Talking with your child about abuse
Stop-Drop-Roll fire safety messages, or Look-Left, Look-Right road safety messages, are so important to teach children about how to be safe when they are young. Not only are they important to teach, but they are also easy to teach. Talking about abuse with your child, especially sexualised abuse, is much harder, but it is a conversation that needs to be had.
Many people do not realise how common sexual abuse against children really is. It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and between 1 in 7 and 1 in 12 boys are victims of sexual abuse (James, 2000). Therefore, child sexual abuse is everybody's issue and statistically, the likelihood of you knowing a child that is being abused, or being a survivor of sexual abuse yourself is very high.
The person being abused usually knows and trusts the perpetrator. The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (2005) it was found that perpetrators of child sexualised abuse are usually male relatives, or acquaintances or another known person to the child.
Because the offender is often a person well known and trusted to the child and their family, they usually can easily arrange to be alone with the child - therefore the abuse is commonly repeated. This abuse rarely involves violence because instead of force, these offenders use promises, threats and bribes to take advantage of their trusted relationship with the child’s family and the subsequent powerlessness of the child. In some cases, this can go on for years (NSW Child Protection Council, 2000).
It is vital to teach children about:
naming their private parts and when it is acceptable (e.g. doctors visits) and unacceptable (someone in the bed) to touch private parts
that they are the boss of their body and have control over who touches them
what they should expect in a healthy relationship (healthy boundaries and respect for personal space, honesty etc.)
how they can get help if they need to tell someone (a lot of the time it is actually a parent that is being abusive, therefore, the child may not wish to confide in their parents, let them know that they can also think about their Safety Plan and talk to people that are in their safety networks)
If you would like to hear the first-hand accounts of a young sexual abuse survivor, and see how her perpetrator kept abusing her for years and years without anyone noticing, please click on the link below.