Tell Somebody!

As my daughter is getting older and I’m starting to think about her body developing and the process of puberty in girls, a true fear is gripping me. Yes, having the talk about her cycle and the ‘birds and the bees’ is scary but what’s even more frightening is explaining to her good and bad touch.

Yes we reiterate that no one is to touch their private parts and that they shouldn’t touch anyone else. We tell them the importance of privacy and do our best to shield them from content on television and online that is not age appropriate. However we are not with our children 24/7 and it only takes a few moments to ruin a child for life. What I’m talking about here is molestation.

I came across a post on Facebook in support of a cause started by child abuse survivor, Aleesha Barlow called Tell Somebody Movement. Aleesha shared that she was abused sexually by her  maternal grandfather. This to me is DEVASTATING, what’s even more jarring is the fact that she told her mother and she didn’t believe her!  On the Facebook page individuals sharing their story of abuse. Their Mother’s Boyfriend, Uncle, Cousin, Grandfather, Teacher, Foster parent etc. Men & women who deliberately took advantage of young girls & boys and ruined their lives.

I remember growing up my mother didn’t allow me to sit on anyone’s lap. Not my father, not my Uncles NO ONE!  My daughter is VERY close to her Daddy, the sun and moon sets with him… now that she is starting to fill out do I stop her from sitting on her dad? How do I truly safeguard my child? It’s nerve wrecking!

To be honest I have my own story.  While attending a family function my uncles, girlfriend’s son assaulted me. He chased me around a beam in the basement of our family house and grabbed my breasts. I told him to stop and ran away, thankfully he didn’t run after me. Anytime I knew he would be around I made sure I stayed close by my mother. His mom passed away recently and although I wanted to support the family I was reluctant to go because even after all these years I didn’t want to see him. I’ve NEVER told anyone about this!

I tell my children that they can tell me ANYTHING good, bad or indifferent. I can identify with the fact that it is hard to be the ‘whistle blower’ so here is a tip sheet from Stop It Now,  with warning signs of possible sexual abuse.

Tip Sheet: Warning Signs of Possible Sexual Abuse In A Child’s Behaviors

 Any one sign doesn’t mean that a child was sexually abused, but the presence of several suggests that you begin asking questions and consider seeking help. Keep in mind that some of these signs can emerge at other times of stress such as:

  • During a divorce
  • Death of a family member or pet
  • Problems at school or with friends
  • Other anxiety-inducing or traumatic events

Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent

  • Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
  • Seems distracted or distant at odd times
  • Has a sudden change in eating habits
    • Refuses to eat
    • Loses or drastically increases appetite
    •  Has trouble swallowing.
  • Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
  • Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
  • Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
  • Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
  • Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
  • Talks about a new older friend
  • Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
  • Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
  • Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge

Signs more typical of younger children

  • An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
  • Has new words for private body parts
  • Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
  • Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
  • Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
  • Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

Signs more typical in adolescents

  • Self-injury (cutting, burning)
  • Inadequate personal hygiene
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Running away from home
  • Depression, anxiety
  • Suicide attempts
  • Fear of intimacy or closeness
  • Compulsive eating or dieting

Physical warning signs

Physical signs of sexual abuse are rare.  If you see these signs, bring your child to a doctor.   Your doctor can help you understand what may be happening and test for sexually transmitted diseases.

  • Pain, discoloration, bleeding or discharges in genitals, anus or mouth
  • Persistent or recurring pain during urination and bowel movements
  • Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training

What You Can Do If You See Warning Signs

  • Create a Safety Plan. Don’t wait for “proof” of child sexual abuse.
  • Look for patterns of behavior that make children less safe. Keep track of behaviors that concern you. This Sample Journal Page can be a helpful tool.
  • See our Let’s Talk Guidebook for tips on speaking up whenever you have a concern.
  • If you have questions or would like resources or guidance for responding to a specific situation, visit our Online Help Center.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, in the long run this will help more then it will hurt. For those unsure #TellSomebody that you’ve been abused . Please share this with your children and make them comfortable with sharing with you! If you are a survivor or abuse please share how you told your story. If you haven’t told your story yet feel free to share it with me in the comments.

Please support the Tell Somebody Movement by making a donation or purchasing the T shirt.

Until next time…



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