Wednesday, June 27, 2012

To the Survivors of Sandusky

In case you've been disconnected from the world, go read this to understand what this post is about.

To the young men who survived the abuse of Sandusky,

I want to thank you.  Thank you for your courage in speaking up.  Thank you for your bravery in taking the stand against this evil man.

Because of your courage, this man was brought to trial.  Because of that trial, I was able to teach an important lesson to my daughter.

We have been talking about privacy and respecting your body from early on.  We have spoken honestly about body part names and have also spoken directly about never letting anyone see them or touch them and to always tell Mommy or Daddy or another grown up right away... to run away if you can if someone talks to you about your privates.

Because I am also a survivor, I am especially cautious about what I say and how I say it.  I want to safeguard my children and empower my children but I don't want them to live their lives afraid of other people.

I had the news on this past weekend and there was blurb covering the verdict in Sandusky's trial.  The footage was showing Sandusky leaving the courthouse and getting into a squad car.

I called Teagan into the room (Zach was around but he came and went during this conversation).  I wanted her to understand that this man doesn't look like a Bad Guy.  He looks like a perfectly nice Grandpa type of guy.  But he's dangerous and evil and has done horrible, terrible things.

I explained to her that he was an Important Man at a College a long time ago.  I explained to her that he did something that other people thought was very nice- he started a camp for underprivileged kids to learn about football.  But he was really a very bad guy because he used that camp to meet young boys that he could hurt by touching their privates.  I explained to her that he probably threatened these boys that he would hurt their families if they told anyone so they kept it a secret for a long time.  I told her that these boys grew up and became young men and have come forward with the truth about what he did to them and now he is going to jail for what he did.  I reiterated what we've said before that no adult should ever ask to see her privates, to touch her privates, or do anything that makes her uncomfortable.  I affirmed our previous discussions that no matter what the person says, you have to tell Mommy or Daddy right away, no keeping Big Secrets in our family.

It was a hard conversation to face.  It was hard to introduce my daughter, even through the safety of a TV screen, to the face of a rapist, a molester.  But it was so important to make these talks we've had a little more real.

My greatest fear as a parent is that my child will be hurt the way I was hurt, shamed the way I was shamed, controlled the way I was controlled.  The family isn't ready to know about Mommy's story, Mommy's past.  When the time is right, it will be shared.

So again, I thank you.  I thank you for bringing this very important topic into my home in such a way that there was still a sense of safety for my child that this Bad Guy is in jail.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.



E.C. Montero said...

Your post reiterates what I wrote about today (Show and tell), but on a different level. I love how you pointed out that Sandusky looks like an "innocent" man and that he did good things in the community. Also about empowering their decisions. We don't want to scare them, but we certainly want them to be cautious.

Anonymous said...

What a great post and what a great way to teach your children!

Mindy @ New Equus - A New Creation

Shell said...

So smart to use this as a lesson. Kids tend to think "bad people" look it. And that's so far from the truth.

Adrienne said...

How wise for you to show her that bad people don't always look bad!

The Mommy Therapy said...

This whole story has made me ill for a while. I think talking to your kids as honestly as possibly without terrifying them is so important. I try to talk to my kids a lot about the bad...and the good.

Do you live in Indy?

Garret said...

Great lesson Liz. Those kids are scarred forever.

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

Good for you for taking advantage of a teachable moment and reminding me that I need to revisit this with my children.