Preventing Sexual Abuse: Setting Up Your Defense

In my very first post, on how to prevent sexual abuse in kids I said: the best defense is to know your opponent’s offense. Now that I have laid out how an abuser abuses, let’s begin to set up our offense. In highschool basketball, if you played a team that couldn’t shoot well you set up a defense that, of course, forced them to shoot from far out instead of close. If a team had a great player, we set up our defense to force that player to get the ball as little as possible. Let’s review what we know about “the other team.”

First, we know that an abuser tries to connect with a child relationally. In other words, the abuser seeks to find out the relational and emotional needs of the child. He wants to be the one that meets those needs. Second, we know that the more a child is missing connection at home the more vulnerable she is to being targeted by a predator. (On a side note, sexual abuse can happen to a child who is well connected at home, because there are no guarantees that it won’t happen.) Let’s put this knowledge into action as parents. How do we put our child in the best position possible to protect them from sexual abuse? In other words, what’s our defense?

First, we make sure our kids are attached, in plain language, connected to us. What does it mean to be connected to our children? It means that you are a safe place where your child can come to you for anything. You are able to handle their sadness, anger, joy, irritability, and confusion. You are going to help answer their questions or you are going to comfort them in sorrow. You offer understanding when they feel confused. You are free to address difficult topics, like sexuality, without making them feel embarrassed or ashamed. You are not just meeting the needs for food, shelter, activities, and education. You are making sure your heart is a home to their hearts.

Here’s the thing — you can only track and connect with your child emotionally if you are tracking emotional areas in yourself. What if there are certain areas that you, as the adult, don’t like to deal with? What if you don’t like to be angry? What if you don’t like to be sad? What if you don’t like it when you feel weak or unsure? What if teaching them about their body parts makes you uncomfortable? Then how will you be able to connect with your child in that area? If it is a “No Go Zone” for you, then it will be for them too.

So here lies the problem. Your child will still need connection in the areas that are a “No Go” for you. It is in those areas that there is an opening for sexual abuse to occur. The abuser will offer them whatever connection you are not.

The good news is you can help protect your child by examining your heart and emotions and finding those “No Go” areas. So what are your “No Go Zones?”

Start there.

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