As a survivor of childhood sexual assault, I always felt that children must be free to ask about adult behaviors that are confusing, even when it is behavior not related to sexual abuse. I realized how important it was for me to teach my children about sexual abuse and how to recognize it.
I remember the first time my daughter, Eleni asked me the question, “What is rape?” At the time, she was five years old, and it was a day that I had brought her to work, so she was exposed to posters and conversations. I simply told her, “It is when someone takes something away from you.” Hearing my own voice, I stopped what I was doing, knowing there was no other way around it. I had to tell her what it really meant — being touched without permission. I wondered how could I bring the discussion of sexual abuse into my family life and make it part of our conversations without feeling embarrassed or ashamed.
My daughter is now 10 years old, which means that for half of her life she has been exposed to news and conversations on the topic of child sexual abuse. This knowledge has made her well aware of her surroundings. When approached or put in an uncomfortable situation, she speaks up and does not hesitate to state her feelings. About a month ago, there was a particular incident that happened at her school, and she wanted to share it on CALCASA’s blog. Below is her story:
At school during lunch time in the cafeteria, my friends and I were eating lunch. Our backs were facing the boys sitting behind us at the other table. There were three boys who always picked on my girlfriends and I almost every day. On this day, only two of the boys were involved. (We will call them Paul and Peter.) They sometimes say things like, “Hey, Timmy likes you and you like him.” But on this day, Paul and Peter said, “Hey, Timmy wants to rape you.” Then Paul says directly to me, “Timmy had you three times.” In my head, I thought, “WHAT?!” I told them, “That’s sexual harassment!” They laughed at me. One of my girlfriends told me to ignore them. I told no and that I am going to tell the teacher. I can tell they were embarrassed and scared. They got a warning from the teacher. Paul came and apologized to me.
After Eleni shared her story with my husband & I, she also shared her story with CALCASA staff and sat down with some key staff and learned about Green Dot! She was so proud of herself that she wanted to share her story on CALCASA’s website. I am glad she knows what is right and that she speak up in whatever community she is in. I encourage you to find ways to talk to your children about this issue and help him/her understand how to respond if it ever occurs. No one should tolerate being harassed. My husband Lefteris, Bobby (her big brother) & I are very proud of Eleni.