Next week I plan to start blogging again, at least once or twice a week... now that I am figuring out life with 2 boys! It is still a work in progress for sure. Check back next week for an update and pictures from our Labor and Delivery & our Sip and See!!!
No One Wants to Talk About It (Sexual Abuse)
Hello everyone!! I would first like to introduce myself and give you some insight to my life before I get into the “heavy stuff.” My name is Amanda, please bear with me, because this is my first blogging experience! I have often considered writing as a hobby or even writing a book based on some of my life experiences, which I will get into during this blog. I met Jordan through Instagram and her Facebook page, FIT by Jordan. I loved watching her and became inspired to get healthy myself. I have had many ups and downs throughout my own fitness journey, as many people do. Feel free to add me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agoolsby1) or follow my fitness journey on Instagram @mrsmiller_10. In December 2010, I had the pleasure of marrying my high school sweetheart, Brant. Since then, we have added two four-legged babies to our family, Brutus and Bella, our miniature schnauzers. We have been together for eight total years now and I’ve loved every second of it. My husband just graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, and I will be graduating in December with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education.
I suppose it’s now time to get into the conversation about sexual abuse. I’m sure many of you have recently heard about Josh Duggar’s past convictions coming to light in the news. Now I won’t go into detail about his specific case, but I will give you another story much like it, mine. As a child, I had a very large family, including three siblings and eight cousins. I enjoyed spending time with each and every one of them because they loved me too. Around the age of 8, I started experiencing something that didn’t feel quite right. I was not sure how to explain it, but I felt like I needed to tell someone. Without going into additional detail, I will say that this same strange thing was happening to two of my cousins as well. We discussed what was happening and even compared our stories, realizing that we were all experiencing the same thing.
My grandfather would often take us for rides on the four-wheeler and motorcycle, take us swimming in his pond and even let us stay the night. As I mentioned, around the age of 8, things began to change. I noticed him doing things that I felt were awkward and not something he should be doing. He would rub and touch my body in areas I knew he shouldn’t be doing that. He would also pin me up against things, using his body weight to perform acts that would benefit him. [I must clarify here that my clothes were never removed and I was not raped. I do not want anyone to be confused as to what exactly happened.] My cousins and I talked about how we wanted to tell someone what was happening to us, but we were not sure how to explain it, because as children, we didn’t know what the name for it was. We were also concerned with who we would tell, afraid no one would believe us and even thought we would be taken away from our families, then we would never see each other again. Since we were scared of what would happen, we kept quiet and didn’t tell anyone. The abuse continued until I was around 13/14, at this time, it slowly became less and less until it finally stopped all together. I guess my cousins and I were so happy that it stopped that we never thought to tell anyone what happened, so we went on with our lives as if nothing had ever happened.
Fast forward to Easter 2009, the end of my senior year of high school. During my senior year, I was only taking one class at the high school and taking post-secondary classes at the community college to get college credits. This means I was home a lot. One morning I was just standing around in the kitchen when my mom approached me. She had a look on her face that made me wonder what she was about to ask me. The conversation went as follows:
She said something along the lines of “I have a very serious question for you, and please tell me the truth,” this is really when I began to wonder.
“OK,” I agreed.
“Has your pappaw (this is what we called my grandfather) ever touched you?” she asked curiously.
Shocked is the only way to explain what I was feeling at that very moment. I didn’t know what to say. My instinct was to lie, I so badly wanted to say no because I was completely ashamed as all those bad memories came rushing back to my mind. Then, my second thought were the next words that came from my mouth “How did you know?” After this, we began to cry and I came to realize that other family member had come forward with accusations. The other family member was only 11 at the time of this, so my family was not sure if she had taken something out of context, so they came to me next. I felt so responsible for her abuse. I felt that if I had told at that time, it would not have happened to her. I became very depressed and cried myself to sleep many nights, although I was good at pretending everything was alright when I needed to be somewhere. That summer, my grandfather was convicted of three counts of GSI (Gross Sexual Imposition) and one count of attempted GSI. You can read more about GSI here (http://www.sexoffenderattorney.com/resources/criminal-defense/sex-crimes/what-gross-sexual-imposition-penalties-defense ). He served in prison for a total of 4 ½ years, never once was I given an apology. I, along with my cousins and other family member, were blamed for him being in prison. This made things even worse for me and made me question if I had done the right thing.
Prior to his release, I came to realize that I needed help. I was still depressed and not dealing with it very well. I would often become stressed, have anxiety attacks and seemed to be going out less and less. The abuse even crept into my marriage and began to affect my relationship with my husband. I decided to go to therapy. This was not a decision I took lightly, I was afraid of how it would be perceived or that people would consider me to be crazy. I found an amazing Christian therapist and continued to see her on and off for a year. As I went to therapy, I would talk about things that made me feel stressed and came up with techniques to handle the stress and anxiety I was experiencing. My husband once told me “I can really tell a difference when you go to therapy, you seem so much happier after you go.” Wow! Never had I imagined my husband would say something like that, but it was true. I was happier and able to start letting go of the past. Now, I feel that I am able to share my story and help people. I want to be an advocate for people who aren’t sure if they should speak out. What I want to discuss now are ways that you can talk to your family about sexual abuse, I do not have kids but having experienced abuse myself, I can give some suggestions on how to talk about this with ease.
3 Discussion Points:
1. Explain that their body is just that, theirs.
Young children often do not understand or know body safety. It is important to explain that they do not have to do anything that they do not want, especially if it makes them uncomfortable. If you find it difficult to have this conversation with your child, you can find children’s books written specifically for this. You could also schedule an appointment with a therapist for your whole family. When I was receiving counseling, my therapist stated that many times parents do not know how to talk about this with their children so they have their whole family talk to her as a group. Found on the right is a great handout you can read to your child(ren) and help them understand that they are in charge of their bodies. It is also a good idea to discuss this, and the second tip, with your adult family and friends because they need to understand the rules that your child(ren) is expected to follow.
2. No secrets
I read an excellent blog that discussed the importance of not keeping secrets. The article is found here (http://www.denvermomsblog.com/parenting/why-we-dont-keep-secrets-in-our-house/ ). I know, I know, everyone has secrets they like to keep but as far as children go, I do not believe they should keep secrets for this very reason. A child should be encouraged to tell their parents/ guardians everything. At one point in time one of my siblings was asked to keep a secret for a friend. This secret involved the friend contemplating suicide. My sibling was scared for the friend and told my parents. I believe this case provided to opportunity for the friend to receive help, which she did. Keeping secrets may seem harmless, but if a child is with a sex offender and is asked to not tell anyone, or even pressured to keep the secret, it can help save your child from being harmed.
3. Openly talk
There is not enough I can say about this. While it is important to not have secrets and explain that your child is in charge of their body, it is extremely important to talk about these often. For example, start talking to your child around age 4/5. They may not understand everything that you need to tell them but you can start them out easy, like reading one of the children’s books which discuss body safety, while providing body safety rules for them to follow. Then bring up this topic a year or two later, around age 7/8. At this time, your child may understand more than the last time you talked to them. Each time you discuss this with you child(ren), increase the knowledge level and importance of the topic. Also explain why they need to follow your suggestions or rules!
Although this blog was extremely hard for me to write, my hope is that I can get the discussion about sexual abuse/assault going and help someone better understand how to prevent this happening to their child(ren) in the future. Thank you all for reading J