A Clear Threat

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I wish that I could reach out and make everyone who reads this feel, really feel the fear and absolute powerlessness that a child like me felt. That I still feel.

An adult-someone you know, someone you trust-forces you to do something sexual. Maybe he waits until you and he are alone in the house. Maybe he sneaks into your bedroom at night when everyone else is sleeping. This was my terror as a child. Dealing with the boyfriends that Mom brought into the house; sexual predators in my own home.

 

More than thirty years later, I am still astonished and dismayed at the ease with which single mothers invite strangers into the lives of their children. Over and over again, we hear about kids being victimized. What we don't hear is the outrage that should be directed at their parents, usually the mother.

I have no desire to add more troubles to the burdens of women who are raising children alone; it's a hard job. But at the end of the day, we can't run from the simple fact that a child is more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone they know, someone close, often in their own home. It is often the uncle, father, step-father, brother or mom's boyfriend who poses the greatest threat to the child. While girls are more often the targets of sexual predators, boys are NOT excluded.

Children in this predicament are often ashamed and reluctant to speak up; so I will provide a voice for these children:

"Mom, I'm afraid of the man in this house. He touches me and I don't want him to. Can you make him stop? Will you make him stop? Please?"

We seem to spend more time buying a new vehicle or a new dress for that big party than checking the background and history of the men we sleep with and expose our children to.

I'm not suggesting that single moms shouldn't have a private life. What I am suggesting is a high level of vigilance, one that that I realize might be dismissed to as paranoia. But if we can't be paranoid about our children, what is worth being paranoid about?

We pay lip service to the concept that children are the future, saying that every child is precious, that we love our children and so on, but I ask again: When will we act to stop crimes against our children? When will our own needs not override the real needs of our most precious cargo?

I ask, what does the future hold for a child forever scarred and damaged by the trauma of childhood sexual abuse? Maybe we already know the answer, and are just too afraid to face that truth.

Some points to ponder:

  • Predators do indeed target single mothers. They provide a bridge to a child who is less supervised.
  • A would-be predator may be grooming your child for a sexual assault, with gifts, treats and attention. Be alert to an adult who pays undue attention to your child.
  • Internet predators also present a threat to your children. You may be accused of being "nosey," but your kids' Internet activity must be closely monitored.

Resources to contact:

  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE) www.rainn.org
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799- 7233 (SAFE) www.ndvh.org
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: 1- 800-843-5678 (the lost) www.missingkids.com

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