Human trafficking and sexual exploitation affects all types of people and, unfortunately, all ages. If you are finding yourself spending a lot of time at home right now, you have a great opportunity to assess how you can inform and prepare your kids for the world we live in today. I’m breaking it down into 4 easy steps to keep things as simple as possible.
1. The Man In The Mirror
Where do your views on sexuality and sexual abuse come from? Are you prepared to speak from a place of wisdom and education, or are you bound by fear? If you find yourself motivated by your own trauma…you are not alone! If you don’t have a personal counselor or support system, I suggest you begin that journey of healing as soon as possible. There is nothing more safe and comforting to a child than a healed and healing parent. Feeling nervous? Join me in a quick prayer to prepare our hearts for this household journey.
Lord, my Father, you have set yourself as my strong tower and ever-present protector. I choose to offer you the fetter of fear and receive the freedom of your love for me and those entrusted to me in my home. May my mind remember and my heart rejoice with the knowledge of your fierce love and pursuit of my family. Search me oh Lord, and reveal any place where your peace is disrupted by the shrapnel of trauma.
Lead me, oh Lord, in the place of sanctification to ready my children for the world they face.
Teach me, oh Lord, how to present them with the gift of faith in your awesome power.
Empower me, oh Lord, with your words through your Holy Spirit.
In the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit
2. Abandon The Talk
We must rid our minds of the idea of sexuality being taught and discussed in a one-time, all-bases-covered, “birds and the bees” talk. For some strange reason the most complex issue of the human condition has been swept under the rug of the mysterious “talk”, and the rest trusted to twenty-something youth ministers or school curriculums. Parents should be offering values and wisdom about sex, physical autonomy, consent, and the reality of threats throughout their children’s lives.
For example, it is important for very young ones (toddlers) to know the proper names and privacy regarding their genitals. This is important to create a world free of shame or hiding the truth of their bodies. You may have a two-year-old that ruins Sunday school with an announcement regarding their new anatomy lesson. Remember the scene from kindergarten cop? Also, there have been scenarios of abuse where very young children were being abused but did not know how to say that they were being assaulted because they could not verbalize the part of the anatomy that was being violated.
As your child ages, they will have milestones where you should be prepared to discuss their bodies and sexuality. You are not alone in this! I will share my personal favorite books and resources for this at the end of this blog!
3. Become A Safe Place
One of the most difficult elements of my job is answering the phone calls we receive from many mothers who have had the unthinkable happen with their children. Often the child is under 18, being groomed for trafficking, or having already been trafficked, and the mother feels completely helpless. It is not the parent’s fault and I do not intend to shift blame. Many incredibly healthy families have children groomed and trafficked by people who make a science out of exploitation.
But one thing that can help parents is to become a safe, non-judgemental, or especially non-hysterical, place of security. What I mean by this, is if your child comes to you to discuss sexuality, something they heard at school, or God forbid some kind of abuse, you must remain calm. If you begin to panic, yell, or weep uncontrollably, you can re-traumatize your children, or make them feel as though they made a mistake in sharing. This may be especially true in instances where they are attempting to communicate abuse. When they find themselves trying to share with a distressed mother or father the grief process is often further repressed.
So, be calm, be gracious, and do not be over-emotional. Instead, give space for their tender feelings and thoughts to come forward.
One survivor of childhood sexual assault shared:
“When I was 9 years old, I confessed to my parents my abuse that happened in elementary school by a family member. I was met with a very dramatic show of weeping, and shame by my mother. The hysteria was followed by terrorized questions about my virginity. I found myself comforting my mother and consoling her by telling her it was okay because I was still technically a virgin. I learned that later in my life when I had been abused again that telling someone would only cause more shame and trouble. This led me to be vulnerable to future abuse again, and again.”
4. Don’t Go It Alone
There are many great support groups, family therapists, books, and ministries that exist to help families on their journey of training and healing. There is no gold medal for knowing it all, only wisdom to be gained in seeking. I want to conclude by sharing some of my favorite resources with you to aid your family’s journey. Feel free to use them or reach out to our Elijah Rising staff for more information! Remember there is no fear in love. He is with us every step of the way.