UPDATE: How Good Parents Miss Child Sexual Abuse and 5 Questions to Change That

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Update:  I published this during the summer months (2015).

(Revised 2018)

It spread across quite a few websites and I got a great deal of positive feedback.

However, some parents & caretakers commented indirectly that certain portions of the post were unclear.

I couldn’t let that stand.


The purpose of the post was to inform. If y’all didn’t feel fully informed, then I haven’t done my job.


So, I tweaked the post.  Clarified a few things.

I hope it answers your questions.  If it doesn’t, please contact me.  If you have a question, it is likely that someone else does too.


How do good parents miss child sexual abuse?

It is simple.

By not asking the right questions.

One day my son went to a classmate’s home for a Halloween costume party.  When I picked him up a few hours later I could tell by the ear to ear grin on his face that he had a great time.

As we were about to leave, I was standing at the door with his little friend’s father and grandmother.

Both adults were giving me a great report about my son’s behavior.  I was a relieved parent. Thank goodness.  No issues.

No worries.

I quickly scooted my happy kid in the car and drove home.

But as I drove us home, I felt uneasy.  Something was off.

Then it hit me.

Forgetting that I was on the road driving along with other people, I swerved into the next parking lot.  No signal. And, I absolutely got a well-deserved honk from the driver behind me.

But, this was a critical moment.

Whatever I did or said in this moment, could impact the rest of my family’s life forever.

So, I was distracted. Déjà vu. I had encountered this critical moment before.

Only, I was living in the role of the child then.

 Lesson Origin

Back in the day, when I was a little girl. I was abused by a teen relative, nearly every time my mother left me at a certain grandmother’s house. He was a young, troubled teen himself.  He was old enough to watch me, but unbeknownst to others, he wasn’t well enough.  Whenever we were alone, he took out his own pain, anger, and disappointment on me in some especially cruel ways.

Nearly every instance of cruelty involved sexual abuse.  As he grew older, he grew more curious about sex. Of course, that meant, little Tonya who was in her early elementary school years, was subjected to more hellish acts of cruelty.


My mother was young, smart, and stern.  She was protective of me and my other two siblings. We were left in the care of people she thought that she could trust for brief periods of time while she worked several jobs and attended college. Each time that my mother picked us up from someone she trusted, we were asked questions.  “Did anybody mess with you?”  was standard among them.

But that question was always a more private conversation that we discussed in the car on the way home. Still, there were questions that she asked her

children and our caretakers.  Yes, usually in front of each other.


It was very important to my mother that her children were obedient and well-behaved.  So, her quality assurance questions were standard practice.

“Did you behave?”

“Did you listen?”

“Were you a good girl?”

What mom didn’t know is that the male teen who was living there had already threatened me before she had even arrived.

Sometimes he’d even be standing behind her balling up his fists or giving me mean looks. She couldn’t see this, but I could.  I was terrified.

Asking me those questions, especially in front of a person who was using me for sexual experimentation reinforced in my young mind that I was supposed to do whatever I was told by the person who was watching me while she was gone.

When my mother asked me:

“Did you behave?”

“Did you listen?”

“Were you a good girl?”
I said, “yes”.  Could I really change my answer?  Isn’t that a lie too?

So, I lied.  Wouldn’t I have to explain why I “lied” when she asked me earlier?


It was so confusing. I was terrified. From that time on, I felt as if I was living a nightmare that I could never wake up from. Up until adulthood, I always felt that I had brief moments of happiness in between long stretches of torture.

When parents ask children questions like:

“Did you behave?”

“Did you listen?”

“Were you a good girl?”

……whether they were good in front of children and adults, most children feel pressured to say yes.


5 Important Questions

Back in the parking lot I turned around and looked, actually looked, into my son’s eyes.

I calmed myself down and I started all over again.

I asked the correct questions.

Perhaps you may want to consider asking these questions the next time that your child is in someone else’s care.

Try to remember to make these questions a consistent habit.

It might be helpful to remind your children that they can always add details about what occurred while they were away from you.  The truth is, parents must always question, at the right time, under the right circumstances.   My mistake that day was a common one for parents.

Sometimes as parents, we think that as long as a question, any question, we are on top of things. My mother regrets making that mistake each and every single day.  She is the one who encouraged me to write about our experiences.  It is her hope that our experience will assist other parents doing the very best they can to keep their children safe.

 From our family to yours…..

Important Words

“I will do everything that I can to keep you and me safe.”

“I will not blame you”

“I will believe you”

When it comes to education around child sexual abuse children need what to look for, what is right, & what is wrong.

And, they need to know what to do about it when they see it.

Even younger children can begin with the two-step plan.

Say No and Tell Me if, anyone..

  • Touches you anywhere that is private.
  • Tickles you and says that they “accidentally” touched you somewhere private.
  • Rubs you somewhere private.
  • Makes you feel funny or yucky.
  • Wants to take pictures of you without any clothes on.
  • Wants you to take off your clothes.
  • Asks you to keep a secret about your body.
  • Touches their private parts in front of you.
  • Asks you to touch their private parts.
  • Tickles you but does not stop once you tell them to.

Everyone should have boundaries, especially children.

Empower children to say no if someone hugs them, kisses them, or touches them and they do not want them to.

Children should know that there are boundaries.  Boundaries are there to protect everyone.

Since they have boundaries they always have the right to say no if someone wants to hug, kiss, or touch them when they do not want them to.

And always repeat……..

“You will not get in trouble”

“I will not think that it is your fault”

“I will believe you.”



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Copyright 2016 WE Survive Abuse
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Post Author: Tonya GJ Prince

Posts presented/edited/written by: Tonya GJ Prince. Driven by her life mission to empower, inform, & uplift Survivors; Tonya is also the founder of WESurviveAbuse.com, Braid the Ladder, & SurvivorAffirmations.com. She is a social justice expert with over 24 years experience as a speaker, group facilitator, crisis intervention counselor, writer, advocate & activist. She holds a BS in Organizational Management & Development. Her Tortie rescue cat MiaBelle, is her longtime co-writer. More Info.....www.tonyagjprince.com
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