I remember when I was about eleven years old when I saw my mother’s estranged stepfather for the first time. He was very nice and friendly and gave my sister and myself very affectionate hugs. Then my mother’s stepfather went to hug my mother. When he hugged my mother, my mother stood still with her arms folded with a fake smile and a deer in the headlights look on her face. She stood frozen like a manikin, unable to move. I didn’t understand then why she behaved that way and I thought it was odd that my mother didn’t hug her stepfather.
The next couple of weeks after my mother saw her stepfather again, she started having night terrors. As told by my father, in my mother’s sleep she would kick, swing her arms as if she was fighting someone, and jumping out of bed trying to run away. Night terrors or “Sleep terrors” happens usually when some traumatic event happen in the waken life and they relive it in their sleep. When my mother would awaken, she couldn’t remember her violent episode.
One day, my father called my sister and me downstairs because they wanted to talk to us. I remember my father said that my mother has something to tell us. “Go ahead. Tell them what you’ve told me,” I remember my father said to my mother. It was apparent that my mother was crying and she blurred out, “I was molested.”
“By whom,” my father asked.
“By my stepfather,” my mother said as she started crying and whimpering.
I started to tear up and I put my head down and felt hurt because my mother was hurting. Although I was hurting, I didn’t quite understand what molestation was. “Was my mother raped as a child,” I thought to myself. My father asked my mother what her stepfather done to her. My mother explained that she was touched, fondled, and rubbed against and touched his penis but it never went inside her. That day when she told us, my mother at the age of thirty three years old at the time, told her mother what happen to her years ago. When my mother told her mother, her mother kicked her estranged husband out of her house. Whether my grandmother let him back her house or not I don’t know but I know that my mother or my sister and I did not visit our grandmother’s house after that revelation for a very long time.
My mother was molested at the age of three or four years old and it didn’t stop until at the age of twelve when she stood up for herself and told her abuser NO when he tried to touch her breast. In my mother’s situation, her step father was physically abusive to her mother. My mother’s stepfather and her mother were alcoholics. My mother felt that she couldn’t go to her mother and tell her what was going on. Maybe my mother felt that her mother wouldn’t believe her. Maybe she felt her stepfather would hurt her mother if she told. What ever the reason was, it must have been hurtful to feel that you can’t tell anyone that someone is hurting you.
Society tends to see child predators as some stranger that targets children where the fact is the majority of child predators are people that are very close in the child’s lives.
According to the child advocacy group Darkness to Light:
·Experts estimate that 1 in 10 children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday. This means that in any classroom or neighborhood full of children, there are children who are silently bearing the burden of sexual abuse.
·Youth are 2.5 times more likely to be raped than adults.
·About 35% of victims are 11 years old or younger.
·30% of children are abused by family members.
We tend to give family members the benefit of the doubt and say to ourselves that,
“What they did was a mistake. Or He or she was young and didn’t mean it. Or the child must have led them on.”
And the child now an adult should just “Get over it.” I bet if it was a stranger that molested their child and not family, they would want to kill them. Why see this particular predator as the victim? Why not out the person for being the filthy, disgusting, human being that they are? What are the parents afraid of? Is it that the parents don’t want to feel guilty by being blind to the fact that they allowed their child to be molested by a family member and they did not see it? The affects of child sexual abuse stays with a person for the rest of their lives and the fact that their family members tell the person who was abused to “Get over it” is to help take the responsibility to protect their child away from them and to keep the burden on the true victim which is the abused child.
|Oogie Boogie Man aka Child Predator|
This reaction to the allegation of being sexually abused as a child is The Boogie Man in a lot of families because most of the time, the child doesn’t have the family support to back them up if one of the family members are doing something inappropriate to them. The Boogie Man isn’t real and the parents tend to think that the child is making it up. The parent’s reactions are,
“You’re imagining that Uncle Bobby kissed your lips. You’re sure it wasn’t your cheek?”
“You’re sure Grandpa didn’t try to zip you up to help you in the bathroom and accidentally touched your penis?”
“Jimmy wasn’t touching you vagina, he was just trying to wipe the ice cream off your pants while you were sitting on his lap right?”
This so call “second guessing” the child doesn’t make him/her think you have their back when it comes to their comfort so they will keep quiet to avoid an argument and handle it the best way they know how even if it means enduring the abuse of their boogie man for years.
Parents need to let their children know that they can come to them no matter what without judgment. If your child accuses someone of sexual abuse, don’t dismiss it, check it out. There are three reasons why a child wouldn’t come forward if they are abuse: 1.) they think you wouldn’t believe them or 2.) they feel guilty and ashamed about what happen and 3.) telling you will hurt you and they don’t want to see you hurt. Parents have to be clear and let their children know that no one comes above their child’s welfare and safety and you wouldn’t allow anyone to hurt them no matter who they are.
We as parents also need to take notice of our children body language around family members. Are they comfortable? Do they try to move away? If the child doesn’t want to be alone with the person, or sit on their laps, or even want to hug them; ask yourself why. Don’t think that just because they are your father, mother, sister, brother, cousin that your children should show affection to them the way you would. Just because your family member didn’t sexual abuse you, it doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t sexually abuse your child.
Although my mother’s boogie man died about a year ago, the pain of the abuse still lingers on inside her and she still have nightmares of him to this very day. Mostly likely, my mother’s abuser didn’t just abuse her; he probably abused other, too. Just think about that. If your family member sexual abused your child, they are sexually abusing others and if you don’t out them as the boogie men they are, you’re contributing to the abuse of other children as well.
We need to stop hiding family child sexual abuse and bury it hoping the secret will die. Child sexual abuse should never be buried; it should be dug up and exposing the people who hurt our children as the sick monsters they are. If you out the predator in your family and your family hate you for it, so be it. I rather be on an island alone with my child where it is safe than be around family who condones child predator behavior and my child feels uncomfortable and have nightmares of their boogie man for the rest of their lives.
Help end child sexual abuse by outing out this predator in your family and treat them as if they were a stranger who did this to your child. You are your child’s best advocate; protect them at every cost even if it means you never see your family ever again.