Mother of a sexually abused child
"I am her body, mind and soul... and her voice will be heard!"
You hear it on the news all the time, over the radio, sometimes reading it in magazines, all over social media. The kind of story you hear or read makes you feel like you don't ever want anything like that to happen to your children. But when it happened to my own child, my heart shattered into millions of pieces. I saw myself as a parent who failed. I did not prepare for this,. No one does.
In the Hmong community, rape, molestation, sexual assault, domestic violence, etc. were kept within the family, and within the community. When I reached out and confronted the perpetrator's family, they immediately shun me and made me feel like it was my fault for leaving my daughter with him. "Their" way of resolving this was paying me money upfront to keep my mouth shut from the law. Even a few family members, beg me to not make any reports. With the lack of help, and feeling alone and betrayed by those around me... I took steps to try and fight for my daughter's rights.
First signs of sexual abuse: Before finding out, Prior first 2 weeks; She was super clingy, she did not want me to leave her alone. Every time I left the house, she cried and begged for me to stay. Not knowing anything, I left her in her own fears. She didn't want to be alone with the babysitter. The maximum time I was gone for was about 1-2 hours long. Every time I walked in from the door, she would say "Mommy, I hate BOB." My girl was only 3 years old. She expressed how much she hated him, she didn't want to be in the same room with him, or riding in the same car.
Listen to her, Believe her: One day while she was expressing about how she hated him, and I finally asked her why. My daughter said she didn't like that he was putting his private part in hers. My jaws dropped, eyes wide open. I took the time to really understand where all this was coming from. I knelt down, eye to eye and calmly asked her what had happened and where. I explained to her that I wasn't going to get upset and I really needed her to be brave and speak up. She knew exactly where it happened, how it was done. I believe her! Because a 3 yr old child does not make these kind of things up. She was so specific and detailed and yes, I believe her. I held her in my chest and cried. She confusingly stared at me and asked why I was crying. She does not understand the kind of hurt I was going through. I felt like I had failed her as her mother.
Seeking for support: In the Hmong community, everyone likes to keep everything a secret, And the lack of support I received devastated me. Bob was a close relative to us, and because of the closeness, my in-laws (now ex-in laws) did not support us pressing charges. But I still continued on realizing that i am my daughter's voice and I will stand up and seek for justice, despite how the Hmong community may look down upon me. After filing a report with the police, and speaking to an investigator,. the case was close because my daughter at the time was scared to speak and no one wanted to support the case. The most important part is that I stood up and I went as far as I can to fight for her.
Bonding: Years has passed, and we both have grown and accepted the past as the past. She is aware of what has happened and we talk about it. Her school does a very good job at teaching them about good touch and bad touch. I believe and feel that it is very important to teach our children at a young age about their bodies, and what is appropriate and unappropriated. Also, being in a environment that is supporting. Teaching her about moral values, self respect and building her self esteem, I believe one day she will make a difference. I will make a difference. She will always be my beautiful baby.
So don't ignore those small little signs, take the time to listen to your child and believe in her/him. Listen to yourself as a parent. I know for me, it took me a while to heal and trust again, Don't be afraid, don't keep your voice in silent. Abusers are those who are closest to us...
"Knowing that she knew that I will always stand up for her was the most important thing that I wanted her to see and know. Because to me it matters that much."