Monday, October 15, 2012

Sexual Abuse: One Mom's Story

When I was 5 years old, we lived in Florida, in this nice little neighborhood. I made several friends, one that lived across the street from me. Her name was Anna and she had a little sister named Sara that was around 3 years old.
Mind you, this was back in the late 80's. Back when kids played without constant supervision. I was allowed to ride my bike around the block, go to friends' houses, etc, etc.
One day, Anna, Sara, and myself were playing with a few other kids from the neighborhood. We were playing hide and seek. The ages of the kids playing ranged from 3 to 13, both boys and girls.
There was this boy...he was around 13. He told me, Anna, and Sara he knew of a place to hide that no one would find us. We'd played with this kid before though I can't remember his name now. He seemed okay and really, at 5 years old, everyone seems okay. So we followed him to this awesome hiding space.
It was in the middle of a wooded area with a lot of Palmetto plants and stuff like that. Where he led us, it looked like it was a hangout. There was a tarp tied around some of the trees to form a shelter, some blankets, things like that. Naturally, we thought it was cool..it was like a little fort. Even girls like forts.
We sat down and forgot about the game of hide and seek. This kid has Crazy 8's and Old Maid. So we started playing that game. The kid told us that we could come back anytime, but not to tell anyone, because it was a secret. He said for us to come back tomorrow after school, he had a surprise for us.
The next day, we go back and he shows up a few minutes later. We ask us what his surprise is and he tells us that he wants to play house, but he wants to be the husband and he wants all of us to be his wife. He said that we had to play or we wouldn't be allowed to come back, so we agreed.
I'm not sure how long it was into the game, but at some point, it turned sexual, though I didn't know what that was at that time. I don't remember exactly how it happened, but I do remember this kid telling us that we had to do things or he would kill us or kill our family. And I remember being terrified. Without going in to a ton of detail, this kid started making us touch his private parts and he started touching ours.
We heard our parents yelling for us. I guess the kid knew our parents would come looking for us, because he told us to get dressed quickly and he told us that if we told our parents or didn't come back the next day, he'd kill us and them. I went home and tried to act natural.
I remember going back the next day and the day after that. Sparring you the details, I remember that we had to do things to him and let him do things to us and we had to do things to each other. I do know that there was penetration, I don't know if it was with his penis or fingers.
We were suppose to go back the next day, but when I got home from school, my mom noticed something was off about me. I finally broke down and told her everything. She told her live-in boyfriend and he actually wanted to spank me for it. Then they told Anna's parents and together, they all went where we thought the boy lived, but apparently he wasn't there. I don't think he was ever caught. We finally ended up moving to Kentucky, where I saw a couple of doctors and child psychologists.
I'm posting this because, as I was skimming through November's Parents magazine, I came across an article about sexual abuse and how to talk with your child about it. Most kids are too scared to talk to their parents. They are ashamed, confusing, guilty and scared.
According the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18. 90% of all offenders are relatives or neighbors, family friends, teachers and coaches.
Recently, in Colorado, a 10 year old was abducted and later found dismembered. I don't know if there was sexual abuse or not, but the story was heartbreaking.
We live in a world where our children aren't safe anymore. I remember, even after being sexually abused (not only at the age of 5, but also at 9 and 11...that time by family members), being allowed to roam the neighborhood. When I was a kid, I'd walk to my aunt's house roughly a half mile or so away. My time outside didn't end when the street lights came on. It was safe...or so we thought.
Now, as a mother myself, I wish my kids could experience that, but sadly, they don't. While I won't say that I'm a helicopter parent, I'm not a free range parent either. I'm a mixture of both. I let my kids play outside, but most of the time I'm either on the porch watching them or I have the doors and windows open and they have to play in the front yard. When we are at the park, I let them explore by themselves, but they are never out of my sight. At stores, they are allowed to roam the aisles to look at toys, as long as I'm in the next aisle over and I frequently call out to them.
This post had been on my mind so much last night that I had a dream about my youngest, who is 3, being kidnapped and I remember waking up paralyzed with fear. She was there, on my floor (it was raining last night and she doesn't like the rain, so we moved her mattress into our room and she slept on it on the floor next to me), safe and sound.
I remember, as a kid, being allowed to walk around the various festivals with my friends or sisters. I wouldn't DREAM of letting my kids do that now. One year, when the twins were 4, we went to a festival and watched a parade. We had so much stuff in our hands from the parade that I was having a hard time holding their hand. I got a bag from a vender and while I was putting everything in it, I noticed Sebastian had gotten away from me. Freaked me out.....turned out, he'd decided to play hide and seek with me and was hiding around the corner. When I found him, 30 seconds later, I alternated between wanting to hug him and wanting to shake him.
I plan to sit down and have a talk with my kids about the dangers of being sexually abused and
kidnapped. That article in Parent's magazine provided tips on how to do so with age appropriate advice. We've taught them, since a young age, to scream stranger danger if they thought someone was trying to hurt them, but they are just so friendly sometimes..
Parents, please talk to your children and make them aware without scaring them. There are dangers out there. And watch them, but don't smother them. Allow them to grow under your supervision. And please pick up the November edition of Parents magazine to read this amazing and helpful article.

~Sarah

3 comments:

  1. I am so sorry that you went through all of that as a child. You are so brave for telling your story. I wish I was as brave as you. Maybe one day I will get the courage to tell my story. I am so sorry that you mother's boyfriend wanted to spank you when you told your mom what was going on. I have to thank you for telling your story because it always gets the "conversation" started and people talking. Especially the one's with children. I applaud your strength.

    ReplyDelete
  2. We just need to be hovering parents but in a good way. We can let the girls play together but always be near. Check on them often. And educate them about the dangers of people like that asshat. It breaks my heart that these things happen. I just wish more parents would educate their children instead of giving them the hope that God will protect you. I'm not trying to knock down anyone's beliefs but i'm just saying bad things happen to everyone of every background and religion etc. Educating our children on how to handle those situations and remembering we don't live in a society that we used to. You are so incredibly brave for posting this- braver than I am. I applaud you for this. ♥~♥

    ReplyDelete
  3. I want to reach through the computer & hug you. I know how hard this must have been for you to put out there, so thank you. xxoo

    ReplyDelete

So....what did you think? And are you THAT Sarah Michelle?