Safe father figures can be very effective at helping to prevent the spread the epidemic of child sexual abuse. Here are just five effective tips to help them get started today.
Be aware that children can be victims of manipulation tactics. One common tactic used by child sexual abusers involves pushing away the safe father figures in their lives. Safe father figures may miss this, though. I have come to learn that safe father figures can be more sensitive than we give them credit for.
What safe father figures don’t realize is that all abusers are extremely effective manipulators.
One Survivor that I served, Yolanda* talked about how she told her father that she didn’t want to see him. Yolanda even told her father that she liked spending time with her step-father more because he was nicer and had more money.
Eventually, Yolanda’s father stopped exercising his right to visitation.
What Yolanda’s father never knew was that her step-father was threatening her to say these things.
He would stand over her whenever her father would call to speak with her.
He told her to tell her father that he didn’t want to see her, or else.
Yolanda was terrified of her new step-father.
Abusers have power and influence within their circle.
People around them firmly believe in the image that they present.
- · They believe that Ken is a professional and wouldn’t risk his success for a child.
- · They believe that Roger is a man of faith, goes to worship services, and wouldn’t do this.
- · They believe that Yolanda must be troubled because Marilynn (step-mother) would never touch a child except to hug them.
- · They believe that since Jeremy comes from a “great family” he couldn’t do this.
- · They believe that since that since April is a woman, she would never assault Yolanda. (Wait. Yolanda is a girl. April is a woman. Is that possible they wonder?)
Tell children that they can address the topic with you.
Talking about issues that involve “sex” or “touching” can be uncomfortable for everyone.
We have to understand that we are asking a tremendous amount of children when we talk we expect them to tell us that older children or adults are harming them.
Still, make certain children know that you are a safe person to talk to at all times.
Children don’t often have the language for what abusers/rapists make them do. Children don’t have the language for what is done to them.
For a variety of reasons, it can be especially embarrassing to discuss these issues with men.
Safe father figures must expressly tell children that they can tell children that they come to them and talk about.
Children are very concerned about what will happen. They are very smart to be. A great deal of the trauma that Survivors of abuse struggle with is the aftermath.
Let’s say that a group of campers are having a fun weekend.
Unfortunately, Jake fell and broke his leg. The other campers tried to help Jake. However, when they tried to stop the bleeding they used a filthy shirt. The injury got infected.
Sure, it was a complicated break, but now because of his friend’s response, Jake was now in danger of losing his leg.
So here are some things that we can do to make certain that children know that they come to safe father figures.
Make certain that children know that you will not be so angry that you will do something that you will do things that will cause you to go to jail.
During casual conversation, adults may say, “If anyone ever harms my children, I’m going to jail.”
Children tend to believe this. Even if you don’t think that kids are in earshot, somehow they hear it. Or, because they know you, no one has to tell them.
I have served adult victims of domestic violence who withheld abuse from their fathers for years. “My father would go to jail for assault or murder if I told him what my husband has been doing to me.”
Adult Survivors will tell you that they too can recall being extremely protective of their father figures as children.
So, safe father figures, please make certain that children know that you will not take the law into your own hands.
Tell children that you will not blame them.
Children keep secrets about child sexual abuse because they believe that safe adults will think that is their fault. You can make it easier for them to talk to you by letting them know that if an older child or adult harms them, you will not blame them.
5 Things Safe Father Figures Can Do…
1. Be aware that children can be victims of manipulation tactics.
2. Tell children that they can address the topic with you.
3. Make certain that children know that you will not be so angry that you will do something that you will do things that will cause you to go to jail.
4. Safe father figures, please make certain that children know that you will not take the law into your own hands.
5. Tell children that you will not blame them.