I knew this day would come, I knew someone would ask, and now I have to frantically come up with an awkward lie, that we both know is a lie when I say no.
“Does Leto want to come for a sleep over?” asks our school friend.
I panicked, “What do I say?”
I watch Shaun’s face for a reply, “Nup, they can’t, we can’t, we can’t”
“Tell her the truth” he says….
“hmmm, thats awkward”…I mumble quietly… holding my phone in my hand….
……I write a text saying “He can’t tonight because we’re busy” but I don’t send it, thats not being true to myself.
I rewrite it 10 times and delete it 10 times.
I mean I know her, I’ve met the husband once or twice, I trust them, I know them. They are good people, right?
I write another text “maybe another time” and hope they don’t ask again just to save both of us from the following awkward conversation; “I’m sorry, I’m really messed up so my kids can’t sleep over because you or someone you know might sexually abuse them?..
But I didn’t send that either.
I write another….“No, he can’t because I don’t trust anyone”….EVER.
DELETE. DELETE. DELETE!
But its not really my fault… you really can’t blame me, someone I trusted hurt me, in ways that many people will never fathom.
My mother trusting in someone didn’t protect me from being abused, so what authority does my own trust in someone else have over the safety of my own children?
I am worried about it happening because I lived it and still live it every day, and I know first hand what it does to someone, I know how real, and how frequently this abuse happens.
I know that sexual abuse often ‘runs’ in families, that the trauma passes through generations, I am responsible for passing that down onto my own children already and I am responsible for my children’s safety and they won’t have the hurt abuse can bring on their hearts under my care. In the case of childhood sexual abuse, prevention is key because there is no cure for the symptoms of childhood trauma. End of story.
But just because we trust someone with our children that does not mean our children are protected, that they are safe. Too often we hear in families when a child is sexually abused by someone else (especially those within the family or friendship circle,) people are often surprised, but the fact is that 80% of cases where a child is abused it is by someone the child knows. I was warned about stranger danger often as a child and my mother had no idea that for 6 long years, the very man within her home, one that she trusted was sexually abusing her little daughter on a regular basis. I was never talked to about body safety, or the possibility of abuse happening in the home, even though I was raised by a mother who experienced sexual abuse at the hands of her own family, and also domestic abuse.
Almost every person I know in my real life that has had any experience with sexual abuse as a child was carried out by a male family member they all loved.
These are the fathers, step-fathers, brothers, uncles and grandfathers, husbands and lovers, friends.
This isn’t to say that women don’t abuse, they do, and reportedly on a much smaller scale.
93% of offenders are male (Australian Bureau of Statistics-Recorded Crime, Offenders 2013-14.)
I have a select few family members and friends that I allow my three children to spend time with, its a select few because in keeping the amount of people they spend extended time with is vital to their safety and my own sanity. I can’t help but feel that every time we get more friends or acquaintances the risk of them being around someone unsafe is increased.
My reasons for this are personal. Openly, and utterly personal to me.
I have issues with trust, I have issues with trusting trust, and I never 100% trust anyone.
Not even you…..
I suspect everyone, yet somehow love, appreciate and adore everyone…
I don’t want to take the risk, because in my heart and in my mind because I couldn’t live with myself if anything was to happen.
I don’t take the risk because if I send them for a sleep over and something is to happen then and even if they do happen to tell me, that is one step too late, that is one rape too many. We rely on our children to speak up, we empower them to speak up and we assume that they’ll speak up before it’s too late, but even then, we are having faith in them to speak up after they might have experienced something so hurtful and shameful that historically they rarely do speak up. We as adults struggle enough to speak up, we can not rely on a child to do what we often can’t.
Holly Wainwright navigates a tricky parenting question - what do you do when your daughter wants to go to a sleepover but you don’t know the parents?
I won’t take the risk.
So if you do ask me for my kids to sleep over, and I say no, it is personal, its just a different kind of personal. It is not that I don’t trust you, its all of this, and if we are all the result of our own experiences then we should learn from that and be vigilant and careful, respectful of parenting opinions and choices always, and this is me learning from my experience.
I told my friend the truth, and do you know what she said?
“No need to explain, please don’t be sorry, we have 7 years more of school together, another time”…
And we are still friends…. and the world didn’t close in around me.
There is no cure for childhood sexual abuse, there is no cure for rape, all sexual abuse on children is rape and we can only try to prevent it.
One incident is one rape too many.