It seems on a regular basis, there are sexual abuse and molestation stories that make headlines that finally get people’s attention. Truth be known that every 107 seconds, someone in the US is sexually assaulted (see https://www.rainn.org/statistics). The statistics are worse worldwide. These statistics do not surprise me, I am actually more alarmed that many others are surprised. Our society is a petri dish for sexual abuse. Sex is basic physiological need. Healthy sexual development begins at day one of life. Our society tends to shame and repress our natural desires of sexual expression. So what do we do when we are not allowed to find healthy ways to express ourselves, we hide it and seek out any opportunity we can get no matter how wrong it may be. Next, we will take advantage of vulnerable people to get our needs met. On top of this, we have a double edge sword in our society where we train children, our most precious and vulnerable, that they must obey authority figures and they have no rights to say “No.”
Sexual expression is a very complex and sensitive issue because even though we have been trained to feel mentally or morally wrong in most situations, it is fundamentally a physiological need so it still feels good physically. It is not enough to have the one Big Talk or random assertion that You should have no one touch you and to tell mom or dad if someone does. It is a constant open dialogue in small teachable moments throughout life. It is in the subtle messages you send via your choice of words, clothes, media, and so on. Although it angers me how ignorant people are to these messages or that children are having sex and that trusted adults are molesting children everywhere, I understand why we ignore the signs. To accept that this is going on in your city, your school, and even worse, your family, would mean that you have to accept responsibility that this went on without your awareness. Of course it is easier to be in denial, it is a natural defense mechanism as who would want to take any responsibility for suffering.
And the common reactions of when these stories of sexual abuse make headlines, “Yay, lets string ’em by their balls and make them suffer” or “They should rot in jail!” make me feel even worse. You see, those reactions are just as violent as the crimes themselves and no one heals. I was given inappropriate attention since I can first remember, I was molested by a neighbor and sexually harassed on a daily basis whist attending a catholic school. These events had led to traumatic consequences and emotional scars that I am still healing. Yet, I forgive every one of the boys and men who used me as an object and no longer wish ill on them. I know that they were doing the best with the resources they had. I do not blame them as we live in a culture that promotes sexual abuse. I choose to be part of the solution. I empower, educate, and support people to find healthy, respectful, and non-violent ways to get their needs met.
Here are a few links to get you started:
Talking with Your Child About Sex: Questions and Answers for Children from Birth to Puberty, by Mary S. Calderone and James W. Ramey
10 Conversations to Have with your Teen about Sex, Dating & Relationships by Dr. Pepper Schwartz