Your Child and Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse happens all the time, to girls and boys.

In light of the recent, horrific scandal at Penn State (my Alma mater), I want to ask that you take very seriously how prevalent sexual abuse is.

It happens in church Sunday schools, Awanas, and vacation bible schools.

It happens at summer camps.

It happens with friends.

It happens with uncles and aunts.

It happens with family friends.

It happens with those you trust.

It happens at the Day care.

It happens at the babysitters.

It happens even when you’re around.

Adults abuse children. Children who were abused abuse other children (often times).

It is a cycle that has crept into the childhood landscape bringing shame and trauma. And listen friends, your children aren’t just going to tell you about it.

You must ask them. You must ask specific questions. You must take the time to gently, lovingly, talk with them. Even as young as two years old (very gently and wisely).

Ways to talk to your little ones about abuse:

“God made our bodies, and no one is ever supposed to touch your private parts {be specific in naming the parts and pointing them out}.”

“Has anyone ever touched your bum (or whatever word you use)?” Ask if anyone has ever touched any of their private parts – go through each part specifically. Ask if anyone has showed them their private parts.

Do all of this gently and without a trace of shaming in your voice. Let it be natural, and smile. Keep it light.

Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to the child’s stuffed animal, asking them questions about your child (so that your child can have the stuffed animal respond).

If you notice your child acting strangely, or getting grumpy or difficult before you go to a certain place, take note-ask questions-be alert! Take note about how they act differently than other children in otherwise normal situations. You’ve got to be an attentive parent. Pay attention!

Listen! Always listen to your children. They can’t always communicate clearly. If they say they don’t like someone or don’t want to be around them, or they say, “bad person” or anything like that, listen! It may be their way of alerting you.

Believe a child if they tell you they are being abused. 

Don’t make your child hug someone they don’t want to. Don’t make your child be held by someone they don’t want to be held by.

Let them know you are a safe place for them and will always listen to them.

There is so much shame in sexual abuse that children rarely say anything.

Above all else, pray. Pray that nothing would happen to them that hasn’t first gone through their heavenly Father’s loving hands. Pray that Jesus’ voice would be lounder than the enemy’s.

Also, remember that children are just that, children. They can’t be expected to protect themselves. You may tell your child that if anyone touches them they can scream or slap them…and I say, yes, tell them that. But remember that if someone does abuse them and they don’t scream or slap them, they may feel shame that they didn’t do that. So make sure that you tell them that it’s okay if they don’t, and just to always tell mommy and daddy.

Be trustworthy. Talk with gentleness. Pay attention to your gut.

Don’t leave your children alone with anyone that you do not absolutely trust. Don’t take a chance.

You can’t control evil, and you will not always be able to protect your child from abuse, but you can pray.

Never stop praying for your children.

If something has happened to your child…

Know that God is faithful and is with your child and your family. Don’t beat yourself up, abuse happens in families where the parent is attentive – evil finds a way. Go to God and accept grace so you can move forward and help your child. Pray for your child that Jesus’ voice would be louder than the enemy’s, and that your child would listen to Jesus’ voice. Ask the Lord for a verse for your child that you can pray over them. And friend, keep steady. You are fighting a spiritual battle for your child. Don’t give up, stay alert, persevere. It’s hard work, and you will have to make sacrifices. Keep on. Believe that God will bring good (He is faithful, but the enemy will try and steal this truth from you). Pray for discernment on whether or not you should put your child in counseling, and ask God for specific ways to help your child in the short run and the long run. Finally,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Ephesians 6:10-18

 

Recommended reading:

7 Steps to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse

The Molester

Warning signs of possible abuse

Protecting Against Child Abuse in Your Church

“Slate of Eight” Restitution Suggestions for SGM & CLC

P.S. Get pornography out of your house. Period.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/noel.mcneil.5 Noël McNeil

    This is so heavy in my heart. I’m saddened by how many people I know have suffered through this. I am VERY protective of my children and pray often for their safety. Thanks for posting about this!

  • RachL

    I think another piece of advice is to believe a child if they tell you they are being abused. I seriously cannot believe that people think a child would lie about this. And, if they did lie, the accusation should still be thoroughly investigated. Children only talk about what they are exposed to. A child won’t make this up unless they have had someone put the idea in their mind. As a survivor of abuse, I can tell you that I told several adults before someone helped me. {Also, on a side note, please don’t assume that everyone (or most) who has been abused will abuse. I didn’t.} Thank you for spreading awareness. We don’t need to live in fear, but we do need to be engaged and present in our children’s lives so that we will not miss the signs.

  • C in FL

    This means more to me then you will ever know. This past summer (a year ago July), my 6yr. old was brave enough to share that his father (my ex husband) had been touching his privates. To say I was (and still am) shocked would be putting it mildly. I thought I had always covered the “this is your body and these parts are for your hands only”. Bottom line, it can be ANYONE and signs are not always there. I am so grateful my son was brave enough to tell the truth and not keep the secret. The road has not been easy, but I am humbled by my amazing child who makes progress daily and by my loving Savior who has carried us through this difficult time.

    Listen to your child, be their voice and pray.