INCEST - The Family Secret
After much prayer the writer has chosen to remain anonymous in
respect for the other members of her family, and because of the
relationships she is trying to rebuild.
SEXUAL ABUSE WITHIN FAMILY CIRCLES IS ONE OF THE WORST KINDS
OF CRIMES. IF A THIEF BROKE INTO YOUR HOME AND STOLE SOME OF YOUR
POSSESSIONS, YOU WOULD IMMEDIATELY REPORT IT TO THE POLICE. BUT
WHAT IF SOMEONE WAS ABLE TO BREAK INTO YOUR LIFE AND STEAL YOUR
FEELINGS OF SELF WORTH, CRIPPLE YOUR ABILITY TO TRUST OTHERS, AND
BEAT YOU DOWN UNTIL YOU WERE BRUISED WITH FEAR? WHAT IF YOU WERE
A CHILD, AND THAT "SOMEONE" WAS YOUR FATHER OR BROTHER OR
GRANDFATHER OR UNCLE?
I WAS FIVE YEARS OLD THE FIRST TIME I REMEMBER ANYTHING SEXUAL
HAPPENING BETWEEN MY DAD AND ME. THE MOMENT HE TOLD ME, "DON'T
TELL," I KNEW THAT WHAT DADDY WAS DOING WAS WRONG! I CAN'T
REMEMBER HOW OFTEN THESE ENCOUNTERS HAPPENED, BUT I DO REMEMBER
HOW I FEARED AND HATED THEM! THE AWKWARDNESS, THE REPULSION, AND
Incest may be the one secret that holds its victims in the
tightest chains of all. Confusion, guilt, and fear create a
dungeon from which there seems to be no escape. The nightmare of
incest lasted nine years for me, yet even after the physical
abuse ended I was still a prisoner. For years I tried to deny
what happened, hoping I could make it all go away. But like
someone caught in quicksand, the harder I struggled, the deeper I
sank ... until I finally found the One Hand that could pull me
out from my pit of torment.
What Is Incest?
First, I want to clarify what incest is not. When speaking
of sexual abuse, I'm not talking about normal physical affection
between parents and kids. Hand holding, hugs, kisses, and
good-natured fooling around are all essential ingredients in a
loving family. Without healthy affection, parents and children
alike will miss much of the warmth and security that God intends
family members to express to each other. Incest is something
In its strictest definition, incest is sexual intercourse
between people who are too closely related to marry. It also
includes other sexual acts such as fondling, molestation, and
exhibitionism, since these too leave deep and lasting emotional
scars. In my case my father was the offender, but it can often be
another family member. Abuse by stepparents or close family
friends also falls into this category because of the child's
trusting relationship with them.
Sexual abuse happens in families of every social, economic,
and ethnic background - not just among the poor and unreligous.
Many molesters appear to be upstanding members of their community
and church. Sadly, most cases go unreported, so the full extent
of this problem remains hidden.
Of all known sexual abuse, 75% is committed by the
children's own parents. The victims are usually girls between 8
and 12, with 20% under seven.1 There are also many young boys
abused by both men and women. One girl out of four and one boy
out of ten will be sexually assaulted at least once by the age of
18 - and for those trapped in the nightmare of incest, the
average period of abuse is seven years.2 The hurt and long-term
effects are understandably alarming. In recent studies, 70% of
the prison inmates and 90% of the prostitutes interviewed had
been molested as children.3
Physical force or severe threats are rarely needed to take
advantage of children, or keep them from telling. Though
innocent, they feel dirty, ashamed, and "different," sensing the
wrongness of the situation. As a young child, I was too afraid to
tell anyone what was going on. Even at 18, when a very trusted
friend asked me if my father ever abused me, I strongly stated
that he hadn't! I didn't want to embarrass my dad or myself.
Shame and fear work together to keep a strangle-hold on a child's
ability to call out for help. The fear of losing daddy's love,
breaking up the family, or telling and not being believed is
enough to keep most children quiet. Abusers become experts at
manipulating these young emotions: "If you tell, I won't love you
anymore" or "Mommy will leave if she finds out." One woman
shares, "I was trapped. My father threatened to leave if I didn't
do what he asked. He'd left once before and Mom had a breakdown.
I couldn't risk that."4 But there's a deeper reason children
don't tell. Incest is much, much more than the violation of a
child's body. It's the ultimate betrayal of their trust in the
very people who are supposed to be their protectors, comforters,
and closest friends. While they are suffering perhaps the most
severe form of emotional abuse, their loyalty and love for their
abuser make it nearly impossible for them to speak up.
When a child does get up enough courage to tell someone,
many times their parents or friends respond to their claim with
horror, disbelief, judgment, or denial. One woman recalls, "I'm
45 years old. My grandfather molested me until I was 13 and told
me never to tell anyone. I can vividly remember telling my mother
when I was 10 that I didn't want to visit my grandparents anymore
because my grandfather touched me. Mother said, 'Don't be silly.'
Neither she or my grandmother did anything. The guilt I've felt!
How do I keep from hating my family for this?"5
AFFLICTED, BROKEN-HEARTED, AND CAPTIVE...I OPENED MY HEART TO
JESUS ONCE AGAIN, AND AS I GAVE MY LIFE TO HIM, HE STARTED A
WONDERFUL HEALING IN MY HEART.
My Own Story
People may say "Silence is Golden," but not the silence that
was between my dad and me. When anything sexual happened, I began
pretending I was asleep - but we both knew I wasn't. This
"sleeping" made things easier for me. Since I supposedly wasn't
conscious I didn't have to deal with the situation. The next day
was always strange. Silence again. Neither of us acted like
anything unnatural had gone on, but it had! I felt trapped.
Silence was not golden to me! Silence between my dad and me -
silence between me and those who might have helped.
I was about 14 when my dad stopped - but unfortunately,
things didn't stop there for me! The secret visits of the past
haunted me, and my memory became my enemy. Part of me was just a
hurt and confused child, but deep inside there was another part -
a very angry part!
The Rampage of Revenge!
By the time I was 15 I was on a course of self-destruction.
Drugs, bad friends, and thoughts of suicide filled my life. My
dad's abuse left me with some twisted concepts of life in
general, including the false idea that the way to be loved,
approved of, and accepted by men was through my body. I believed
the lie that men only wanted "one thing," and it was my
ammunition as I waged my own private war of suspicion and cruelty
toward all men. The following years were filled with so many
boyfriends that I can't even remember all their names. I'd lure
them in through my dress and actions, then abruptly cut them off.
I was driven by the burning desire to somehow "get even." My life
was a wreck, but I'd just about convinced myself that my dad's
abuse would not effect me. But to the contrary, my past
controlled me for years.
Then, when I was 21 and in the midst of my deepest hurts, my
whole life changed. I believed in Jesus as a young child, but
walked away from Him in rebellion as I grew older. Now I heard
about Jesus again - and how He came to bring Good News to the
afflicted, bind up the brokenhearted, and proclaim freedom to the
captives. Afflicted, broken-hearted, and captive - I surely
qualified! I opened my heart to Jesus once again, and as I gave
my life to Him, He started a wonderful healing in my heart.
It didn't all happen overnight. My healing has been both a crisis
and a process. The crisis was coming to a point of honesty,
admitting my true feelings and looking to God for help in dealing
with them. The process has been unlearning the wicked
lifestyle I had become so good at, and replacing it with right
and godly behavior. A little over seven years have gone by since
I come to that crisis point, and I'm now free from the pain and
hatred that once ruled me. I couldn't have done it without the
grace and the power that became mine through a deep relationship
with Jesus. I now want to share some of the things the Lord took
me through, and perhaps answer some questions you might have, in
hopes that it will help some of you who may be hurting at this
You Are Not Responsible
If you have suffered through sexual abuse your life has been
drastically affected. But however much your experiences may
affect your life - they don't have to ruin it! I am living proof
of that. For me, I first needed to get rid of my wrong ideas
about what happened. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and
the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). So let's start with
the truth: You are not responsible for the wrong choices of
All abuse victims struggle with shame, false guilt, and a
horrible distortion of self worth. One woman who was raped by her
brother said, "Think of the lowest thing in the world, and
whatever that is, I'm lower."6 Many feel they must have somehow
encouraged the abuse. I wrestled with these things myself. I
already felt dirty, because of my father's abuse, and to top it
off, he called me ugly names - making me feel like it was all my
fault! Another girl shares, "I felt like there was something
terribly wrong with me that other children didn't have wrong with
them. I knew this didn't happen to everyone. I wondered what made
me different. I thought there must be something I did to cause my
dad to do this." 7
The fact is, to a child, sexual encounters result in
confusion, guilt, repulsion, and shame. It's definitely not the
sort of thing a child asks for. After a lot of inner battles, I
finally saw the truth: I never would have initiated those
encounters on my own. My father decided to pursue a sexual
relationship with me. It was his desire, not mine! You must
release yourself from any false guilt you may have. I call it
"false" because that's what it is. Put away forever the idea that
you brought all this misery upon yourself. You were a child and
you were a victim. It was not your fault!
But I Did Something Wrong
Maybe you did something you knew was wrong, and that thing
led to your abuse. For example, perhaps Mom told you not to go to
Grandpa's but you went anyway, and Grandpa molested you. Or you
and your cousins were "playing doctor," and the next thing you
knew, your oldest cousin sexually assaulted you. In situations of
this type, it's true you may be responsible for doing something
wrong - but no matter what situation you got yourself into, you
are not to blame for the wrong choices of other people.
Look at it this way: If you left $1,000 on the kitchen table
and a thief took it, you might feel foolish for leaving the money
out, but you didn't cause that person to steal it. The sin was in
his heart, and he saw an opportunity to carry out his heart's
desires. Someone more trustworthy would have put the money in a
safe place until you returned. Your offender's choice to abuse
you was just that - his own wrong choice. Someone more
trustworthy would not have taken advantage of you no matter how
tempting the situation may have been.
Maybe You Enjoyed It
Probably one of the most difficult things to overcome is the
feeling of guilt you have if you ever received any emotional or
physical pleasure from what was going on. One woman states, "What
my father did made me feel dirty, but so did my own response. I
think that caused even more guilt - the fact that there was some
pleasure involved. At times it did make me feel good, up to a
point. It was a progressive relationship, and in the beginning it
was pleasurable. It was attention from my dad. I'm sure all
little girls love attention from their dads, and so did I. That
attention was special. But then as it progressed it was very
frightening and painful, and I felt used and worthless. In the
end it all just worked together to give me that feeling of not
being a whole, normal person." 8
It's vital for you to understand that feeling some enjoyment
does not mean you are abnormal or to blame for the situation. In
fact, it appears that many victims have experienced mixed
feelings. You can't escape the fact that you live in a physical
body designed to respond in certain ways to certain things - and
all children want approval and affirmation from authority
You may have felt some physical or emotional pleasure at
times but this does not mean you consented to be abused. You must
get a hold of this truth: You were just a child! Children can be
sexually curious at times, but no child seeks out abuse.
Where Was God?
Have you ever wondered where God was when you were being
abused? The Bible tells us, "The eyes of the Lord are in every
place, watching the evil and the good" (Proverbs 15:3). The truth
is, it broke God's heart to see you suffer such injustice and
endure such pain! He loves you more than you know, and even while
you were in your mother's womb He wanted you to have a future of
knowing His love. But things don't always work out the way God
would like them to. Why? Because He gave each of us the freedom
to make our own decisions - good and bad.
Put away forever the idea that you brought all this misery
upon yourself. You were a child and you were a victim.
Just as you are not responsible for the wrong choices of
others, neither is God. When God gave us the freedom to choose,
He ran the risk of us using this freedom to destroy ourselves,
and hurt others as well. He never intended for people to be cruel
and wickedor for them to shut Him out of their lives. But He's
had to watch people inflict pain on each other throughout
history. Why doesn't He stop it all? Well, God could at any
moment appear and say, "Enough!" He could wipe out every selfish,
unkind, and hurtful person from the face of the earth. But where
would that leave you and me? Many of us would have dropped like
flies years ago without ever finding the love of God. He loves
everyone equally and doesn't wish judgment on anyone. If we
receive judgment it's because we brought it on ourselves by
refusing to yield to the Lord and accept His grace. His last
choice is judgment, because it's a final decision. God patiently
endures great heartache and gives each of us time in hopes that
we will come to see our great need for Him before it's too late.
Jesus knows what it's like to suffer innocently and
unjustly. He can relate to your pain and He longs to comfort your
sorrow. God's unselfish love for us sent His only Son to earth,
to suffer and die so we could be forgiven and fully restored to a
loving relationship with Him. God's love gave us the grace and
the strength to have victory in every situation no matter how
hurtful or devastating it may be. There's a story of a father
whose son was dying of a terminal illness. At the boy's bedside,
he turned to his minister and said, "I have one question for you,
and if you can answer it I'll be satisfied. Where is God right
now?" The minister thought for a moment, then answered gently, "I
believe God is in the same place He was while watching His own
Son suffer and die on the cross."
Opening the Wound
At this very moment God wants to reach down tenderly into
that little child's heart of yours - a heart that's been crushed
under such a heavy load - and lift your burden. Open your wound
of pain and pour out everything you feel to God. Be totally
honest and share every hurt with Him. Tell God what happened.
Tell Him how it made you feel. He is waiting to heal you and
comfort your soul. He is waiting with open arms ... arms longing
to hold you and love you. Ask His forgiveness for the things in
your own life that you know have been wrong, and let Him cleanse
you and heal you. One of the most wonderful promises we have from
God is that "the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin"
(1 John 1:7). Not only will He forgive and cleanse you from your
own sin, but Jesus will cleanse you and heal you from the hurtful
effects of other people's sin as well. He's there for you right
now, just call out to Him. "Trust in Him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us" (Psalm
Forgive And Live
For years I tried to bury my past, but it was like trying to
hold a beach ball under water. It works, but not for long! The
longer I tried to ignore my abuse and held bitterness in my
heart, the more my life fell apart. Why? Because what I had
buried, I buried alive! Seven years after my abuse I was a mess
and not just because my dad molested me - but also because I
refused to forgive him. I used to think no more dad, no more
problem! But that wasn't true. A large part of my problem was in
my own heart. Unforgiveness keeps us a slave to our past. When we
think we have a right to hold a grudge, what we don't see is that
our grudge is really holding us!
There was no freedom in my life until I realized the
ugliness of my own sin. I found it much easier to forgive others
once I saw how much I needed forgiveness! The night I finally
admitted to myself that I hated my dad, I admitted it to God as
well. I wasn't responsible for the abuse I suffered, but I saw I
was responsible for my own sin - the rebellion, hatred, and
bitterness I allowed to fill my life. I told God I was deeply
sorry for all of it, and He was there for me! If a Holy God was
willing to show me mercy and forgiveness when I didn't deserve
it, how could I withhold forgiveness from my dad? With this
understanding, I decided to forgive. It was a choice. It's true,
my dad didn't deserve forgiveness ... but none of us do.
Forgiveness is a gift. If you want to be healed from the
wrong that's been done to you, you must forgive! Getting your own
slate clear with God is the first step towards getting it clear
with others. The following questions will help you uncover any
hurt or unforgiveness you may be feeling or suppressing. Grab a
pen and paper, and honestly answer the following:
1) Write down the name(s) of the person who abused you and the
things they did that hurt you - sexual or otherwise.
2) What are your honest feelings towards that person?
3) What unloving things have you done to them - in reality and in
4) How are your relationships with people of the same sex as your
offender? How do you feel about that sex, and how have you
5) Have you in any way taken out your hurt on someone else or on
yourself? This would include self-destructive patterns such as
drug or alcohol abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts or attempts,
Pray about your answers to these questions and let God show
you any areas that He wants to change or heal.
Doing The "Impossible!"
Some of you might say, "Forgive the person who hurt me?
Impossible!" Without God it would be, but Jesus said, "with God
all things are possible" (Matt.19:26). When the chains of
unforgiveness were broken in my life, I wrote my dad to tell him.
I asked him to forgive me for my hatred and rebellion. I also
told him that because of Jesus, I totally forgave him. Making
things right with those we've wronged is essential in the
forgiveness process. Whether you do it in person, by phone, or by
letter - it must be done! You may say, "But I was the one
wronged!" Yes, that's true, but if you only focus on what "they"
did, you'll never be free. Forgiving others is the key to your
own freedom. When we refuse to forgive, what we may really be
saying is "I'd rather stay hurt and bitter than be healed!" But
God is there to comfort you and take away your pain if you will
All it takes is the turn of a key to set a prisoner free.
But once they're out, there's an awkward and sometimes difficult
period of re-adjustment. Forgiveness was the key releasing me
from the prison of my past, but I needed to learn some things
before I was really adjusted. Because I spent so many years
walking in bitterness and resentment, my whole outlook towards
men, sex, and relationships needed a total overhaul. I needed to
learn to treat men with respect rather than disgust. I needed to
change my seductive behavior and learn about modesty and purity.
And I needed to start looking to God to discover my true value -
believing in His unwavering love and acceptance.
Piece by piece, the puzzle continues to fall into place, and
by the grace of God I'm now enjoying a happy and productive life,
a fulfilling marriage, and the freedom to tell my story, which is
something I thought I'd never be able to do. Sure, from time to
time the Lord shows me something more that needs to be restored
in this area, but the major breakthrough has taken place. I've
given my past to the Lord, and I'm thankful He's brought me this
far. Now my experiences, instead of just being a hindrance, can
be used to help others who are hurting. The Bible says "if any
person is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed
away; behold, new things have come. " (2 Cor.5:17). Jesus has
made me a new person and given me a new life. I pray that you
will find the same peace in God and forgiveness in your heart as
I have. "'For I will restore you to health, and I will heal you
of your wounds,' declares the Lord... " (Jer.30:17).
1) Parade Magazine, July 29,1984; Children's Hospital National
Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
2) Child Assault Prevention Project, Columbus, OH.
3) King County Rape Crisis Center, Renton, WA.
4) Glamour, November 1981.
5) Ms. Magazine, April 1977.
6) Ladies Home Journal, November 1978.
7) "How Can I Live After Incest?" Kay Arthur, Precept Ministries,
8) Ibid. "Incest: The Family Secret,"
(Copyright: 1985 Last Days Ministries) was reprinted from an
article in The Last Days Magazine. For more information contact
Last Days Ministries, Box 40, Lindale, TX 75771.
Unforgiveness keeps us a slave to our past. When we think we have
a right to hold a grudge, what we don't see is that our grudge is
really holding us!
The above article was taken from "Acts" magazine, October 1996, a
publication of the Churches of God, 7th Day, Meridian, ID. USA
SETTING THE CAPTIVES FREE
The following pages are devoted to giving further help and
instruction to current victims of abuse, for whom there is help;
their abusers, for whom there is hope; and for parents and
responsible, caring citizens everywhere - who must look, listen,
and become involved.
Is Someone Abusing You Right Now?
IF YOU'RE BEING SEXUALLY OR PHYSICALLY ABUSED, YOU MUST DO
SOMETHING ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW! YOU NEED TO TELL SOMEONE
IMMEDIATELY AND KEEP TELLING UNTIL YOU GET THE HELP YOU NEED.
THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO WILL BELIEVE Y0U - AND THEY WILL HELP YOU.
THERE IS A WAY OUT OF THE NIGHTMARE YOU ARE IN! IF YOU DON'T KNOW
WHO TO TURN TO, YOU CAN CALL CHILDHELP, THE NATIONAL CHILD ABUSE
HOTLINE: I-800-422-4453. IT IS FREE TO CALL THEIR NUMBER FROM ANY
PHONE IN THE UNITED STATES. IF YOU CAN'T DIAL BY YOURSELF, JUST
CALL 0 FOR THE TELEPHONE OPERATOR AND ASK HER TO GET THE NUMBER
FOR YOU. YOU CAN CALL DAY OR NIGHT, SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, AND THEY
WILL GET YOU HELP.
For those of you in other countries, call your local Police
Department or Social Service Agency. And again, KEEP TELLING
until you get the help you need!
Hope For The Abuser
Child abuse is a devastating sin, but it's not unforgivable.
If you've abused someone there's an incredible burden of guilt
and shame that weighs heavily on you. Your life has been affected
as well. Your guilt cannot be hidden behind drugs, alcohol, or
lies, and it cannot be erased by just determining to "cope" with
it. Whether it's in the past or something you're still
practicing, you need the deliverance that only God can give you.
You can't just "fix up" your old life, you need a brand new life
from Jesus. You have been a slave to your appetites, but you can
be set free if you are willing to pay the price. Though your
actions have been wrong, there is somewhere you can go to be
There is only one way to deal with this problem. The Bible
says, "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but
he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion"
(Proverbs 28:13). God wants to forgive you and pour out His
compassion on you. He's the only One that can bring true peace
and cleansing to your heart. But you must bring this problem out
into the open. First confess it to God, then to a trusted
Christian counselor. If you are married, you will need to tell
your mate as well, or your relationship will be based on lies.
Then with all your heart, you must follow through with
a decision to turn from your sin, and towards God. "Let the
wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and
let him return to the Lord, and HE WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON HIM
... HE WILL ABUNDANTLY PARDON" (Isaiah 55:7).
God delights in being merciful, and He is calling out to you
right now. He says, "Come to Me, all who are weary and
heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and
learn form Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you shall
find rest for your soul (Matt.11:28-29). Jesus wants to give you
strength to overcome the power of sin in your life. There is
nothing too hard for the Lord. He loves you just as much as He
loves those you have hurt. He knows you are hurt too. You are a
precious child to Him and He longs to cleanse you, heal you, and
fully make you His own. Admit your guilt to the Lord, asking Him
to forgive you, and allow Jesus to be the Lord of your life. For
continued help and support, get involved with your local church
or fellowship, and commit yourself to be accountable to at least
one mature counselor of the same sex to openly share your heart,
your past, and your prayers with on a regular basis. If you're
already attending a church, you need to go to your pastor
immediately and be totally honest.
Parents United is a secular organization that helps parents
who have abused, or fear they will abuse, their
children--physically, emotionally, or sexually. To find the
nearest chapter or group in your area, just call 1-800-422-4453.
How would you want others to respond if your were a child
caught in the snare of sexual abuse? Jesus said, "Whatever you
want others to do for you, do so for them" (Matthew 7:12) If you
know or suspect sexual abuse in your family or anywhere else, you
must do something about it. So many have chosen to "look the
other way" that the government has made a law about it: If you
know of a child abuse situation, you are legally responsible to
report it to the authorities. If you don't report it, you are
breaking the law! "...do not participate in the unfruitful deeds
of darkness, but instead even expose them" (Ephesians 5:11).
Child abuse is rarely an isolated incident, and unless legal
pressure is brought to bear, the abuser may go on for years
abusing generations of children.
If you're not sure where to start, you can call the National
Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453. You don't have to give
your name when you call. They can answer any questions you have,
and assist you in contacting local help.
Signs of Child Abuse
It's easy to ignore signs that "something" might be wrong,
but ignoring things won't change them. We don't want to breed
undue suspicion, but this is a widespread problem and just being
sensitive to things that seem out of place may mean the
difference between a child's freedom or continued abuse.
Each situation is different, but the following things indicate
some problems in general and could be warning signs of sexual
1) Unusual shyness or privacy regarding the body. Not wanting to
undress in front of others at proper times may indicate feelings
of an "unclean body," or an attempt to hide tell-tale physical
2) Sudden, extreme changes in behavior, such as reverting to
bedwetting or thumb-sucking, withdrawal, loss of appetite,
nightmares, running away, failing in school, or a fear of adults,
a particular person or place.
3) Unusual interest or knowledge of sexual matters, or expressing
affection in ways inappropriate for a child that age. If a child
is found instructing other children in sex-related play, he or
she may be reenacting their own real life situation.
4) Torn or stained underclothing. Bleeding, abrasions, or
swelling of the genitals or mouth.
5) Take note if you notice anyone showing affection to a child
that appears sexual in nature, or making remarks about the
child's body that seems out of order in terms of sexual
If you discover an abusive situation, or if a child tells
you they've been abused, it's very important that you offer
loving support and reassurance. First of all, believe what
they say. Children almost never lie about these things. Be
careful about your own reaction because a child can misinterpret
your disgust or dismay as being directed towards them. Tell them
that they didn't do anything wrong, and that you are glad they
told you. Finally, get help for the situation immediately.
Protecting Your Children
The key ingredient for protecting your children is open and
honest communication with them in all areas - not just on the
subject of sexual abuse. It's important your children know they
can come talk to you about anything. Make time each day to find
out how your kids are doing and what they are feeling - and be
sure to really listen.
It's best when children learn about life in a natural,
godly, relaxed way - in terms appropriate for their age. As they
grow we teach them names for their eyes, hands, and feet - but we
may fail to teach them about the "private parts" of their body.
This can create a feeling of wrongness about what God designed to
be beautiful. Your children will learn about sex from someone.
The question is who, and when. If you don't inform children, they
might be easier victims because they can be told "all the kids do
this" and not know any differently. Seek God's wisdom and timing,
but in general, if a child is old enough to ask, he's old enough
to be told in terms he can handle and understand.
Training a child to always obey every adult can be
dangerous. Your child needs to know that if an adult is asking
them to do something they think is wrong or they feel "funny"
about, it's okay to say "no" until they check with you. Also,
forcing your child to hug and kiss "Uncle Charlie" or others when
they don't want to can be damaging. The message is: My
authorities say I'm supposed to submit myself to things that are
distasteful or uncomfortable to me. Children need to sense your
protection. Remember, almost all child abuse is done by people
the children know.
Teach your children that if someone ever says, "Don't tell,"
"Mommy will be mad," or "It's a secret," they should come and
tell you right away. Let them know you'll be glad they told you
... and be sure you are.
One particularly helpful concept is to talk to children
about "good touch," "bad touch," and "confusing touch." You can
simply explain: "Good touches" make you feel good; like hugs from
mommy, petting your dog, or holding hands with daddy. "Bad
touches" make you feel bad; like if a friend hits you, or if you
are kicked at school. "Confusing touches" might start out good,
but then make you feel bad or funny inside; like if you were
sitting on someone's lap and then they started touching you in
places you didn't like. Or if someone asked you to touch them
somewhere that was scary for you.
Talk about these things with your children. Teach them that
they always have the right to say "NO!" - and to come tell you
about it right away. A child needs to know that God made his body
and that it's beautiful. But God gave his body to him, and he
doesn't have to let anyone touch this body in ways that make him
feel funny, afraid, or bad.
"Setting the Captives Free," (Copyright: 1985 Last Days
Ministries) was reprinted from an article in The Last Days
Magazine. For more information contact Last Days Ministries, Box
40, Lindale, TX 75771.
"Protecting Your Children From Sexual Assault" - This kit
includes two excellent, Christian-based workbooks ("Little Ones
Workbook" and "Parents Teaching Guide") to help parents and
children learn how to deal with nsexual abuse. Order from: Little
Ones Books, P.O. Box 1805, Buffalo, NY 14231; (716) 6320500.
"Child Protection Guide" - A publication with a focus on
reforming our laws to enforce punishment for this offense and
providing protection for the abused. For quantity prices, order
from: Dick Key, P.O. Box 5282, Santa Rosa, CA 95402-5282; (707)
"Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Resources" - Catalog of many
different available resources; National Committee for Prevention
of Child Abuse, 332 S. Michigan Ave. #1600, Chicago, IL
60604-4357; (312) 663-3520.
"He Told Me Not to Tell" - Insightful booklet on the sexual abuse
of children with information for anyone concerned. Especially
good for helping parents talk to their children; Order from: King
County Sexual Assault Resource Center, P.O. Box Renton, WA 98055;
Be an intercessor on behalf of these innocent and unsuspecting
children. Pray that these crimes will be revealed, and the
abusers along with the abused released to healing and freedom in
The above article appeared in "ACTS" magazine, October 1996, a
publication of the Churches of God, 7th Day, Meridian, ID. USA.