to bring up the subject of protecting that precious little girl!
    the incident with “grandpa joe” is what alerted me to the fact that i needed to protect John, which i did do by talking with him about body privacy and such, and by making sure he was never again alone with any known or suspected molesters [which meant he was never alone with most of my family!}
    Anyway, i am confused, and don’t know where to go with this.

  22. Janet825,
    I haven’t found any sources that really address the grandparent’s role that take into account the dynamics of an incest family. The things you mentioned touch on exactly why it can be so tricky. Very often, the grandparent doesn’t have much influence with the parents because of wounds knowingly or unknowingly inflicted while they were parenting. Plus, open and healthy communication is viewed as a threat in incest families. Even parents who are determined to do things differently very often fall into the same patterns, especially in regard to communication styles.

    Even with the limitations, I still believe that the best way I can influence the generations who have come behind me is to work through my own issues.

  23. so, in your opinion, Christina, should i talk to John about whether he was sexually abused- or not?
    It certainly would be a good springboard for talking about protecting his child! [or vice-versa: talking about protecting her could open a way to talk about what happened when he was young.]

  24. Janet825,
    Only you can determine how to talk to your son about that. When I talk to my children, I may start out in one direction and have to back off or change direction based on their responses. I not only pay attention to what they are saying, but their non-verbal responses. Their feelings were discounted when they were children and it’s important that I show them that I care about their feelings now.

  25. Knowledge removes boundaries and practice make habits…….
    We need ,let the generation to know abt sexual abuse, and by that it naturally transfer to next genearation
    A child should be built to say NO!….

    The abuses i faced, if wrote into a book ,it will be bigger one. And that affected my self-respect confidence and what all losses till i have faced is all routed cause of that. i realized the heavy darkness in mind when only i was 24.until that turning point i couldn’t even think how much things are going wrong. That event freezed my life. To get everything clear i struggled and i needed to know the route cause of my mental imbalances. i gone to know everything about my parents ,my grand parents ,of my father and mother.(through that i studied their living and their behaviors/those struggles they faced during my mother carried me ).And as being abused when i was so young (i couldn’t remember my age),and being continued by elder cousins . As it made some emotional imbalance ,that i am not able to face a group, cant perform any thing ,And during my teenage ,i became violated in my sexual thoughts (wrong thoughts shared by friends about sex),
    I thank to my mother ,that she is spiritually reserved personality ,every day she filled us kids with good knowledge of god , and to have deep bonded love to my sister brother and father ,and to all my relatives.(the only thing that kept some goodness in me).
    May be my basic nature had the base for pure love everyone, or it is genetically built.
    And the other major issue saved my life is my life itself, It was filled with full of problems (even though we had money, we failed to live good or better)
    My teenage time was so bad (myself I didn’t knew where to go what to study and why? )And my teenage end with worst things.(on the outside I was so good and lovable, but some darkness their in my mind made me bad). Even I didn’t do any atrocious or so cruel thing,I realize I was wrong.
    Issues inside family become worst, it made me study of human issues and the reasons people behaves in particular events and the result of that in future relations, and the impacts in our psychological levels ,and which took our peace and ease of life.

    A 10 years of journey through this, built me the perfect, and while being through this refining process ,i learned and felt about spirituality ,human psychology, hormone production and imbalance ,the philosophy of sex and reproduction ,the anatomy of human body related to sex and reproduction, and the system of sex in our brain.
    Today I advice my nephew fellows and alike and to all come to. The write and wrong of our thoughts.
    Even I failed partially in my life ,toady am so happy that I am capable to do anything to any extremes.

    Am a project Engineer for REDinvent technologies, the responsibilities need to perform good brain functions and human capabilities.
    Once ,many time felt am not fit for life, or either it is not meaningful to me.
    Today on MY 30’s am the most happiest . I respect myself without selfishness …
    I love everyone,coz they got the opportunity to live……I love my parents my sister and my brither..all

  26. Our children should be taught by us only,
    thanks Christina, You are a sensitive mother too.

  27. I really appreciate this and all your articles you’ve posted. I’m currently going through this in my own family. My young daughter recently disclosed an abusive incident involving my husband (who had previously been abusive to me, but had gone through the batterers program more than two years ago, and had NOT been physically abusive to me since). Thankfully, I’ve been involved in support groups, both in real life and online, and had done a lot of reading about how to heal my own self the last two years. I feel this all prepared me for the incident last month when my not-quite-four-year old daughter was telling my son about what Daddy was asking her to do with him. I’m not sure what my “old self” would have done in this situation, but my new self reacted quickly, got my kids out of the home that night, went to the police and we’ve been on a roller coaster ride ever since.

    I’m still extremely shocked by it. I’m still very numb I think. I often doubt that it “really could” have happened, and I think it must be some mistake.

    I’ve been reading your blog articles here regularly, trying to make sense out of all of this.

    I really really appreciate this site and all the time you put into it. And although I myself was never sexually abused, I believe my parents abused me in other ways, which set me up for the abusive marriage. But I’ve been healing for two years now, and now that he’s out of the home I hope to continue to heal and raise my kids in a healthier environment.

    But I’m still dealing with a lot of guilt. My daughter just turned four last week, and I’m struggling with the guilt that this could have ever happened to a little girl so small…..she’s so small….

  28. Mae,
    I know how painful that is to realize that your own child was abused. It’s especially painful when the abuser is someone you trust. My heart goes out to you. There’s a lot to grieve for, but it’s so wonderful that you responded the way you did and are being supportive of her now. By helping her through this now, you’re sparing her so many of the effects that we talk about here. Thank you for sharing this.

  29. It appears that this is an older post but it is brand new to me! My family was such a dysfunctional one where I was never valued, where I was told a child should be seen and not heard, where my father was allowed to abuse me physically and emotionally and my uncle was allowed to sexually abuse me for at least 12 years and neither my mother nor my aunt protected me. In fact I remember trying to tell my mother but couldn’t get the words out. I had no idea what words to use. I had no idea what abuse even meant as I thought this was all normal but weird. My mother told me that when I could get my self together to tell her what was on my mind then she might listen. She couldn’t waste her time if I wasn’t going to talk. I am happy to say that I broke the cycle of abuse with my children but the affects it had on me surely was passed on to them. They are both grown and I am still struggling with feelings of inadequacy and self loathing. But I have a wonderful therapist now and feel that I finally found the right path to take. Now I just need to take it. Thank you for “listening” Christina. I write this with love for you given what you have been through. Stanley

  30. Lijesh, thank you for sharing the struggles you’ve come through and your victories!

  31. Stanley,
    I can very much relate to that devaluing treatment, “My mother told me that when I could get my self together to tell her what was on my mind then she might listen. She couldn’t waste her time if I wasn’t going to talk.” Not only did being treated that way prepare me for sexual abuse (in SO many ways), but it was also more painful to heal from.

    I struggled with the inadequacy and self loathing too and it was looking at how I came to feel that way that finally set me free. Those lies are so awful! I’m glad you’re getting free too.

    Thanks for sharing,

  32. I was abused by my mothers boyfriend for a long tiime. When i found myself in a relaitonship with a woman who had two children one of which was an 8 year old son. I was very protective of them, I think maybe too protective of them. I know how an abuser can seem so trustworthy, and like a good person, so i did not trust anyone around them. Their mother broke up with me, and now she is with a new guy who i know very little about. I still see the children because they want me in their lives, last time i seen them i told them if they were ever hurt by him or anyone too call me. I am no longer in a postion to protect them and that bothers me, i feel like i need to protect others.

  33. The 6 stages of grooming exactly described what happened to me. I blame myself because i was 16 and “should have known better”. but i see how he groomed me and trapped me.

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