It's never too late to begin the healing process from childhood sexual abuse. It's never too early to fall in love with the person God created you to be. Long ago someone made a choice to take away your innocence, but today that someone can't touch your freedom to heal.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

No! She Didn't Just Write That, Did She? (Teaching Our Kids about Sex While Protecting Them Too, Part 4)

“But won’t I take away his innocence? I mean, teaching him about sex, won’t that put ideas into his little head?”

Perhaps you've had this question too. It’s a good one. And in my humble opinion, there’s nothing more precious than a child’s innocence. It’s sacred. It must be protected.

But here’s the thing, it is not knowledge that destroys innocence. It is silence and shame.
Image courtesy of ImageryMajestic/Free

I've been reading the experts.

Do you know that male fetuses have erections in utero?

I know . . . you just squirmed reading that. Sorry. But hang in here with me.

Take a deep breath now. Here’s another one, it’s not uncommon for both male and female infants to experience sexual arousal during nursing. It’s as natural to their bodies as a hiccup or a burp.

Fast forward a year or two. You find your little one with their hands in their pants. You have a choice to make. Do you freak out, "Stop that! Stop that RIGHT NOW!" Or do you acknowledge their sexuality? “Yep Sammy, that feels good doesn't it? It’s great that our bodies were designed to feel good." Then redirect their attention. "Can you go get that new toy you got for your birthday? Show me how it works.”

One response brings silence and shame, the other knowledge.

Our kids are sexual beings. We are sexual beings.

When we ignore this important part of who they are, of who we are, we are pushing them toward silence and secrets. Their bodies are going to respond to stimuli. Are we going to guide them through it or pretend it doesn't exist?

Won't teaching my child about sex take away his innocence? is a good question. Perhaps the better question is, How do I want my child to approach his sexuality, with knowledge or shame?

Teaching healthy sexuality to our kids not only helps our children understand their bodies and feel validated, it helps protect them from sexual abuse. Predators want children who don’t understand their bodies and who are frightened to talk to their parents about sex and sexual abuse. It is not knowledge that destroys innocence. It is silence and shame.

Books I recommend to help you teach your children healthy sexuality. They help take the hyper out of your ventilation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Mountain of Fairytales (Spouses Caught in the Ripple, Part 5)

She thought one day her prince would come. He did. But he didn’t.

Copyright 2012 Rise and Shine Movement

A survivor wife shares:

One thing I have known for a long time.  I wanted him [my husband] to be my hero and savior.  I wished he would compensate for my areas of fear and insecurity.  I wanted the guy from the movies who is never afraid of anything, and was always there to make sure I was okay.  Or that's what I thought I wanted, anyway.  I know now that sometimes what you need is not what you want.  I still struggle at times with that feeling of wanting to be rescued, and not have to do the hard work.

There is a reason little girls dream of a prince. Disney knows that; they’ve made billions selling it. But do we?

A prince will give us value, turn our mountain of unworthiness into gold. He will turn our rags into ball gowns, our nightmares into a fairy tales. He will know what we need before we ever ask. Because the prince always “gets” the princess. He understands the healing words she longs to hear. He gives her story a happily-ever-after ending.

I’ve wished that for all of my survivor friends. They, of all people, deserve the prince—someone who turns hellish nightmares to heavenly realities. But wish I may, wish I might, may I have the wish I wish tonight? No. Because that’s Disney, not reality.

So what’s a survivor princess to do?

As my survivor friend admits so freely, “I still struggle at times with that feeling of wanting to be rescued, and not have to do the hard work.”

Hard work or rescue? Given a choice we would all choose rescue, not hard work. But rescue is not a choice. It never will be. Because as Dorothy says, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

I’m so thankful my survivor friend has chosen the hard work. I know her. I know her husband. There is so much beauty in watching them climb the mountains sexual abuse has created. And although the view for them is sometimes ugly, if you asked them, they would say that it’s been worth the climb. And every now and then, they get a glimpse of beauty that can only be described as miraculous.

And that’s why they’re sharing their story. To help you climb. Because far too many survivor princesses leave one prince to find another. And in searching for the fairy tale, they’re missing the view of a lifetime.

Please join us next week. We’ll take a rest from our climb. We’ll stop, take a breath, and learn practical things husbands can do to help their survivor wives thrive. 

Spouses Caught in the Ripple (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Words We Wish We'd Said (Teaching Our Kids about Sex While Protecting Them Too, Part 3)

“They teach that [sex education] in school. That’s their job. I don’t have to do it.” I could see the relief on my friend’s face as she spoke these words and could hear the “Whew, thank God that’s not my job” sighing between each sentence. She was relieved, free from that dreadful responsibility.

We were seated in a large group of women just as a meeting was beginning to start. She spoke her words loudly for all to hear. I remained mum on the subject. I didn't want to challenge her thinking, even though my gut was gurgling up so many come-backs I thought I might erupt. And it was clear that blissfully ignorant was where she wanted to remain. I didn't want to be a Debbie Downer and mess with her bliss. No sir, no bliss-messing for me.

Yet, she was rearing a flock of children and to this day, I remember her words.

Ah, those things we wish we had said. I can’t go back in time now, but if I could  . . .

“Ya know,” I think I would have said, “I think teaching kids about sex is a privilege and a parent’s responsibility. Do you really want to leave that to the school?’

And now, years later and with the knowledge I have about how to protect kids from sexual abuse, I would add, “Plus, teaching kids about healthy sexuality from the cradle helps protect them from sexual abuse. Do you want them to come to you if someone wants to play a secret sexual game with them? How can they tell you if you've never discussed the subject? How can they speak the words if they don’t know the proper names for their reproductive organs, what sex is, and what the definition of improper touch is?”

I’m sure my friend never thought past her own uneasiness with teaching healthy sexuality to think through the ramifications. I honestly believe if she would have known better, she would have done better.

Image Courtesy of Stewart Miles/
And that’s another reason why this momma refuses to be mum on this issue. I speaking to help you understand, so you can speak and your children can be protected.

Teaching Kids about Sex While Protecting Them Too Part 1, Part 2

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Mountain of Unworthiness (Spouses Caught in the Ripple, Part 4)

When she told her finance about her abuse, she thought he was thinking, Damaged Goods, but that was her thought, not his.

But what did she want to hear? If they could go back in time, what does she wish he would have said?

She writes: “Reassurances that I was still loved and valued by him and an acknowledgement that it was difficult for me to share my abuse with him.  Also, I wanted him to recognize that I must trust in him, in order, for me to share my past. 

I feel conflicted when I imagine him telling me these things. Still there is a deep part of me that wants to hear them, but an outer shell that feels shame when I am told how much I am loved and valued.  That seems so weird to write, because it is honestly what I desire most to hear.  But, maybe there is a part of me that feels undeserving of it?”

All children are born deserving of love and worthy of being valued. Enter sexual abuse and shame's echoes fill the soul, “Unworthy, unworthy, unworthy.”

Image courtesy of Dan,
And the mountain of unworthiness rises high above the newly married couple, daring them to climb.

Visit us next week  and join them in the climb.

To read Spouse Caught in the Ripple, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, please click on highlighted areas.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

C’mon, Give Those Reproductive Organs a Little R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (Teaching Our Kids about Sex While Protecting Them Too – Part 2)

“Our children don’t deserve our shame.” That statement erupted out of my mouth at my last speaking engagement. I was shocked. Not because I didn't think I believed that statement, but because it wasn't part of my original presentation. I usually like to examine my words over and over again before I spout them out to my audience. I think my listeners deserve that. But there it was—a big blurp out of my oral cavity. And as we all know, once something comes out of that orifice, we can’t take it back.

My mind went reeling as I continued to present my next points. That’s it. That’s why we don’t use the correct terms when we speak to our kids about their reproductive organs. We’re passing on our shame. Duh!

Now I've had some time to think about it. I've read the experts advice. And I still agree with my blurp. 

We all have our stuff. When we leave the hospital with that helpless, totally dependent creature in our arms, and a freshly packed diaper bag over our shoulder, we still have the invisible heavy backpack on our backs we took to the hospital—the backpack of shame.

I don’t know what your story is. Perhaps you were raised by one, two, or more people that never spoke to you about sex and you found out through friends, pornography, and wherever else you could find it. Shame. Perhaps you were raised in a home where you were told that sex is dirty. Shame. Perhaps you were raised in a home where you were taught that sex before marriage was wrong and if you participated in that whopper of a sin, you are evil, without hope of redemption. Shame. And even more grievous, maybe you experienced the ultimate violation—sexual abuse. SHAME.

Shame renders us mute. So we don’t speak about sex or give our reproductive organs the proper respect they’re due. Our helpless babes are left to navigate this territory without a navigator. “No thoughtfully packed bag containing a GPS for healthy sexuality for you kiddo, momma and poppa have their own backpacks to carry.”

Image courtesy of Photostock/
So what’s a loving parent like you supposed to do? First of all, choose to empty your backpack. Some of the items in your backpack were packed by others and, yes, some of them were packed by you. But there is healing and forgiveness available. But it is a choice you have to make. Find a good, trust-worthy friend or counselor and start talking. Unpack that backpack.

Secondly, don’t feel shame about your shame. If you haven’t used the proper terms for penis and vagina, start now. No shame in that.

Stand up tall, lighter, without the backpacks, and let’s begin at the beginning. If you have a daughter, she has a V.A.G.I.N.A. If you have a son, he has P.E.N.I.S. When we teach our children self-care, we use the correct terms and give our kids and our reproductive organs the respect they deserve. No made-up names. No silliness. Just a little R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

When we respect our sexuality, our children will. And when we teach healthy sexuality to our kids, we also help protect them from sexual abuse. Perpetrators look for children who lack knowledge. You CAN begin the conversations. You CAN do it! This not so "Mum Momma" is cheering for you!

And join me next week for Tamar's Redemption Thursdays - Parenting with Purpose, Parenting without Paranoia.

To read Teaching Our Kids about Sex While Protecting Them Too, Part 1, The Mum Momma click here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Mountain of Cluelessness (Spouses Caught in the Ripple, Part 3)

Damaged goods.
When my survivor friends told their boyfriends, who later became their husbands, about their abuse, the title Damaged Goods screamed in their heads. He’s thinking that I’m damaged goods. They waited for a response. They braced for rejection.
Couple One
The husband remembers. "I wanted to be her rock.  But, I really didn't know what to do with the information.  Inside I felt like I had a pit in my stomach.  I felt angry that it happened to her.  I struggled with what her abuse meant for us.  I wanted more details, but I was afraid to ask.  Abuse was something that happened to other people, not to people who were close to me, let alone the girl I thought I was going to marryIn the end I was determined to love her no matter what.  But, I didn't have a clue what that actually meant."
What to do? What does this mean? Details? Do I ask? Should I ask? Fear. Where did this come from? How did it enter my neat little world? Determined to love. Clueless as to how.
But Damaged Goods? No. Not his thought. Hers.
He had no clue what to do. And no idea what she needed to hear. What young person does?
Two young college students in love, wanting to spend the rest of their lives together.

And the wedding march played.  And the mountains remained.

Most of us come into marriage with our backpacks filled with traditions, expectations, and hurts. This baggage can create obstacles as we move through life together.  We weave around some, trudge by others as we climb through the years. But sexual abuse can’t be bypassed or ignored. It will show up again and again on the climb. Sometimes as a gnarled barren tree in our peripheral vision, we glimpse and move on, and sometimes as a rock that makes us stumble, slamming our knees to the ground, demanding attention. We have a choice. Look at the tree; examine the rock together, or journey on alone. I've chosen the couples I’m interviewing for this series because they journey together. The views aren't always beautiful; there are rocks that remain in their path. But they’re together in the climb.

To view Spouses Caught in the Ripple (Part 1), (Part 2), please click on highlighted area.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Mum Momma (Teaching Our Kids about Sex While Protecting Them Too, Part 1)

We were walking hand in-hand through Wal-Mart somewhere between the women’s section and the men’s department. Suddenly my seven year old yanked on my hand, pulling me in the opposite direction, covering his eyes with his other hand. “Don’t make me see that.”

I looked around. “See what?” I asked. I didn't see anything unusual.  

That.” He pointed in the direction of the negligees, bras and panties, while keeping his hand over his eyes, continuing to lead me in the other direction.

I honestly can’t remember how I responded, but I do remember feeling sad for him. He was trying to protect his childhood. And the intimate department at Wal-Mart was intruding on his innocence.
Photograhpy by Christy Mae, Used by permission, Copyright 2013

A child’s innocence. Nothing more precious. Nothing more vulnerable. Sacred. Our culture snatches it away far too early. You can’t go to the mall, the grocery store, or even Wal-Mart without encountering sexual images on display.

What’s a parent to do?

We can’t keep them home. We can’t continually block their view. And they won't cover their eyes forever.

How do we engage the culture, but protect them from it?

We teach sexuality. Sorry, I know it’s not the answer you wanted. This momma would prefer to remain mum on the issue too. But the experts tell us silence is the worst thing we can do.

So join me over the next several weeks as I attempt to make this job easier for you. I’ll read the wisdom of experts, and I’ll share little things you can do to teach your children about the birds and the bees. Okay, I’ll stop with the nonsense jargon. We’ll talk about teaching our kids about sex. There, I wrote it. It’s in black and white. No turning back now. We’re diving in, parents.

And here’s a promise. I’ll keep my posts short and practical.

See ya next week on Tamar's Redemption Thursdays: Parenting with Purpose, Parenting without Paranoia.

Teaching our kids about sex not only helps them navigate a sex saturated culture, it helps protect them from sexual abuse. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Mountain of Damaged Goods (Spouses Caught in the Ripple – Part 2)

“When did you first tell your spouse that you had been sexually abused?” I had emailed two different women through two private emails and asked them the same question.

They responded. Privately.

One had told within the first year of dating her spouse, the other had told when she knew marriage was looming in their future.

“My biggest fear was that he would view me as used or damaged goods.  That I would somehow not be new or special to him because of my abuse,” replied the one.

“At the time,” said the other, “I had no expectations about his response. Perhaps I wanted him to know I was damaged goods? It would ‘let him off the hook’ so to speak.”

Image courtesty of Michal Marcol/"

Two different women.  Two different abuse stories.

One description.

Damaged goods.

But that wasn't what the men were thinking when they heard. It wasn't what they were thinking—at all.

Please join us next Tuesday. The husbands respond.

To read Spouses Caught in the Ripple click here.
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