Guest Post – Sexual Abuse and Parenting

With everything that has happened with Penn State in the last few days, this post is needed.  This post is important, it is necessary, not only to those that are survivors of sexual abuse, but to people and parents that need to know the other side.  I received this from Rachelle, and please do be warned that this post can be triggering for anyone that has survived a sexual assault, assault, anyone that does not wish to read, etc.

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I was a victim of sexual abuse when I was a child. My parents had no idea. It was an isolated incident and it wasn’t until I grew up that I realized what had happened was very wrong. I feel lucky. It could have been so much worse. However, it doesn’t change the fact that this incident still haunts me. It affected me very negatively. I feel like 99% of the time I am totally fine and have moved past it and certainly don’t dwell on it. And then a news story like this hits the press and I find myself shocked, hurt, and terrified that something like that will happen to my child.

I started worrying and it didn’t take long for it to turn into a full on panic attack. My thoughts were racing, my heart was pounding and I had trouble breathing. I was finally able to calm myself down but it just got worse from there. I began to hate myself. I hated myself for wanting and choosing to bring children into such a sick world. I felt powerless against the evils that exist.

I talked to a friend about it and her response was, “But you’re a good parent.” My parents were good parents and yet it still happened to me. Many children who fall victim to horrific things have good parents. I felt sick with worry. I felt vulnerable and afraid to let my son out of my sight. Ever. If my devoted, involved and caring parents couldn’t protect me, how could I protect my child? Having an understanding of the shame, guilt and pain that victims of sexual abuse experience, I felt horrified at the thought of not being able to sheild my child from those things. I felt my whole world collapsing in around me and felt as though I had no power over anything anymore. I felt defeated. Broken. I was mourning the loss of innocense that happens to children far earlier than it should and in such an ugly way.

After a while I began to separate my tragic experience from my son’s future. I forced myself to remember that this abuse has never and will never define me. I am not going to let it force me into paranoid parenting. I am not going to feel guilty for bringing my son into a world where, while dangerous, is still filled with more beauty and good than we can ever know. I decided to focus on the real reason I brought a child into the world. I chose to have a child because I believe in helping create a bright future for our world. I brought a child into this world because I have the capacity and desire to love like only a parent can. I know I have the power to be the kind of parent my son will be proud of. I know I can’t protect him from everything, but I can love him, teach him, and guide him through anything.

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