It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. – Frederick Douglass
Here I am, once again sickened by the news of yet another young person suffering from the actions and desires of a sexual predator. Here I am, once again angered of another sexual abuse case that has ended in a less than satisfactory outcome. A 19-year-old Kingston, Ontario man was sentenced to 17 MONTHS of jail time and a whopping 50 hours of community service for his abusive and obsessive crime. Where is the fucking justice and deterrence in that sentence?
The victim? a 13-year-old girl.
The man was obsessive with control over the girl, he would relentlessly check on her via text message whenever she was out with her parents. He would send controlling text messages to her while she was in class. He would demand pictures of her naked in the shower. He would also send her pictures of his penis. How did he gain her trust? How did he gain her control? By threatening to kill himself if she did not comply or break loose from his control. He was preying on her innocent empathy. She became trapped with the fear of being responsible for his demise.
How did this situation come to light? The child’s mother read her daughter’s journal. In that journal was her daughter’s struggle of how to get out of that situation. She was simply not capable of breaking away so she wrote all about it. She later told adults that he made her feel “dirty”. Now she is going to struggle with those thoughts for a very long time. Sickeningly terrifying.
If there is anything to take away from this dire situation is that we need to arm our children with the knowledge and unwavering trust to speak up when they are in uncomfortable situations. Since we cannot rely on our justice system as a deterrence, all we can do ourselves is to galvanize our children so they will not become victims. We need to ensure our children can trust that we will not get angry if they tell us that they are in trouble or that they did something wrong. This open line of communication will ensure that they are not left to writing their troubles in a journal in hopes that someday, somehow their troubles will go away. Thankfully, she had that outlet, otherwise, she would most likely still be under the influence of this predator.
We must find our patience when dealing with children when they come to us with their troubles in life. What may seem minor to us can be quite insurmountable to them. We must refrain from instant anger and judgement, we need to work alongside them to find a solution and build up their self-esteem. This can be very hard, but it has to be a seed planted in your mindset that when these situations arise, your first instinct is to earn your child’s trust through two-way dialogue. Our reaction to their request will be the sample they carry with them as they mature.
Please, be open with your children about the reality of sexual abuse or any abuse for that matter. Ensure that they can trust you with whatever feelings that they may have about any relationship they may enter. Ensure that you are the one they can undoubtedly trust before a sexual predator takes that honour from you. Once that predator wins that trust, your child may never trust another person again. Take it from me, it happens. I was that child, I live with that pain every day.