Some months ago, Dylan Farrow wrote an open letter about the abuse of her father, Woody Allen. Because of his celebrity status, the letter was published in the NY Times and received a lot of media attention.
But what about the unheard voices? Voices of little girls and boys around the globe suffering in silence?
I have talked with many sexual abuse victims. Their stories are all very achingly similar. A friend or relative that they have been taught to love and respect breaks trust and touches them inappropriately. Those awkward touches escalate over time into sexual assault. We have all heard horrifying stories.
As a mother, I asked myself; how can I protect my child? Of course, I’ve the import question. “Has anyone touched you inappropriately?”
Then one day while grocery shopping, we see a distant relative. He’s an older gentlemen and he asks her for a hug.
I watch as she grimaced and endured an awkward embrace. Me, being a paranoid mom, watched his hands very carefully, but both touched only her shoulders.
Yet, she clearly didn’t want the hug.
When we were back in the car, I asked, “Why did you hug him, if you didn’t want to?”
Her answer astounded me. She said, “I didn’t want to be rude.”
My 10 year old daughter accepted a hug that she clearly didn’t want, because I had taught her to be nice.
Right there in the parking lot. I assured her that her body was special. A gift from God. And she didn’t have to hug or kiss anyone.
But it was rude of people to claim her affections without permission.
As a mother, I’ve often struggled with ways to protect my children from sexual predators without revealing more sexual knowledge than their immature minds can process.
Their bodies belong to God. And no one has a right to touch them without their permission. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to tell them that your hugs belong to Jesus.
Later that night, I wondered again why she didn’t want to the man to hug her. So I asked.
Her answer, “He has bad breath.”