Talking about any type of abuse takes a lot of strength. Today, female victims of sexual assault and abuse may be more comfortable speaking publicly about their experiences and because of that, we’re having the conversation more often. But is it the same for male survivors?
Being a male survivor of child sex abuse is still very taboo and greatly under-reported.
According to 1in6.org and the Center for Disease Control, At least 1 in 6 men and boys have been sexually abused or assaulted.
I’m embarrassed to say that the assault of men and boys, honestly wasn’t on my radar as much as the abuse of girls. Now, I’m laser-focused on prevention so that parents (especially single-moms) aren’t blind-sided.
Four practical ways to help protect your child from pedophiles:
#1 – Have the conversation more than once
Sexual abuse may be an uncomfortable subject for many parents but its literally a matter of life or death. Just because you had ‘the talk’ with your son when he was eight, don’t assume he’d be completely comfortable telling you right away if something happened.
For males, the shame can be unbearable and not worth being judged or not believed.
Keep talking about it! Use various resources if you have to, educational videos and books are still a thing.
The purpose of having the conversation several times, is to make it a familiar, common subject in your household. If something ever happened, your son will know that it’s not his fault, which will help him get past the shame and disclose an incident sooner than later.
#2 – Beware of misconceptions
I was always concerned that while teaching my children to respect their elders, they might perceive that rule as; never question an authority figure or adults are always right. Which we all know is definitely not true!
Psychologists say, the abuser/predator is usually someone close to the family. Help your child understand that not all adults mean them well.
#3 – Don’t ignore red-flags
It can be easy to miss typical warning signs because depressed individuals are great at hiding their feelings.
Parents, if you have a fleeting thought or inkling that something could be wrong… GO WITH THAT. Get nosey, don’t wait until something happens to comb through your child’s phone and tablet.
It may be helpful to teach your child (of any age), that whenever a person says, “don’t tell anyone“; they’re either about to do something wrong or have already done something wrong.
When it comes to our children, it’s better safe than sorry. No one gets an automatic “trust badge” just because they’re in a noble profession.
Remember, no one is a pedophile until they’re caught and convicted.
#4 – Never judge a book by its cover
Don’t be caught off guard! Just because someone has a noble title such as; Bishop, Doctor or Police Officer doesn’t automatically make them trustworthy. We would like to think-so, but we don’t live in a perfect world.There are good and bad people in every city, country, religion, ethnicity, and so-on.
Let’s forget credentials, forget the squeaky clean background check, forget that he was once voted mentor-of-the-year, never mind that he’s a former NFL player and now coaches your son.
I’m not saying you should be paranoid, but realistically, things can happen when we least expect it.
Here’s a quick reminder of a few abuse cases that made headline news:
FACT: At least 1 in 6 men have experienced sexual abuse or assault, according to leading research. Read about the statistic, find helpful information, chat with a trained advocate through the 24/7 national helpline, join a weekly online support group, view male survivors’ stories, etc. You’re not alone. Visit: https://1in6.org/