Have you ever known someone who despite the overwhelming odds against them, has overcome incredible trauma to lead a healthy, happy life? Every once in a while I meet someone like this and I am always in awe. So what's the best recipe for helping your child be resilient in the midst of whatever they face? Research says, it's you!
There are people all around us who are suffering silently because their children have either been sexually abused by another child, or are doing the abusing. This is a subject that requires very real empathy for everyone involved. No one wants to talk about this growing problem because there is so much shame and stigma and hopelessness attached to it. I hope this episode changes that.
So I know this podcast is full of some pretty heavy topics. Today’s is no exception, in fact, this one feels especially heavy to me, because it hits pretty close to home. If you choose to ride it out and listen to this episode, I want to make you a few assurances:
1 - The next couple of episodes will be much lighter to give us all a break.
2 - If you have a personal experience related to this topic, that you are not alone!
3 - We will close the episode with evidence that there is a bright future ahead of us.
Now before we go on, this might not be the episode the episode you want your kids to hear playing in the background. We’re not going to go into anything too graphic, or go into too many details or anything. But just the subject matter is kind of heavy, so there you go.
In episode 16 about grief and transitions I briefly mentioned my experience with having a miscarriage. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. I felt like it was my last chance to have another baby, and I blamed myself for losing it. I was being mentally, emotionally and physically stretched to my limits.
So at the height of it, after my husband and I had spent a hectic night in the ER for an emergency surgery, we hurried and snuck home to find our kids still sleeping, with no clue what had happened. We said goodbye to our dear friend who had come over to watch our kids, and I went to bed until the kids got home from school.
That evening my kids had a piano recital, so I got dressed, did my hair, put on a smile and headed to the recital hall. I remember getting out of the car and walking through the busy parking lot with a heavy weight inside me. I looked at my family all dressed up and smiling, then looked at all the other families coming to participate in the recital and thought, “These people have no idea what I’m going through. We look so put together and stable.” The line from a cherished hymn came to mind, “in the quiet heart is hidden, sorrow that the eye can’t see.”
Then, suddenly, it was like I stepped outside of myself and realized that any one of those people could be saying the same thing right now and I would have no idea! A wise man once said “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble, and you will be right more than half the time.”
So why do I share that story in an episode about children abusing children? There are people all around us who are suffering silently because their children have either been victimized by another child, or are doing the victimizing. This is a subject that requires very real empathy for everyone involved. No one wants to talk about it because there is so much shame and stigma and hopelessness attached to it. I hope this episode changes that.
Here with me today is Dawn Hawkins, Executive Director of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation in Washington D.C., and one of the most influential people in the movement against sexual exploitation. Her organization directs the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation and unites leaders in the movement through an annual summit they put on.
Just to give you an idea of how much she is moving and shaking, she had to ask me to reschedule our original recording time because a key google executive had asked for a meeting with her. Can you believe Google bumped me? It happens. Ha!
So in our conversation she mentions a symposium that is happening on March 20-21st in DC. If you’re listening to this episode on the day it is released, then it starts in two days! Find out more at endchildonchildabuse.com. If you don’t learn about until it’s over, then go to endchildonchildabuse.com to see some recordings from the event.
Also in this episode you’ll find out more about the unbelievable holes many states in the United States have on how we treat child on child abuse. You’ll also learn more about what you can do to prevent or address it close to home.
So here we go, my conversation with Dawn Hawkins.
Conversation with Dawn
So this is the world we live in. This is our reality. What are we going to do about it?
Start by strengthening your relationships with each member of your family. Then arm your kids with body protective knowledge, and put safeguards in place. You are the person your child needs to empower them in this challenging world, and you are qualified and capable.
If you want to get more information about what is normal sexual development, check out this great post from Protect Young Minds.
If you feel motivated to go beyond that, then go to endsexualexploitation.org and click on Get Involved. There are so many ways you can become an advocate against child on child harmful sexual behavior. You can also go to endchildonchildabuse.com to view videos from the symposium in DC this week.
The truth is, everybody in the world is broken. But I believe that with every effort you make to strengthen yourself, your family, and your community, you will find a little piece of healing.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with raising your kids. You can share with me on facebook, instagram, or here on my website.
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Thanks for listening and have an awesome day!