Monday, May 20, 2013

I spoke the truth

The truth will set you free.
The irony of this statement is that it was the only good advice my father, my abuser, gave me.
Today I will speak on the radio about how important it is to educate your children about sexual abuse and how to keep themselves safe. I'm free

From about the age of two, every now and then Laura and I would read a story book called Yummy touches, Yukky Touches. It was a book that had been given to me from my counsellor when I asked her how I could teach my children about sexual abuse and how to take care of themselves. It was a simplistic book, with simple drawings, and simple concepts. Themes easy to recognise for a young child. It talked about how you feel on a lovely sunny day compared to how you felt sitting in a hot car on a sunny day. One, you feel yummy inside, the other makes you feel yukky inside. It talked about five people, like your five fingers, that you could tell if something was making you feel yukky inside. As a parent you would discuss with your child who those five people could be.
It was great because it gave her and I a common point to start from, in language she could identify with. There were certain people in our lives that made me feel uncomfortable - 'yukky' inside. I made the choice that I would rather err on the side of caution then not listen to that uncomfortable feeling inside because someones feelings were going to get hurt. I am her mother. Its my job to protect her and teach her to keep herself safe.
One day when Laura was five, she and I sat together playing with play dough. It was lovely to spend time with her, one on one. Having a little brother meant it didn't happen as much it used to. It also provided the opportunity to have a conversation with her that we'd had from time to time. The yummy yukky chat. We would talk about the book, and who the five people were that she could talk to. Sometimes they changed, most of the time they were the same five people. People that I had very deliberately placed in her life. Mummy, Daddy, Sam, Sharon, Granma.
We had been talking, and had moved on to other things, what could we make, what should we have for dinner, just generally playing. Then, from out of nowhere, Laura looked at me and asked, "Mummy, when you were a little girl, did someone touch you?"
I froze.
My internal dialogue argued as to what my response was going to be, screaming all at the same time OH MY GOD!!!!!
I had made a very conscious choice when I had children that I would answer their questions truthfully, age appropriately, and if felt that they didn't need to know right now then I would say that. Not Lie.
OH MY GOD!!!!!
The pause between Laura asking me the question, and my silence was long enough to prompt her to ask me again. "Mummy? ... Did someone touch you?"
I looked at my darling innocent child, torn between telling the truth and wanting her to remain in a world that was safe, full of fairies and magic and bad stuff didn't happen... 
 I spoke the truth.
"Yes. ... They did." (and exhale...)
She looked at me, with those beautiful blue eyes, "Why did you let them?"
I took a deep breath. "Because no one ever told me that it was OK to say no."
She got up from her chair, came and sat on my lap, wrapped her little arms around me, giving me a big cuddle. My beautiful girl, who taught me what unconditional love meant.

Last Wednesday I did something that was huge. I used my voice. I spoke my truth, in about as public arena as I have ever been in. On ABC 612 with Steve Austin.

When Naomi from Seven Cherubs contacted me asking if I wanted to do something in educating our children about how to keep themselves safe from sexual abuse my answer was a resounding YES! My own experiences led me to seek information on how I can keep my children safe from the moment I found out I was pregnant with my daughter. Its information that I passionately feel needs to be shared, over and over, and over again.

Sexual abuse is not a warm fuzzy subject people want to talk about. Because it's not, it is even more important that we are having these conversations, sharing information, educating our children. We teach our kids how to stay safe on the road, the right foods to eat to look after our bodies, how to not spread germs when you have a cold. Constantly, every day, we have opportunities to teach our children something about the amazing world we live in. Yet, so many of us balk when it comes to discussing with our children how to keep themselves safe from predators.

Do they balk because they don't know how to approach it? or have a mentality it won't happen to my child? or because they would rather not look, don't see? It could be any of these reasons, all of them, or something completely different. My plea is don't balk. Walk outside your comfort zone, and educate YOURSELF so you can educate your children.

Bravehearts is a valuable resource for parents. Want some facts? This PDF is full of them. They run an education program Ditto's Keep Safe Adventure Show and have resources available to buy through their online shop.

There is a myriad of children's picture books that can be used in a safe, healthy way to share information with your child. I have listed three below:

The Right Touch A Read Aloud Story to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse by Sandy Kleven
Everyone's got a bottom by Family Planning Queensland
My Body Belongs to me by Jill Starishevsky

I looked at the catalogue at my local library. Two of the above books where available to borrow. So check out your local library if you don't want to buy one.

Nathalie over at Easy Peasy Kids also has some great resources - this blog post talks about teaching your children how to say no

Seven Cherubs has also written 10 Tips to protect your children from being sexually abused.

I can't thank Namoi, Amanda and Steve enough for the opportunity to stand back in my power. I'm back from that place of fear. I'm not going anywhere. I have a voice, and I'm going to use it.

If you want to hear my debut on the radio click here to get taken to the podcast.

Please re-share this. I will never ask you to share a post of mine every again. But this one. Please.

This is as real as you can get. And because its so important to me to reach as many people as I possibly can I'm joining up with Jenni from Story of My Life May Challenge - Day 20 of Blog Every Day In May. Get real. Share something you're struggling with right now.


  1. Vicky, how wonderfully wise and brave you are. Thank you for sharing. You are a wonderful mother, and an inspiration.

    1. Thank you Bronnie. I don't feel either wise or brave. Just doing something that needs to be done.

  2. Congratulations on your radio debut lovely. Often to listen to it now. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  3. Well done for sharing your story Vicky - not an easy thing for you to do, but many people will be so grateful for your courage. It's a subject that needs to be talked about a lot more to break the silence that surrounds it. Good on you for using your voice.

    1. Thank you Deb. dialogue needs to be happening with our children. It's unfortunate, but necessary.

  4. WOW - what a powerful post. If only we had books like that when I had a small child.
    Thanks for sharing all the resources so others can prevent their children from similar experiences.
    Have a great day !

    1. Thanks. That is my hope, by educating our children, they can be kept safe

  5. This is a brave and beautiful post. We have talked about this, my children and I, but I will broach it again, it bears repeating.

  6. So proud of you for being so courageous and handling the situation with such grace and such truth.

  7. Well done, Vicky. Someone had to be brave to get this out there and I think you were the perfect person for the job.

  8. Well done Vicky....for your courage and honesty.

  9. Thanks for such a brave post Vicky, it's something I will always try to discuss openly with my kids x

  10. Thanks for being so brave to share your experience. I actually bought the Everyone's Got A Bottom book online a few years ago. I had no idea it was about preventing sexual abuse. I thought it was a funny book about bottoms. I read it and was confronted with the reality that this was something important that my children had to know.

    We've been reading the book for years and they all love it. It's become part of our vocabulary, "From our head to our toes, we can say what goes."

    I'm so glad I accidentally bought it otherwise I probably wouldn't have been even having the conversation with them. It would have seemed to hard. But it's not. Again, thank you.

  11. An incredibly moving story. Thank you for sharing, and therefore, making a difference to other peoples lives. xo

  12. Great post, Vicky. My son had a bravehearts performance in school and admittedly it confused him a lot, so we talked about it a whole lot. But it's good to refresh sometimes, you're right. X

  13. thank you for sharing your story to help others x

  14. The more people write with such honesty and insight, the more every kid out there will know that it's not OK when someone touches you inappropriately and they can use their voice to say so. They can't thank you enough, Vicky. x

  15. That's such a difficult topic to approach when you have no idea how to do it.. thanks so much for sharing your story and for all the resources that you are sharing in the post. I'll be sure to check them out.

  16. You are an inspiration Vicky. Thank you for looking out for all of our children x

  17. Vicky, an amazing post. I am sorry that you had that experience and yet so grateful you are willing to talk about it and encourage and equip your fellow parents about keeping out kids safe. Thank you! I WILL share it! xx

  18. Great post Vicki! Very sad that you have had this experience in your childhood ... but I am so impressed with how you are approaching the subject with your kids. I like the yummy touches and yucky touches concept! How insightful was your daughter and what a shock to get asked that question. You did the right thing in telling her the truth. Min xo

  19. I admire you for your bravery and honesty. Thank you for encouraging us to get out of our comfort zone. So so important.

  20. Cannot believe I missed this Vicky. So inspiring, brave and beautiful. Your daughter is indeed very blessed to have you as her guide. x

  21. What bravery Vicky - well done. You've shared something so personal and you will help so many. I have this new saying - people sharing their stories helps other people share their stories.
    Good luck to you. Well done for going so public.

  22. The most powerful part of this post is the beginning. Thank you for sharing your story. Brave heart indeed.


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