All eyes are on me. It's my turn to answer the question.
I take a deep breath and respond, "I write about sexual abuse."
I get this question all the time when I attend writers' conferences. It's a natural inquiry at lunch or over dinner with fellow writers. Sometimes my response is followed by an awkward silence, especially in mixed company, but most of the time, the table comes alive with questions, comments, and most often, with a disclosure from a female. "It happened to me." She says, "Thank you for doing what you're doing."
"You're welcome." I say.
I know sexual abuse isn't easy to talk about, but the more we talk about it, the less power it has to enslave survivors and harm our kids. The pain of sexual abuse thrives in silence; the act of sexual abuse depends on silence.
So talk about it, talk about it, and talk about it some more. Let those around you (friends, family, babysitters, and neighbors) know you've been reading about how to protect your kids. Ask your child's coaches, church leaders, and music instructors what their organizations are doing to protect your kids from perpetrators.
Raising our voices regarding this issue has the power to shatter the silence that erodes a survivor's life and the power to divert the perpetrator who steals a child's innocence.
Please join me. Take a deep breath and say, "I speak about sexual abuse."
And I promise you, someday, someone will say, "Thank you."
Step Six: Talk about sexual abuse. Joining our voices has the power to shatter the silence that erodes a survivor's life and the power to divert the perpetrator who steals a child's innocence. Perpetrators thrive in environments of silence and ignorance. They also count on our children to keep secrets. We must teach our children that, within our families, we don’t keep secrets (step five). We must also empower our children to say no to adults when they don't feel like hugging or kissing because perpetrators avoid confident children who know they can set boundaries (step four). And remember that perpetrators avoid knowledgeable, confident kids (step three) who have a relationship with their parents (step two), especially those parents who refuse to ignore the epidemic of childhood sexual abuse (step one).