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November 14, 2008

The Sexual Abuse Of A Liar

2_4 It will never happen to my child! That is one of those lines that I hate hearing from a mother- a line that is filled with ignorance, denial and just plain stupidity. Sexual abuse can happen to any child anywhere, anytime by anyone.

How do I know?  I am one of those children, not only was I abused but when I confronted my family as an adult about it - I was called a liar.

I have been called a liar, a failure and even told that I have a mental disorder-oh, yes, these are things said to me by my own mother. The person who was to have protected me, made me feel safe and loved me unconditionally. I have distanced myself from my entire family, not just due to this, but due to the entire dysfunction that existed. I wanted better for myself and my family and it is a decision I have never regretted. I am sharing this story to hopefully help others remember that monsters hide in the wide open as great people with great careers and families....

My story is a pretty common scenario, a mother who married a man who had 4 children of his own. I was 3 when they married and we moved into his home. My new step siblings, who resented me from day one, were 9, 11, 13 and 15 years old when I arrived. Although my mother will say how ungrateful I am for giving me such a great life, I beg to differ, it sucked living with 4 older kids who hated every ounce of you. Does wonders for your self esteem!

Although exact dates and times are fuzzy, I can recall that the youngest child, Chris, began forcing me to do things to him when he was about 11 or 12. I do remember him saying things like "It's OK, we are brother and sister and this is what they do for each other." I remember his smell, his taste and how in my gut even at such a young age I knew something wasn't right, but was afraid to tell. I never had a mother as far as I was concerned and I knew I could not tell his siblings as they hated my mere existence. So, I did what I needed to do, I cannot tell you how long it went on for as I believe I did block it out after the first few times it happened. Also, he never touched me at all-it was only me doing things to him.

The funniest part of this story is that I remember on one occasion a warm sensation in my mouth. It is one of those moments that will stick with me forever. I remember running into the bathroom thinking, yuck, he pee'd in my mouth. It wasn't until I met my husband and shared that story that I became aware that it wasn't pee. My point here, children do not know what is happening to them-it is our job to educate and protect them!

So, there it is, a story about abuse taking place in my own home with someone who was put in charge of taking care of me on a daily basis.

The irony to my tale is that Chris was tragically killed in a car accident 3 days before his 17th birthday. He was the favorite son, the handsome one, the smart one and the one that everyone just loved. He had the "it" factor that so many wish they had. I didn't shed a tear, not one, not then and not now. My 2 step-sisters called me every name in the book because I shared no emotion upon his death. I was an 11 year old who only saw the death of a monster, not this wonderful person everyone thought him to be.

I did not share my story until I was about 19 years old. I told my one step-sister and my mother. They both called me a liar and said that would have never happened and how dare I tell stories about someone who has been dead for almost 8 years. So, why would I lie about this after 8 years was my simple response.

I am now 38 with a 6 year old of my own. I am too protective of her - and always will be. I have begun having talks with her from the time she was 4 about "bad people". Just 2 weeks ago she asked me about what happened to me as a child that makes me so afraid to let her play at homes where there are big brothers or fathers present. So, I sat her down and told her. I know, many of you may not agree with having this type of conversation with a child of this age, but let me assure you my daughter is extremely advanced and well spoken and we have done a great job of letting her know the world is a beautiful place but filled with some ugly things.

I told her my story so when I do tell her she cannot go on a play date with only "Katie's" dad at home, she understands. I am letting her know that these type of people are not EVERYWHERE, but mommy needs to use caution to protect her. I tell her she does not need to be afraid, but she needs to listen to her heart and her instincts and they will lead her int he right direction.

But these monsters are everywhere and they come in all shapes and sizes. They are doctors, brothers, lawyers, policemen and to me the worst of all--fathers. They are parents of your child's friends and sometimes even teachers. They look like everyone else! So when someone shares a story like this with you, step back and think for a moment of where you let your child play, how often she is alone with someone that you "think" you know all too well.

For those of you who believe you are protecting your children by not talking to them about these topics, I have to say I think you are doing them a disservice. Children, by nature, want to make adults happy and do what they are told. If they are not told what "inappropriate" behavior is you are setting them up to trust everyone and listen to all adults-even those that want to do them harm.

If you are ready to talk to your child about this topic, I want to share a book that is in pre publication that is written for children. It is by a fellow Jersey girl I had the pleasure of meeting at a recent event. Jill Starishevsky is a sex crimes prosecutor in NYC and a poet. She has created this amazing book called My Body Belongs To Me. It is an important book to read to your children and written in a fun way that really connects with children.

This is an original post to the New Jersey Moms Blog. Jill also writes at Cool Photo Ideas.

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