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sexual abuse...how do we know our dcs are safe?(11 Posts)
Recently an adult friend confided in me that as a child, pre-teen, she had been sexually abused by her father. It is only now after his death that she has felt able to say anything, and even now she has only spoken to myself and a counsellor. Her family know nothing about this. It has left me feeling extremely paranoid/concerned about my dd. How on earth do we know who we can trust? I don't know my dp's family well at all. How would I know if something was wrong. I even wonder could my partner ever do anything like this, which is such a horrid, messed up thought to have. Sorry for the morbid post, I am a new mother, and this has thrown me completely.
it's awful, isn't it?
I think the only thing you can do is impress on your children that if ever anybody does something which they feel uncomfortable with it's okay to say no, and if they do it anyway then that is very wrong, and it isn't their fault and to tell someone. Try to encourage an open communication between you and them. Listen to them. And on the other side entirely, teach them about respecting people's boundaries. Even with something as innocuous as tickling, or hugging, never force them, always stop if they ask and teach them to do the same.
First thing is to keep a sense of perspective rather than take one sad story and extrapolate it up out of proportion. Child abuse happens but it's pretty rare. When it comes to your children have to trust your judgement as a parent & trust your instincts about people. If you don't know your DP's family very well, now is probably a good time to rectify that. As for wondering if your partner could be a paedophile.... unless there is any real reason for thinking that, don't go there.
When DC''s are babies we keep them close and we protect them. But, as they get older, there comes a point where we have to trust others to take care of them and we have to give them the opportunity to explore the world without us constantly behind them. You need people to babysit occasionally if you want a social life. They'll go to nursery or school eventually. We all walk a line between giving them their freedom, trusting others, and wanting to make their lives 100% risk-free.... and suffocating them in the process.
So try to keep this shocking news in perspective and talk to your partner about how you feel. Good luck
It's never possible to be completely sure, and it's yet another thing to add to the worry list for new parents. But you can do things to improve your chances. If you are worried about someone in particular, then you can quietly make sure you don't leave your child alone with them - that goes for worries like this, plus all the other worries about them having a badly-behaved dog, or not thinking car seats are important etc.
And as your child gets older you can teach him/her about bodies and respect and good/bad secrets and all sorts of stuff like that which makes them less likely to suffer in silence.
You can also (hopefully) make sure you raise your child to know he/she is loved and important - abusers can often prey on children who don't get much affection or attention. Not always of course, but those are easier targets as they may not know what good attention feels like and so are more easily manipulated.
I'm sorry to hear about your friend, and it may be that none of this advice would have applied to her situation, but all you can do with most risks in life is be aware of them and reduce them where you can.
I was always told that as a family we didn't have secrets and there was nothing that I could not tell my parents.
We had surprises but not secrets.
I'll pass that on to my dd's, and let them know they can talk to me about anything
Of course you can't know for sure. But that cuts both ways. How does your dh know he can safely leave you with his precious child? It is not that uncommon for mothers to hurt or even murder their babies. But he trusts you because he thinks he knows you. And presumably he is right.
The best safeguard is to get to know the people around your dc and encourage a healthy openness within the family.
You might also want to think about attending a generalist safeguarding course (given for free by your local council, though you might have to assume the identity of a childminder or similar). It will give you a realistic assessment of the risk. You can't 100% protect your child, but the best thing to do is to be aware. Grooming is the most insidious and dangerous thing - it's not just of children but of families and communities.
As someone who has had these experiences myself I know that if the abuse is sufficiently early, teaching children about their bodies won't always help. My only recommendation is if you don't 100% like someone, or feel comfortable with them, do not leave your child with them, whoever they may be. My mother wasn't keen on my father's father (he was slightly racist, though nothing else obvious) but because he was my grandfather she didn't think further on it - turned out he abused three out of his four granddaughters.
Thanks for advice, ideas and making me realise that this is not a common occurance, but that I also am not completely crazy for worrying about it!
I think it's a condition of motherhood that we become more alert to 'danger' and start to see it where we previously didn't. Evolutionary speaking, it makes sense if we turn into metaphorical Impala round the water hole, pricking up our ears and sniffing the air for predators Survival etc.
But, at the same time, we're in charge of a human being that we have to get from 'helpless infant' to 'independent adult' within about an 18 year span. So it's always a balancing act of letting them explore the world and shielding them from the world. As long as you know that's what's going on & try to keep things in perspective, you'll be fine.
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