Since beginning my work with teens almost twenty years ago, I have been blown away by the large number of girls who reveal in their anonymous letters that they have been raped or molested.
Unfortunately, very few of the young ladies receive any counseling.
They often don’t tell anyone and self-medicate their pain instead.
For many of them, sex simply becomes their medication of choice.
Like this 8th grade young lady who lost her sense of worth after being molested (which sadly is quite common).
“I thought because I had been molested twice on two different occasions,
it didn’t matter anymore, my life or anything.
So, I gave sex to guys in the past.”
Why Don’t Girls Tell?
They don’t think anyone will believe them…
“To give you a little background, when I was younger, I was molested for years by my younger brother’s dad. I never once told anyone but my best friend. Even after years of her encouraging me to speak out I couldn’t; it was as if I lost my voice. At a young age I went numb, nightmares and the lack of sleep just turned worse. Every day I wonder what difference it would have made if I could have moved past my fear of no one believing me. Who would? I was just a child. I was to be seen not heard.
As a senior in high school my mom now knows and I’m now a lesbian.”
Many times, they aren’t believed…
“I was raped when I was 12 and my mom didn’t believe me.
Soon after that, I had sex because I wanted to be in control
on whether I had sex or not, not the guy.”
Can you imagine your daughter having sex just so she wouldn’t have to worry about being raped again?
To believe that the best way to prevent sex from ever being TAKEN from her again, is to GIVE it away?
It breaks my heart to see any girl think this way.
And I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard teen girls say their mothers didn’t believe them when they told them they had been raped or molested.
You never want your daughter to doubt that she’ll be believed.
So please make sure she knows you’ll take any accusation she makes against anyone seriously.
Where does the rape/molestation lead?
It often leads to a life of promiscuity.
“At age 11, I was molested at a family event and didn’t speak up for myself. A year after that, I was raped at age 12. This rape traumatized me so bad. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or speak! I ask myself all the time, “Why me?” After all of this happened to me, I went on a wild escapade. From 13-16, I had a total of 18 sexual partners; only 3 were boyfriends. I was just so lost with myself and I thought having sex was going to make me happy.”
(Note: Though all the letters in this post are from girls, molestation and rape also happens to boys. Boys are just not as open to share it in their letters, but they also need protecting!)
Child abuse experts say effective prevention programs for younger children cover the following topics:
- the difference between “good” and “bad” touching
- the child’s right to control what happens to his or her body (don’t force them to hug an adult against their will)
- the importance of telling an adult, even if victims have been told to keep what’s happened a secret
- assertiveness skills, such as how to say “no” to authority figures
- where they can go for help
If we’re going to turn the tide on this heartbreaking issue, parents must become more vigilant about protecting their children, even when their children become teenagers.
The following are practical things you can do:
- Be very selective about allowing your daughter to attend sleepovers at friends’ houses. Make sure you REALLY know the parents of her friends and can be assured they share your values.
- Don’t assume your daughter is safe with someone just because that person is a relative. Sexual abuse is often committed by a relative.
- Create an envirornment in your home where your daughter feels comfortable talking with you about anything. She needs to know you love her unconditionally no matter what!
- If you begin to notice behavior that is out of the ordinary for your teen (i.e. depression, becoming a loner, cutting, dressing provocatively, etc.), do not just blow it off as “just being a teenager.” Do what you can to get to the root cause of the issue.
I realize this is a tough conversation to have with your daughter.
But there is something that’s worse—not having the conversation and wishing you had.
So please, don’t make the mistake of skipping this one.
And if you’re not sure where to begin, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of my e-course, How to Have the Tough Conversations with your Teen.
It provides a step-by-step guide of what to say and how to say it in a way that makes your daughter feel safe and affirmed.
I pray sexual assault is an issue your daughter will NEVER have to face.
Whether you believe she has or hasn’t, you’ll never know for sure until you start having the tough conversations with her.
The important thing to remember is this: Whatever your daughter confides in you, believe her!
P.S. Doing this work has taught me just how important Sexual Assault Awareness is and should be for ALL parents. I’ve consoled enough girls over this issue to know that it. is. common. And that has to end! I’ve already listed practical things you can do to help protect your daughter. But if you’re looking for practical things to say to help engage and empower her, go here to order my How to Have the Tough Conversations with your Teen e-course. You don’t have to tackle this issue alone.
P.P.S. Sexual assault is the hot button issue that no where near enough parents are talking about with their kids. And unfortunately it thrives in silence. Which is why I wrote this post and why I’m asking you now to PLEASE share it on your social networks. The more parents who are aware of how common sexual assault is among teens, the better we’re able to protect them. So please help spread the word. Thank you!