For Christmas this year, my girls are asking for all the stuff kids ask for – the latest and greatest gadgets, toys, and games. They have the good fortune to grow up in a loving home where their every need is met and they can focus on the enjoyment that these gifts will bring them.
Not all kids are so lucky.
When I was just five years old, my abuser began touching and fondling me. He raped me for the first time when I was six. For the next several years, he raped me repeatedly – sometimes daily. When Christmas came around every year, of course I thought about the toys and games other kids were going to get and wished that I could have those things too. But what I wanted more than anything was to not have to face another day where I would be forced to take my clothes off and be used, raped, and told that it was because I was such a bad kid. Santa Claus was just a far-fetched fairy tale to me, and even if he were real, I was told I would always be on the naughty list anyway.
What happened to me as a kid is happening to thousands of kids right now. That’s a fact that we cannot ignore. If someone doesn’t step in to stop the abuse and get them help, they are at risk of doing what I did – turning to drugs to escape the pain and beating people up as a way of expressing my rage. I don’t want another kid to ever experience what I did. Isn’t that your wish, too? The good thing is that we can make it happen! Child sexual abuse can be stopped and we have the power to stop it.
So, while the kids in your life are making their list for Santa, I challenge you to make your own list. You know those stupid New Year’s resolutions you’re always making that never work? Try these instead:
I will talk with confidence and courage to my child about sexual abuse, so that they will have the confidence and courage to talk about it with me.
I will be an adult that my child or any child can come to if someone is abusing them.
I will question and carefully observe any adult who has (or wants) access to my child.
If I suspect that a child I know is being abused, I will step in and do something about it.
I will support a reputable organization in my community that helps kids who’ve been abused and are working to prevent abuse; I’ll do this by volunteering, spreading the word, or donating.
If you’re willing to make these resolutions, I’m more than willing to help you keep them. Have me come speak at your school or at an organization where you live. Talk to me for straightforward ideas on how to talk to your kids and keep them safe. Support me in my effort to raise funds to help kids who’ve been raped and abused. I’ve got the tools to make it happen, but you have to make the first move. Are you in?
Let’s give all the kids out there what they really want: to be safe and loved. You don’t have to wait in long lines or max out your credit cards to make this happen. You just gotta show up and do it! So do it!!
Merry freakin’ Christmas!!
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