Talking to your child about sexual abuse

When Marcie was seven years old, she was sexually abused by one of her close relatives. When her own daughter approached that age, Marcie was determined to protect her. That’s when she began having cleverly-disguised sex talk.

“I know that my childhood sexual abuse was extremely damaging,” Marcie said. “I deal with it every day. And if having a conversation with my daughter can protect her from it, I’m going to do that no matter how awkward it is.”

In September 2005, one of the men who had abused Marcie, her Uncle George, passed away from a brain tumor. He was in prison at the time for raping the very young daughter of his girlfriend. When Marcie got the news, she put her 7-year-old daughter to bed immediately, stood outside her bedroom door, and then broke down.

“I was about her age when George molested me, so it just really hit home how innocent I was then,” she said. “I don’t want to scare her, but I have a certain amount of fear because of what happened to me.”

Marcie knows the signals she used as a kid, so when her daughter suddenly stopped wanting to stay the night at her father’s house, Marcie immediately opened up the dialogue.
“She stay with her dad every Saturday and every other Monday night, so I got immediately frightened, not of her father but maybe one of his friends or something like that,” Marcie said. “I started asking her questions, and thankfully, there was nothing. She was just bored there.”

Still, Marcie remains vigilant. Because her own innocence was lost, Marcie wants her daughter to keep hers as long as possible — but she also wants to protect her. She’s learned how to phrase important, probing questions in such a way that her daughter will have no idea what she is talking about unless something is happening. Here are ways you can use Marcie’s experience to keep your child safe.

Stay connected and educate yourself on what you can do about abuse. You may want to start with these resources.

A Source of Hope
Dr. Jim Hopper of Harvard Medical School offers insight and information for adults who were abused as children and are looking to heal.

Interactive Hope
A mother and daughter doctor team bring you The Grief Blog, a comprehensive site focused on healing and dealing.

Who can help?
This comprehensive guide of organizations committed to protecting children gives parents a place to turn.

Outing Offenders
Thanks to Megan’s Law, it’s easier than ever to be on the lookout for registered offenders. Search by address to find out if your child could be in harm’s way (but don’t forget that some offenders may be people you trust).

How Marcie Got Her Groove Back

81-2_marciec_166x115Marcie was sexually abused and treated as if she was good for nothing but sex at the age of 7–she didn’t even know what sex was. The three men responsible: her uncle, cousin by marriage, and her father’s best friend. It was clearly an abuse of power and it happened until she was 9 years old.

“I was in therapy for a short amount of time for the abuse, so I knew that children who are sexually abused go one of two ways: they have this intense fantasy life as far as sex goes and they’re afraid to bring it out into the world because then they’ll be a dirty little whore, or they act out on those fantasies and are very promiscuous.”

Naturally scared of becoming a “whore,” Marcie didn’t lose her virginity until she was almost 20 and then married the man she lost it to. But her marriage was miserable. She had to get out.

“I was a frigid wife, so our sexual relationship was not the best. I decided to leave him because I hadn’t experienced anything in my life, and I watched all my friends living it up while I was living in the suburbs with a young daughter and a husband that I was not attracted to.”

It was a huge turning point in her life, Marcie needed to do things her way. Perhaps they are slightly unconventional, but in order to get her sexual groove back, it was perfect.

From being afraid of who she was, playing the ‘mysterious’ card to keep from telling anyone about herself, to an honest, happy, and powerful women, it is clear that Marcie’s truly took back the power that was taken from her so long ago!

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for crisis intervention, safety information and referrals 24 hours a day—no matter where you are.

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

A Community Against Violence
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is fighting to raise societal awareness about violence against women and children.

Trauma Tips
There is no easy way to get through traumatic events, but there are some things to keep in mind while time heals the wounds. Understand symptoms, how to care for yourself, and how to recover, thanks to the University of Iowa.

The Awakening
Women across the globe can unite in hope, faith, and solidarity with this journal of spirituality.

C’mon, Get Happy!
Visit Aymee’s happiness hub for tips on finding – and maintaining – a happy outlook.