As a survivor of child sexual abuse (CSA), I know I was a soft target – someone who would not tell because I had no one to tell. Pedophiles instinctively know how to target, groom and pick up their victims.
Further, the common narrative in most CSA cases is the victim is a vulnerable child, who is already going through tough times. He/she is unable to fight back.
There are several risk factors which make a child more vulnerable to being sexually abused. And the only way to really protect your child is by making them inviolable.
Give Them Enough Touchy, Feely Love
Loving touch is vital for a child’s emotional and physical development. Numerous studies have shown that hugging, cuddling and other forms of physical displays of affection have positive outcomes for children. Hugs trigger the release of oxytocin which lowers the level of stress hormone. Hugging helps children regulate their own emotions and become more resilient. This leads to higher self-esteem, better parent-child communication, and fewer psychological and behavior problems.
When a child gets enough physical touch it will not crave for love from outsiders or people he/she does not know. In fact, children whose parents carry them enough hate being carried by even people they know. They will just protest. My son did not want to be carried by anyone except us, his parents and a handful of people he knew really well.
This inbuilt refusal to being touched is guaranteed protection against predators.
Conversely, receiving insufficient levels of parental touch can lead to disinhibited social engagement disorder. Kids crave kindness and touch and if they cannot get it at home they will gravitate towards anyone who touches them confusing sexual touching with love.
Let No Topic Be Taboo
All children are curious about their bodies, babies, sex and other myriad things. They want answers to their questions as they grow. If you avoid the discussion or tell them to shut up they will be clueless when faced with a situation which is confusing.
I remember being curious about sex and babies and where they came from. My parents would just brush aside my questions. Once when I thought of finding answers by poring over a magazine featuring a romantic story, my mother just snatched it away. Her reaction to my curiosity left me feeling I was a bad girl.
So much so, that when my cousin would touch me as a little child I did not know how to react. If I told my mother she would definitely deride me. So I pretended it was normal though I felt uncomfortable with this cousin. Later, when I grew up and his attack became more persistent I just did not know whom to tell. In my mind, I was the bad girl.
Respect Their Feelings, Don’t Force
Your child should never be forced to do something that he/she does not want to do. Browbeating them into submission not only messes up their self-confidence but also makes them fearful to fight back.
Forcing your child to be nice and hug someone is one of the worst things a parent can do.
When a child is being forced to hug (or be hugged by) people at a young age, we’re instilling the message that a person’s body is not their own body.
Forcing a child to ignore feelings that make him uncomfortable affects his/her ability to respond to dangerous situations. He/she becomes a fair target for bullies, rapists, pedophiles and any of the evil people waiting to take advantage.
However, if a child from an early age knows he has a choice where his body is concerned he has no problem defending his boundaries. He does not have to just accept, please or worry about offending anyone.
Learning to listen to one’s body and protect it is one of the most important survival skills for anyone.
Stop Being Emotionally & Physically Abusive
Parental abuse is devastating to a child’s inherent sense of self. Parents are a child’s mirror. When a parent uses violence it instills fear in the child. A child feels helpless and it shows in their body language. This is what predators look out for, the fearful, unconfident child who is a loner.
Emotional abuse may not show physically but the effects become encoded in a child’s makeup. They feel not good enough. And most abusers know how to work on the mind and groom a child who suffers from self-esteem issues.
Don’t Shame, Blame Or Instill Guilt
Even if something happened, don’t shame them or blame them this will only instill guilt which could have life-long repercussions. If you catch your child exploring his/her body, his/her sibling’s body or playing doctor-patient, be calm. Don’t pounce on them, ridicule them or scream that they are bad. Explain to your kids why something is inappropriate, remove them from the situation without making a big fuss which can be more traumatizing.
Shame is a toxic emotion, it erodes a child’s self-confidence. The recent phenomenon Dr. Jordan Peterson says that a sexual predator will pick a child who lacks confidence because they know they can get away with it. Usually, bullies in schools will pick up kids who will not fight back.
When we feel ashamed, we feel that we are the reason for the problem. Our shame stops us from dealing with challenges or monsters in the world since we have internalized the message ‘bad’, not good’ into our personalities. Psychologist Albert Bandura coined the term self-efficacy which defines the feeling of confidence an individual has about their capacity to influence events and achieve goals.
Support And Buffer Your Child
As parents, we can help prevent our child being victims to the molesters and abusers who stalk the world. We have to keep the communication lines open. Rules apply to everyone, no one is exempt and as parents, you have to be willing to speak up and stop being nice. Your child needs to know that you have their back 100%.
A pedophilic predator targets the timid, lonely child who won’t fight back. More importantly, they target the ones who have no one to go to for help because their parents are busy with their own shit.
Parents, it is up to you to prevent your child from being abused because in most cases the abuser in right there in your homes. You need to keep your eyes and ears open. Support and love your child.
Child Sexual Abuse: 6 Stages of Grooming
Child sexual abuse is rampant, and it’s crucial to understand why some kids are more vulnerable