It was time to initiate the chat with my older daughter this week. She’s 10. She was sat at the breakfast bar drawing. My husband and I were sat near her in the family lounge. I hadn’t wanted it to be premeditated or else I’d feel the pressure and panic. So I casually asked her about the word she’d used the previous weekend that caused me to get very angry. The word that made me send her to room for using it out of context and that had her Father speak to her about it. At first she couldn’t remember which really got my shackles to rise. My husband prompted her the word was ‘raping.’ She said yes rather dismissively and I went over what she thought it meant and what it actually meant.
We have taught all of our children the basics about bad touching and that adults might tell them to keep ‘secrets’ we’ve covered that bad touching can be done by other children, teachers, parents, even people that should know better like police officers and that regardless of what is said and/or done they must always tell us.
We used the word raping to explain that could mean different types of assault and usually forced. My daughter asked how someone could force themselves on you. I could feel my strength was wavering. But I persevered and gave examples without being brutal enough to give the kid nightmares. Then suddenly she said, ‘did you say no?’ I said what? She repeated the question. I felt my entire life drain out of me.
My husband took over the conversation and brought home the importance always communicating any unwanted attention and also only using the word correctly. Then I came on really strong going over it all again until she got really upset and ran running from the room in tears saying she didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
Mother fail. Again.
When I was growing up my parents didn’t teach me anything. They taught me things like not putting elbows on the table, how to sit like a lady, children are seen and not heard, etc. I didn’t have sex education, and my parents didn’t even tell me about periods. So when I got my first period, I thought I was dying.
When I was raped, I knew something was wrong as I was in pain and the man seemed angry but I didn’t know what it was. When I wet the bed for months afterwards (at 14), no one said anything, no one told me it wasn’t right. The nightmares, the self harm, not eating, was all visibly apparent but wasn’t discussed and they were coping mechanisms that I had learnt and no one told me they weren’t healthy.
When I met this gorgeous man at 17/18 and that began this spiral into a terribly unhealthy relationship of re victimisation all I knew was that I had a man that I believed could keep me safe and would stand by me.
I was, ill prepared.
When I pressed charges against the man that raped me my parents told me that they knew something had happened but felt it was up to me to tell them.
But how could I? I didn’t understand what had happened to me.
So now I have this powerful urge to fill my daughters with as much knowledge as I possibly can. Forewarned is forearmed. Because I know I spent most of my childhood confused, fearful and alone. I was embarrassed, ashamed, I didn’t know where to turn. And I NEVER EVER want my children to experience that.
But I don’t want to overload them like I did this weekend to my daughter. Fortunately my husband can be objective and play mediator. I’m just so scared for them. I don’t want to fail them.