Keeping Children Safe

My Grandpa died this week. It should be a sad time and maybe it would be for most people BUT my Grandpa was a pedophile.

If you’ve known me for awhile or, even crazier, are apart of our family and had no idea – You wouldn’t be the only one. ‘KEEP THE SECRET’ – This is the basic motto for a lot of families that have gone through this. In our family’s case, that motto wasn’t chanted from the roof tops but it became the unspoken policy on how we dealt with it…..or didn’t deal with it!

I’ve always hesitated to show my vulnerability when it comes to my own story but now that I have children, everything is ON the table for me. It’s more important than ever to talk and share! I have to protect them, its not an option and talking about it is the first step.

My neighbour notified me yesterday that at the school park by our house there was a man master-bating in front of kids, can you believe that!! We live in a nice neighbourhood with lots of families and the park is always so busy, how can this be real? Then I coldly laughed to myself and thought, it’s usually the places we feel the safest, as kids, that we are the most vulnerable.

This was the case with my own story. My grandparents helped raise us, their house was a second home for my sister and I. My parents worked crazy hours and depended on their help to look after us. The abuse started happening to me in my early teens, off and on. It wasn’t until I had moved away from home (the minute I graduated) that I found out that I was not the only victim.

Dealing with trauma can be insanely difficult and I’m sure people in my life who knew me well BUT didn’t know my history will probably have a few ‘aha’ moments when they think back. Surprisingly, the trauma directly from my grandpa was only apart of it – A major component was the Secret and everyone that helped keep it. It felt like I was abandoned and unprotected.

Now that I’m a mom, I had to figure out a way to raise my kids….how could I do it without putting them in a bubble? Knowing what could happen to them, it seemed impossible not to! What I know is that knowledge is power, even at 4 years old, they have a partial ability to protect themselves. They know that if someone asks them to take their pants off – they shout NO. If someone asks them to see their penis or vagina (yes, we call their private parts by their proper name, experts say this helps protect them) – they scream NO! It’s at least a start and we will keep TALKING and giving them the tools they need.

Besides our councillor – Jill, Nick and I have read an amazing book that has helped focus our attention on trusting our instincts and facing fears!

It’s called ‘Protecting the Gift’ – Gavin de Becker. de Becker empowers parents to fully trust their own intuition when it comes to their children’s safety. In this indispensable resource, de Becker provides keen insights into the behavior and strategies of predators. He offers practical new steps to enhance children’s safety at every age level: specific questions parents can ask to effectively screen and evaluate babysitters, daycare services, schools, and doctors; a “Test of 12” safety skills children need before being alone in public; warning signs to help parents protect children from sexual abuse; and how to keep teenage girls and boys from unsafe situations with peers and adults. 

Do yourself a favor and READ IT!! It’s So amazing and I feel like it has given me power and a way to manage my anxiety, especially with my kids. It also helps validate that it’s totally okay to listen to your intuition even if it makes others uncomfortable – because it can be all the difference with protecting your kids.

Before kids my attitude was always – ‘why did this have to happen to me?’ BUT now I’m thankful that I went through it and hopefully because I did, my kids will never have to experience such a trauma. If I can use what I went through to help give them the tools they need to trust their instincts and feel completely comfortable talking to me, it was all worth it!!

Hopefully by opening up and exposing the secret, it will have less power over me and maybe now that my grandpa is gone, the nightmares will stop. Thanks so much for reading and PLEASE, read the book! It’s absolutely amazing. Thanks also to all the supportive people in my life, boy are you all wonderful!

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