Friday, October 2, 2015

Sleep Overs (Warning: Sexual Abuse, Child Abuse, and Rape Triggers!!!)

A friend and I are talking about this NO SLEEPOVER controversy (Say NO & Say Yes).  A lot of parents are saying that the world is different now.  It's more dangerous.  It's more likely that your children are going to be raped, molested, and murdered.

No, the world is just as dangerous as ever, only now with the advancement of media, the world seems scarier.  It's still the same.  The same dangers lurk.  No different than when we were kids.  Only now the news has it in our faces, shoving it down our throats.  It's called fear-mongering.  

Don't trust anyone.  Everyone's out to get you and your kids.  Stay indoors.  Be overprotective.  Don't live.  Be a sheep.  Don't think for yourself.  

It's a crowd control mechanism.  

As someone who lived with a paranoid man with mental illnesses, who's also controlling and abusive, I grew up with that mindset:  EVERYONE'S OUT TO GET YOU!  EVERYONE'S A RAPIST!  EVERYONE'S A CHILD MOLESTER!  YOU'RE NOT SAFE!   Yet even my dad, for as fucked in the head as he is, didn't keep us trapped in the house, and didn't forbid us from going to sleep overs.  He could've, hell, he could've kept me lock up like Rapunzel.  And I would've been more damaged than I am.

  • He taught us about the dangers of the world, he didn't go into too much detail, unless he was badmouthing my mom.  (I was forced to watch videos of children being molested and sexually abused, with him saying, "See, that's what your mom did to you.  Don't look away.  Watch it."  If I didn't watch it, I was beaten.)
  • We were given a password that a strange adult had to know.  IF they didn't, you ran away and screamed for help.  You reported it to police.
  • We were taught to not trust everyone we met, not even other kids.  
  • To not follow people into their homes or cars.  
  • The parents had to meet before we could go inside of a friend's house, and they needed the parents' phone numbers.  
  • We always had to check in and stay within earshot.  
  • Inside before the street lights came on.
  • If someone hits you, hit them back.  Defend yourself.  
  • Always stand up for yourself (which is funny because in the home my dad was a monster--you stood up, you got beat.  Doesn't really help to stand up for yourself against others.  One of the reasons why I was bullied for so long.  I was taught one thing, but shown something else).
  • Think critically.  Question.  Don't just take someone's word for it.

Even though he said that everyone was out to get us and rape us, he educated us.  Prepared us.  Did what he could to ensure that we wouldn't become victims (again, a little ironic, give the home life).  We were encouraged to go outside and play with our friends, and were allowed to sleep over at their houses, no matter how many kids there were, or their ages!  We had to be respectful and polite.  Listen to the other parents. But don't go anywhere alone with them.  

If someone touches you inappropriately say something.  Say something to your friends.  Call your parents.  Leave.  Call the police.  Say no.  It's not your fault.  They're the bad ones.  You did nothing wrong.  Do not stay silent.  

One of the major fears concerning sleep overs is sex abuse.  Out of all the times that I've been to sleep overs, I've only been molested twice.  One was by a an older female friend and we were at her house alone (her mom had left us alone) and the other was by a male cousin who was around the same age as me, at his house, with his parents home, in a roomful of other cousins.  With her, I didn't say anything, it was a repressed memory that didn't resurface until a few years ago.  But with him, I shut him down, and told a different cousin who wasn't there, and my parents.  It actually prepared me in a fucked up way, when a boyfriend tried to rape in a couple years later.  I fought him off, but due to the problems with the cousin, I kept it to myself until college, when I used my experiences to help other girls on my dorm floor.

Not all stories or statistics are going to be the same, but they often say that most molestation cases are by family.  Not family friends or friends.  Family.  Shit, some people don't even need to leave their house!  Sometimes the abuse goes on and on for years.  And it takes years and years, if at all, for the victim to talk about it.  

You can't protect your children from everything.  You just can't.  It's not healthy for their development.  As a parent, it's your job to educate them.  Teach them about the world, about the potential dangers.  To keep them aware and cautious.  Teach them safety protocol.  How to defend themselves from threats and dangers.  

The world is not worse than ever.  It's the same and it's a cycle.  The world had dangers when I was a kid, I was informed.  The world still has dangers, my children will be informed (only their home life will be healthy, their self esteem intact...but even this doesn't guarantee a safe childhood).  

Welcome to the real world.  

There are times when I'm a helicopter parent due to the PTSD from the miscarriage and from almost losing Warrior at 6 weeks, but even I know the importance of allowing a child to have a childhood.  I'd never forbid my children sleep overs.  I was allowed to sleep over at cousins houses by age 5, and friends houses by age 8.

I was watching the neighbor kids play in the courtyard yesterday and found myself thinking about me playing at their age. The challenges, the fun, the disappointment, betrayal, gross things that I learned and seen, inappropriate things we saw and did, the adventures, the hurt, and everything. At one point, I'm nervous about it. I won't be there to protect my kids from the hurt and the potential dangers, but I understand that it's not healthy for me to be up their ass. They have to live and experience life for themselves. They have to experience childhood. It's an important part of development. They will learn. The best thing for me is to educate them, so they can handle the dangers and be cautious. It's my job to prepare them for life.

Teach them discipline, manners, and rules. Teach them about the world. Not in graphic detail, and certainly not to scar or scare them, but to keep them informed.
My dad was fucked in the head, but he made sure we weren't fools, pushovers, or potential victims. (Unless he was doing the abusing, of course.)
But even with the education, I know that there's always a chance of something happening. My parents--all of them--did their best to protect and inform me, and yet bad things still happened. I learned. I healed. I'm okay. I don't abuse my children. I don't even spank! I'm determined to raise my children in an healthy, happy, and safe home. To not allow my fears, traumas, and worries affect them. To turn those things into positive lessons, instead.
I'll learn from my parents, the good and the bad, and apply it to this generation. Some things I'll teach my kids, other sins I won't when my step dad basically told me to stay quiet about what my cousin did to me, and continued to allow my step brother to play with his cousin. I'm never going to betray my children like that. God's forbid, but if they ever experience sexual abuse, I want them to be strong enough to handle it. To not be afraid to come to us. I will help them heal, instead of just sweeping it under the rug and expecting them to just get over it, like I was taught.

As the parent, it's not healthy to see the world like my dad does. Not everyone one is a suspect. Not everyone is out to hurt you and your family. Yes, be cautious, be smart, and know how to defend yourself, but there are more good people than bad. It's not a healthy mindset to have, to be fearful of everything. Remember, your children are watching and learning from you. Do you want them to be just as scared of the world and of other people? I wouldn't. But not my circus, right? I'll just learn from you and how I don't want to be. I'd rather be prepared and informed, yet still able to experience, live, and enjoy life.

We're all different. We're not going to have the same experiences and perspectives. Someone could've lived my life and ended up fearful of the world, too. But I chose not to be. In the end, it's your child, do what you think you feel is right for them. What you do is your own thing. But allowing a child to go to a sleep over is not child endangerment or abuse.

I just realized, it's like driving. Most people wouldn't even think twice before loading their kids into a car. Strapping them into their carseats or seat belts. Making sure that the child safety locks and windows are locked, or that their child knows to not open the door while the car is on, or play with a toy in the rolled down window. You have the precautions. Everyone's informed. You're a safe driver...and at any moment, you/family could be in a minor or a serious car accident....or die.

Say no to sleepovers, but you might want to say no to driving, too, because the risk of something bad happening to your children is higher than if they went over to someone's home for the night. Something to think about.


This is a good tie-in article too (kinda on and off topic), it talks about helicopter society and the impact it's having on some college students.

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