Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mothering Monday: Protect Your Children

Warning: This is a little ranty and possibly rambling.

I watched the movie, The Abolitionists, tonight. A group called Operation Underground Rescue poses as sex tourists and gather evidence to arrest and incarcerate traffickers of children and then frees the children who have been trafficked. It was a hard but inspiring film to watch.

I am grateful that light is being shed on the plight of so many kids around the world, 2 million of them, in fact. The movie also turned my mind to an issue that is almost too close to comfort. We don't really talk about childhood sexual abuse much--though the occasional article floats around. Most people don't understand that most children who are sexually abused, are abused by a relative or a close family friend. Some numbers float around (that may or may not be true) that 1 in 3 girls or women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. The number is supposedly 1 in 9 for men. Both girls AND boys can be sexually abused.

It is a sad, ugly, and hard to bear thinking about it. But it exists. In fact, almost every family--especially when you consider extended families, has a story, whether or not they acknowledge it. I have my own story in my extended family. I never experienced sexual abuse, but people close to me have. Its a pretty awful thing to experience as a child, and pretty horrible to process as an adult. In fact, it takes an average of 15 years for a woman to process and recover from sexual abuse as an adult, once she has openly acknowledged what has happened to her. I imagine that it almost more difficult for men to recover from childhood sexual abuse as our culture makes it much harder for them to talk about about being abused.

When I found out what had happened in my family, it fractured my entire world. It was a devastating experience that has taken me years to process. I wouldn't go back to a place of ignorance because knowledge has allowed me to protect my own children. But it certainly shattered family relationships and has seriously complicated my ability to trust in people.

Perhaps the hardest thing to deal with when addressing abuse is how often the women in the family will shield an abuser. A wife will shield her husband, siblings protect a brother, a mother will shield and protect her child the abuser. This veil of protection that abusers often enjoy means that more children are victimized and suffer as adults and pedophiles go free.

I'm going to be the first to admit that dealing with an abuser in the family is enormously complicated and there are no simple or easy solutions. But I can emphatically tell you what doesn't work. It never, ever works when a predator is protected from the law and the family tries to hush it up. Instead, lies web and entangle the entire family and it literally poisons them. Siblings can't trust one another. Parents betray each other and their children. And every single person in the family suffers. I know this because I have experienced it.

It requires enormous courage on the part of a woman to acknowledge the existence of abuse by her husband, son, or daughter and to then address it.

Every father and mother must be prepared to protect and defend their children from abuse and predators at all costs. To do anything less is the most profound betrayal of one's children and one's calling as a parent.

It has taken me years to forgive a person I felt betrayed me by protecting a pedophile. Don't protect bad people who do bad stuff to kids. Don't. I don't care how much you think it is going to cost if you do the right thing. I can promise you that protecting an abuser is going to bring more tragedy and pain in your life than you ever possibly imagined.

End Rant.


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