My parents trusted Robbie since he played Mr. Fix-it, but Uncle Robbie played other games—secret games that only he and I knew about. Whenever he fixed something in my house, and no one was around, he asked me to play. At
first, I agreed, but soon I discovered that these were not fun games, they were painful. These were games I never won.
When the winter came, Uncle Robbie decided that I was old enough to partake in activities of a different sort, the kind that exposed me to a more mature side of life. He primed me by stripping away of all my self-worth and offered me the promise of love and gifts in exchange. His sly personality and unpredictable violence rattled me to my core. I loathed myself and yet was helpless as I witnessed my agonizing transformation into a monster; he abused my body and used it for his pleasure. When Uncle Robbie finished his games, he wrapped me in his arms and professed his love for me, coupled with threats if I ever told a soul.
In my work as an author, advocate and educator, I understand how important it is to bring awareness to critical issues. After all, we can’t learn and help others, unless we are equipped with necessary knowledge. However, one of the major shifts I think we need to make in society is to talk less about the issues, and talk more about how we can prevent them from happening.
When I was a child being abused, I wished that someone would have stepped in and stopped it. But there wasn’t. Right now, there are kids being assaulted and that’s why I’m working on a bill to help them, but it’s going to take so much more than that. We need statewide and national legislation and programs in place that work to prevent the abuse from happening to begin with. At home, parents need to be aware of how to prevent as well, and spread that information to everyone they know.
Here are some helpful tips from RAINN on how to help prevent child sexual abuse:
- Be active in the child’s life. This helps to make warning signs of child sexual abuse more obvious and help the child feel more comfortable coming to you if something isn’t right. If you see or hear something that causes concern, you can take action to protect your child.
- Get involved in their daily lives
- Know the people in their lives
- Be wise about picking their caregivers
- Have discussions about the media
- Know the warning signs of child sexual abuse
- Support children to use their voices. When someone knows that their voice will be heard and taken seriously, it gives them the courage to speak up when something isn’t right. You can start having these conversations with your children as soon as they begin using words to talk about feelings or emotions. Don’t worry if you haven’t started conversations around these topics with your child—it is never too late.
- Teach your child about boundaries
- Teach your child how to talk about their bodies
- Be available for your child
- Let your child know they will not get into trouble
- Ask open-ended questions
Please email me [email protected] if you would like to find out more about getting involved with prevention programs for child abuse.