Continuing the Conversation Blog
Confident Parenting In A "Me, Too" World
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
When I was four, Billy, a teenage hired field-hand wanted to play a secret game with my older sister and me. I think it was because I was with my sister—I always felt empowered when we were together, and that Billy hadn’t taken time to groom us—manipulate us for the purpose of sexual abuse, that I ran and told my dad.
My father did three very important things for me that day: He listened to me, he believed me, and he took action. I can still see him marching toward the barn. I can still remember my first thought as I watched him go: I bet I just got Billy in big trouble. I felt ashamed.
Billy didn’t get himself in trouble. I got Billy in trouble.
After puberty and years later . . .
When I felt the hard slap on my butt, I stopped in my tracks. Stunned. As I began to realize what had just happened, I could hear their laughter. Looking toward the sound, I saw two young men, running through the home goods department of the Sears store, glancing back at me. I was twenty-one. I felt humiliated.
Were my jeans too tight? Why did they pick me? Me. It’s where my thoughts went immediately. What was wrong with me?
When one of my daughters came home from school and told me she was violated in her classroom, I called her guidance counselor. *
“Why didn’t she scream?” he asked. It was his first question. I’m glad my daughter didn’t hear him. I can only guess what she would have felt—shame.
Why didn’t she . . .?
People wonder why children don’t just tell—why women, men, boys, and girls don’t just scream.
And I tell them, as politely, and as compassionately as I can, what I told my daughter’s guidance counselor, “The shame is immediate. And shame is the great silencer. She believed it was her fault.”
Victims of sexual abuse blame themselves for the grievous choices of their perpetrators. (TWEET this!)
Sadly, we will have “Me, Too” stories for as long as human beings draw breath, as long as there is good and evil. And I pray your children never have their own story. It’s why I speak about prevention to as many who will listen, and offer free prevention resources on our website (Learn our prevention tips in 5 minutes.). But if your children do, I pray their stories end like this one:
Several years later after many conversations about sexual abuse with my children . . .
My young adult son came home from work distressed. Without warning, his much older boss, a husband and a father, had made an unwanted physical advance.
“He called me into his office,” our son told us, “where there would be no cameras, no proof,”
“What do you want to do?” We asked.
“File a police report. Even if they can’t do anything about it, I want them to know. Maybe someone else will report in the future. I keep thinking of all the kids who work there, who won’t know what to do. I’m so glad you talked to me about this stuff.”
We were never prouder of him. Our son took back his power. And even though he was correct, there wasn’t enough evidence, the police took his statement and thanked him.
I don’t know if we can replace the shame our kids will feel or change their initial thoughts of self-blame should they encounter abuse. When it comes to sexual violations, our default buttons are preset.
Sexual abuse attacks the dignity of its victims. (TWEET this.)
But by engaging our children in conversations about prevention throughout their lives, we can change the outcomes.
We can teach it and preach it, with love in our eyes and passion in our voices, to our children and their children, at least once a year and every teachable moment in-between—"If anyone, and I mean ANYONE, speaks to you, or touches you in an inappropriate way, tell me. I will listen.”
Then we, as moms, dads, grandparents, and trusted care-givers can be confident that we’ve done all we can, within our power, to prevent an incident of abuse and a lifetime of shame.
Prevention begins with conversations and shame ends with conversations. (TWEET this.)
Begin the conversation with your child today with our free conversation starters.
You can do it! We can help.
* Please learn from my mistake. If your child ever discloses abuse to you, call the police, not the school, the church, or the organization. Schools, churches, and organizations are not trained in the complexities of forensic interviewing and may not understand what’s in the best interest of your child. But you will.
Carolyn Byers Ruch is the founder of Rise and Shine Movement and author of the children’s books, Ana’s Song and Bobby Gilliam, Brave and Strong, both tools for the prevention of childhood sexual abuse. She has spent the past ten years championing the issue of childhood sexual abuse and has received training certificates from some of the leading organizations dedicated to protecting children. A former teacher and mother of seven, her life has been enriched through adoption and foster care.
Christy Willard From At 1/25/2018 9:30:51 AMThank you for sharing so openly! It's hard enough dealing with our own "me, too" stories, let alone knowing the best way to help our kids possibly thru their own. The idea of that feels hard, but you're right, the only way to prevent it, the only way to keep shame away is to talk about it.
Would your child keep a
secret from you?
Get our FREE video:
What If? Conversation Starters
or never miss a post!
We're moms, just like you, who want to help parents protect their kids from childhood sexual abuse.
You may also like...
One Essential Parenting Decision You Will Never Regret
Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Rise and Shine Movement's 5th Annual Stuffed Animal Drive
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Processing the Larry Nassar Childhood Sexual Abuse Case
Thursday, January 25, 2018
Are You and Your Children Free To Be?
Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Three Questions Matt Lauer Should Ask His Children
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
When You Catch Your Child “Playing Doctor”
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Blush-free Family Movie Nights
Friday, July 14, 2017
How You Can Build a Relationship with Your Son by Talking about Porn
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The Day an Innocent Search Turned Up an Image My Son Can’t Erase: 5 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe
Thursday, April 20, 2017
How to Speak about Porn and Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child
Thursday, April 13, 2017
How You Can Help Protect Your Son's Innocence By Talking About Pornography
Thursday, April 06, 2017
Will Your Son Know What To Do When Someone Shows Him Porn?
Friday, March 31, 2017
Do Your Children Love Our Stories?
Wednesday, February 01, 2017
Why It’s Good for Your Child to Hurt: A Lesson from a Sexual Abuse Survivor
Saturday, January 07, 2017
A New Website, A New Video -- Our gifts to you!
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Two Fearless Questions to Ask Your Child After a Playdate
Thursday, June 23, 2016
4 Things Perpetrators Don't Want Fathers to Know
Monday, June 13, 2016
April Awareness Month Wrap Up
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
2016 Stuffed Animal Drive Underway!
Thursday, March 31, 2016
The Winner Is (Our Bobby Gilliam Book Giveaway)
Monday, February 01, 2016
It's a Bobby Gilliam Book Giveaway!
Monday, January 25, 2016
Why Should I Talk To My Kids About Porn?
Friday, January 22, 2016
Prevention Strategies Around the Holidays
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Your Best Defense Against Childhood Sexual Abuse
Friday, September 18, 2015
Could Josh Duggar Be Your Son? Four Things You Need to Know
Friday, May 22, 2015
Measuring Success for CSA Awareness
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Is Your Child's Summer Camp Safe? Three Questions You Should Ask
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
What If Question Four
Monday, April 27, 2015
Bear Drive Huge Success in 2014
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
What If Question Three
Monday, April 20, 2015
What If Question Two
Monday, April 13, 2015
Protecting Our Kids from Sexual Abuse
Thursday, April 09, 2015
What If Question One
Monday, April 06, 2015
How Moms Can Make A Difference
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
What If Conversation Starters
Wednesday, April 01, 2015
Children Don't Tell Because They Protect
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Children Don't Tell Because They Trust
Thursday, October 02, 2014
Children Don't Tell Because They Love
Monday, September 29, 2014
When a Story and a Calling Converge
Thursday, September 25, 2014