Child sexual abuse is a sad reality. It happens in many cases in the closest family and emotional environment. In my work as a psychologist I meet many people who have suffered sexual abuse in their childhood and adolescence. And what has marked them in their current relationships. We are going to talk here about the most important thing that is PREVENTION to avoid sexual abuse. And then there is no need to heal the wounded adults.
1. SEXUAL ABUSE EXISTS
Sexual abuse exists as well as other problems that can affect our children throughout life. Recognize this sad reality, WITHOUT DRAMATISMS, is the first step to protect them effectively. To think that it does not happen or that it only happens in other families is to CLOSE YOUR EYES and does not help to avoid it.
WHAT IS SEXUAL ABUSE? It can be defined as any unwanted sexual behavior that is imposed on a person. It can be caresses, touching or bodily friction. The word ABUSE implies A POWER RELATIONSHIPfor example an adult on a child but it can also happen between two older people.
I have attended some cases of women sexually abused in their work environment by colleagues with a higher status. It can happen even within a COUPLE RELATIONSHIP, especially in the first adolescent relationships where there is a myth that if you love someone you have to put up with their caresses or even make love even if you don’t feel like it.
SEXUAL ABUSE also includes malicious deception and seduction by the abuser. That sounds like to all of us “Don’t accept candy from strangers.”
2. NOT A FORCED KISS
We can vaccinate our children against sexual abuse. positive sex education at home is the best remedy to prevent sexual abuse of minors. Includes the acceptance of one’s own body without taboos and also learn to set limits on unwanted physical contact.
We must break the idea that in FAMILY you have to be affectionate with everyone. And put up with, for example, that kissing great-aunt who makes us feel bad. BEHAVIORING WELL does not mean being submissive and enduring physical displays of affection that make us uncomfortable. That is placing our children in a vulnerable position to sexual abuse and, in the future, to toxic relationships of dependency and submission.
Not even a forced kiss can be a good motto. Being a good boy or a good girl does not include putting up with everyone touching you and making love to you because you are a cutie. Rather, we should educate our children to learn to reject any type of physical contact if they feel bad, uncomfortable or violent. Even if they come from the parents themselves.
I remember telling my son about this when he was little and explaining to him that there may be times when he doesn’t feel like a kiss from me or his mother and that all he has to do is say so. Because a person who loves you will understand and will not force you to do anything that makes you feel bad.
In this way we are vaccinating them against this problem and they will feel safe when they have to reject an unwanted approach. By anyone in your environment.
Being a good boy or a good girl does not include putting up with everyone touching you and making love to you because you are a cutie.
And let them know that we will support and protect them in this regard. And that we will excuse them or explain it in front of others. Each family must set their own standards of behavior and stand up for themselves when challenged by others.
In short, what should you say if they want to give you a kiss or a caress that you do not want? NO THANKS.
3. WE WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE YOU
In many cases of sexual abuse, the victims remain silent out of shame or because they think that they will not be believed and that, furthermore, they will be told off or treated as liars. It’s very important establish a relationship of TRUST with the children. Tell them that we will always believe them and that we love them no matter what. Encourage them to talk about what happens to them outside and inside the house. If they are worried about something, let them know that we are there, attentive and available.
I have attended cases of people abused in their childhood who have remained silent for this reason. Or worse still, that they have told it and their own parents did not believe them. Therefore, trust in adults is broken and they are condemned to loneliness and continue to be exposed to this violence.
If an abuser in a family environment is not identified early, it is certain that he or she will continue to abuse and harm other family members.
It is important to be vigilant against anomalies that we can observe in our children. For example, redness in the genitals that may not have any strange origin but that is very easy to observe when we bathe and take care of them. Something like this was told to me by a woman with her 5-year-old son. She, without drama, reported it to the school and they detected that it had to do with a slight hygiene problem when going to the bathroom. And problem solved.
4. MY BODY IS MINE, RESPECT ME
It is necessary to educate, as we said, in respect for one’s own body and that of others. A good SELF-ESTEEM is also important in the body. And that is very easy to build in the daily family treatment. Just tell her that she has gorgeous eyes, pretty hands, and an overall wonderful body. Physical contact from tenderness is great and necessary to confirm all this and make him feel loved and safe. The human being needs skin, we are mammals and we need to be loved physically to feel good.
That we have a physical loving relationship at home, from TENDERNESS, as a way of communicating, will enable our children to assimilate it and show themselves safe when they grow up with their body and with AUTHENTIC love demonstrations.
This will also help you RECOGNIZE when something is wrongn, when there is a forced or strange approach by another person. Or something that can make them uncomfortable and then they are able to REJECT it.
Educating in taboo, shame and fear will only make them maintain a relationship of confusion and ambiguity with their own body, with their emotional needs and that they may be easier prey for people who try to manipulate and take advantage of them.
Before we said that they had to be taught to say “NO THANKS” and to reject any physical contact that made them uncomfortable. In addition to feeling supported, whatever the situation and the person involved, they will now dare to be themselves and protect themselves from threats.
5. DO NOT LISTEN TO UNKNOWN
I am going to tell you about a personal event that happened to me when I was 9 years old when I returned home from school. I remember an older man approached me and asked if I could help him get the motorcycle out of his garage because it was too heavy and he couldn’t do it alone. I think an alert went off in my brain and I told him I was coming home late and they were waiting for me to eat. I also remember how angry my father was that night when I told him about it and his reaction: “If it happens to you again, tell him to wait a minute and you’re going to call your father and he’s going to help him and he’ll be glad to.” And no more was said about the matter.
I think I avoided a dangerous situation. That, furthermore, I was able to tell about it and I was very happy to feel supported at home by those who loved me and reinforced in my “unsupportive” attitude of not offering help to those who needed it.
It’s good to talk to your children, especially when they start to go out alone or go with other people without our control. Just as we tell them that if they have combed their hair, it is good to tell them not to talk to strangers and that they should not listen if they ask for help or accompany them to another place. In my case it remained a strange anecdote but, in other cases, it could have been a reason for abuse or rape.
It is also very important to remain calm if sexual abuse has occurred and our son or daughter tells us about it. Do not dramatize in front of them. Our duty is to protect them and not do them more harm. I remember that I was once consulted about the case of a 7-year-old girl who, going up alone in the elevator to her house with a neighbor of hers, he touched her breast area and came home crying. at certain ages there is no concept of sexuality as we adults understand it and this girl was crying because I had hurt her.
Do not dramatize in front of her, calm her down and tell her that this person will be punished and that she will never do it again. And if the abuser is known, he is reported and the end is reached.
6. ASK FOR SPECIALIZED HELP
It is important to open your eyes and recognize that there may be dangers out there. But don’t be scared and live in fear. As we have seen it is possible educate in affective relationships based on respect and prevent the different ways in which sexual abuse can be masked. Sex education and dialogue at home immunize against this problem. Confidence with children will help them avoid traps and help them tell us what is happening in their lives and turn to us if necessary.
Psychology can help us if necessary to manage a case of child abuse in the best way. It is essential not to delve into the damage with drama that will only make things worse and scare the people who have been abused. It is a serious issue that we must prevent and also face if it happens in our environment. DO NOT REMOVE IMPORTANCE and look the other way when it happens within the family. We must act and isolate the aggressor, correct him and, where appropriate, report him.
For many victims of sexual abuse who have shut themselves up in silence, it can take years before they dare to say it and tell it. It is important to help them with psychological support so that in their lives it does not mean double damage by preventing them from living fully in the present. Many cases of sexual dysfunction are rooted in sexual abuse suffered in the past that prevents them from living in a positive way and heals their body, their sexuality and their pleasure. He has been tainted by confusion, shame, and guilt.
The only fault lies with the person who commits the aggression. And the attacked person must be cared for, understood, supported and healed so that they live fully in the present and forever.
I hope that all this information helps to open your eyes, prevent this scourge of sexual abuse and help respectful relationships, which are the only authentic and healthy ones. Thank you.
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Sexual abuse, 6 tips to protect your children
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