Teach Your Children by Crosby, Still and Nash was my mom's favorite song. I'll add a live version from YouTube here for y'all enjoy. ( While I go dry my eyes. Gets me every time.)
Okay, I'm back. In the time I've been a member here, I have yet to post anything in the cider press forum. Here it goes...
I opened my newspaper this morning to find several more stories of alleged sexual misconduct of some familiar public people. There's quite a long list of names in this unfavorable spotlight at the moment and it seems to be growing longer each day.
Now, whether or not these accusations are true, what bothers me is that the assumed victims have waited, in some cases many years, to speak up about it. Seeming to only feel brave enough to do so if someone else speaks up first. Then, we have them coming out of the woodwork to tell their (sometimes) decades old stories.
The manner in which this has been displayed in the news disturbs me. "Don't speak up if you are wronged in any way. Wait until someone else opens that can of worms." Is this the message we want to send to our youth today?
Having no children of my own, I'll ask this of those who do, what advice would you give your child if they were sexually assaulted? We can use the scenario of workplace sexual assault/misconduct.
Having asked that, it would only be fair to ask myself what I would say IF I had children. I would certainly assure them that I would be there to support them when they speak up (and expect them to do so). I would encourage them to use what I refer to as *"the power of now"*. Meaning that, there are many things that are lost when you choose to wait; such as small details, possible witnesses and a great amount of credibility, in my opinion.
I know it isn't an easy thing to do. It can be embarrassing. It can get confrontational. It may cost you your job, maybe a handful of people that you thought were friends, possibly lawyer's fees. I don't know what else. But, I know there can be other jobs and better friends to be found.
(* "The power of now" also applies to instances where you find yourself saying, "I should have said this/done that/or even stocked up back when those ___ were on sale." NOW is a powerful tool.)
With forty shades of green, it's hard to be blue.
Garg 'nuair dhùisgear! Virtutis Gloria Merces
I think this is a really hard and difficult subject. I've thankfully never been sexually assaulted, other than one time some guy I barely knew in high school goosed me. I was so stunned at the time, that I didn't say anything. I never confronted him, I never told on him...I just hoped it never happened again. My brain froze up, and I had no idea what to do. I was not prepared. If, perhaps, I happened to see that dude from high school on the news being charged with assault, I might just come forward and say, "Hey, he did that to me, too." But, I don't think I even knew his name back in high school, let alone now. If it had happened again, I'm sure I would have slapped him or reported him, but it thankfully never happened again...and I never did anything.
I think, maybe, when sexual assault happens, people don't know how to respond..and then it's over, and you just kind of hope it never happens again. That's not the right response, but it happens. So, how do we prevent it?
When I was five, I was out in a tall grass field with my friend, a boy. First he wanted us to show each other what our underwear looked like. So, I showed him. Then he told me it was okay to have sex because we were too young to have kids. His mom had told him, he said. So, we should have sex. I said I was pretty sure we weren't supposed to do that. We then went and played somewhere else. I didn't tell my parents about that for years, because I was ashamed. Why was I ashamed? I had done nothing wrong. But, the feeling of shame was there--I think that feeling is some sort of natural reaction, because so many people talk about shame being the reason they didn't report sexual abuse. So, how do we get past both the initial brain freeze during the assault, and the feeling of shame afterward?
With my kids (son is 4, daughter is 1), we teach that they don't have to give hugs. We teach that if someone else doesn't want a hug, that they stop hugging. (The very basics of consent.) We teach them to tell the teacher (or us) if someone touches them in the wrong places, or if they try to take them away.
As they get older, I think we'll do role play. We have them act out what they would do if someone grabbed them uncomfortably. Have them act out what they'd say if someone said they wanted to touch their privates or have sex.
...Realizing that I was only FIVE when someone first tried to have sex with me, I realize that I need to make sure my kids know about what is sex and private parts at an amazingly young age....like now for my son! No one wants to tell their kids about that kind of stuff or have them think about how bad people can be in the world. The destruction of that innocence is painful and sad. But, the other option is for them to possibly really be hurt.
My parents were foster parents and so I grew up with hundreds of kids coming in and out of our home, and ended up with my parents adopting 6 out of 9 of us children. For the most part people think of kids in foster care as having been beaten up by mean parents, but that is not reality. Back then 9 out of 10 kids were sexually abused...both boys and girls alike. Today with the ability to be aroused by the internet, it is even worse.
Myself: I only had one foster child because her experience was so horrific, yet after a year with us, decided she wanted to go back home. This sounds crazy, but what people do not understand is, for kids, time has a way of making them forget all the bad stuff that happened, and only the good, so when you correct them for not getting their homework done last week as a good parent should do, they remember that, but forget what their dad did to them last year. They want to forget, and in many instances should forget. it is called resiliency in children that adults lack. So to see her go back was heart-breaking, and while it ended up being a big problem again a few months later, we did what we could.
People do not understand either just how much kids can "bottle it up". For our foster daughter, it was so traumatizing that she was a "cutter" which means she was so full of rage, tension, secrets and fear that the only way she could release it was to take razor blades and slash her body. It is pretty messed up, and I don't understand it, but such was her inability to cope.
In some ways all this crap has tainted my own life. Because of the horrific stories I have heard from foster kids in our home, our own foster child, and my now adopted brothers and sisters from happenings before adoption, I see my community in a different light. We have one of the lowest crime rates in the country, yet it is a very dark place when no one is looking. Many times kids bear the brunt of that dark society.
As for my own adult life, I have never said this before, but my first marriage ended when my first wife was raped. It is a small town here and it was no secret that i spent months out of state working for the railroad so the guy came in and got what he wanted, the second time making her leave the state as she just could not handle it any more. And my current wife; while she was not raped, but forced to kiss and elderly man and might have led to more had an adult not entered the picture and stopped it.
But while all this has tainted my outlook on sex, I try not to let it. There has been some really profound moments, like both times I conceived my daughters. There was a time when we had a really nice day in mid May, so the wife and I went out and had a picnic by a stream, fish swimming, sun warming the blanket, and yes her 9 months pregnant. Okay, so maybe it caused our 4th daughter to be born 2 weeks early, but it was beautiful! And so it was after enough time had passed after her birth where we could be together again, so there are some powerful moments that really cement a relationship. I try to hold fast to those, and not to the nasty stuff I know happens to women and kids. That is not sex anyway, it is control.
I think its great that folks are able to talk about such stuff . Nothing bad ever happened to me ( touch wood ) but I spent a few years working with some girls and boys who had all been abused by their parents. I left after being attacked by a young girl who had been raped by her dad many times . I never blamed her as I knew her history . She had a diary and every day she counted down the days until he was due to get out of prison as she believed he was only in prison because she told the authorities What he was doing to her . She propositioned me I being her teacher said no thanks next thing she has a go at me with a carpet knife .
Now that people are becoming aware of such things I hope society can sort stuff out and our kids can be safe. It starts with teaching our kids .
Living in Anjou , France,
For the many not for the few
I got into Tae Kwon Do after that, so I never felt again that I had no other option. Have had some bad things since then, but didn't freeze up, because I knew I had another card up my sleeve. These days I look like a nice middle aged lady, looks can be deceiving. I have bad health issues, and often use two canes to walk, but I know how to use them well. Was working with a couple high school boys a while back, conversation got to "I'm not what you think" one of them got silly, and I found out I CAN still do one evil kick! Then I fall down, but hey! We laughed a lot :) They were startled, their moms don't do stuff like that. I told them not to underestimate anyone, even if they look harmless.
I wanted to throw in my song for that sort of thing: Blood Makes Noise by Suzanne Vega.
And also: I dreamed one night I got married (never have) and me and my dad danced at my wedding to "Teach Your Children" :D