With child molestation being so much in the news of late it started my mind wheeling. The media admonishes parents to have open conversations about sex with their teenagers. However I rarely hear about having talks about sexual molestation. It still feels so taboo and hushed up as if its existence is something we should pretend doesn’t exist. Until it rears its ugly head like now with the Jerry Sandusky and Bernie Fine allegations. Then we cringe and show disgust at how horrible and barely human these people are. Followed by a lot of finger pointing and blaming people for not doing enough or being the hero in the situation. Please pardon my tone. On second thought – DON’T.
When I see cases of child molestation I think we are ALL to blame. We like to think we’d do much differently if we had been in a position to help – violently thrashing the abuser and saving the day. Yet we turn our gaze away at blatant forms of abuse we see in public everyday. A child being hit, a woman being pushed around by her guy, a child left locked in the car in searing heat, … I could go on and on and bloody on. In each situation we consider the risk to ourselves first before the welfare of the abused. What if they hurt me? Maybe its just what she gets a kick out of… lord knows what people get into these days… the parents will be right back I’m sure the kid will be fine… I don’t want to embarrass myself… I don’t know the full story… and lastly “Its none of my business”.
When it comes to child molestation/abuse, I feel we need to become educated. Just as much as there are talks of open discussions on race, sexual orientation, and the like. Child molestation needs to be a topic of open and honest discussion. Its crazy how many people around us have been abused in one way or the other as a child and its just been brushed under the rug. It becomes just another thing in the past like chicken pox or mumps. Parents need to know how to educated their children and how to handle it themselves when it happens in their family. Too many times have I heard the story of the child who tells the parent of sexual abuse and they are not taken seriously, or just told simply to not see the offender again. Handled as simply as changing a shirt – done over with. Not many think of taking their child to counseling so that the effects of what’s happened to their child can be minimized as much as possible. Many people just want to forget about it and move on as if nothing has ever happened. These children grow up as adults and will always remember how their parents handled the situation. It may very well impact them more than the incident itself.
I myself have only brushed child molestation personally. Nothing that I would ever go out and claim as anything as serious as what we’re hearing on the news now. Then again this may be part of the problem. By downplaying what happened, I am also playing into the standard of burying things before resolving them. Other than the actual incidents I remember more vividly the action or more the lack of action my mom took. The first time I told of a maintenance man that had “played funny”. I was blamed! I was told that I should’ve known better and what of my sisters. They could’ve been hurt because of my negligence. I felt so bad after that I didn’t talk of it ever again. I must’ve been 8 years old if not younger.
Later when I was a little older an old man approached me. He was one of the men renovating our house at the time. I remember working out in the basement, as was my routine since gym membership was an out of reach dream for a young girl (I think I was 14?). All of a sudden I felt a strange feeling between my shoulder blades. I turned peering through the dim basement and was startled to see HIM there… lurking. I was breathing hard from my exercise and could barely get out “can I help you?” Never will I forget how creeped out I was nor the way the shadows hid most of him except for where the TV illuminated him with varying blue light. Can you imagine my shock when he asked to… see my chest? I remember standing frozen – time must’ve froze with me – not really knowing how to handle the situation… why he was down here (the basement was off limits to them)… whether anybody else was home… whether I should be scared.
“NO” I said. He shrugged and walked away back up the stairs.
That was it. Time moved again and the TV that had sounded muted during that frozen moment came back to full volume. I went back to my workout apprehensive but determined to finish what I had started. I didn’t tell my mom immediately I still remembered the sting from the past… but eventually I couldn’t take the sight of him working in our house anymore and told her. What did she say when I told her?
“He’s an old man that’s how they are. Men will be men.” She said as she continued what she was doing after pausing to hear me out. The man stayed. After that I took care of issues like this silently and on my own. It’s a lonely feeling when you feel the only person you can turn to is yourself.
Now that I’m older I’ve forgiven my Mother. She did only what she knew. Educated with her own experiences and knowledge of the world from her perspective. I just know that when I do have my own children I must become their CHAMPION and teach them about both the beautiful and ugly things of the world. My prayers go out to the children who have been affected by child abuse and the adults who have lived through it. Of late I have been praying in advance for my family to be. The world can be such a scary place. So I am determined to protect my family to the utmost of my ability. Prayers are already powerful. When coupled with knowledge you are a formidable force.