By: Svava Brooks
As a Darkness to Light instructor and program facilitator, I not only teach others about child sexual abuse prevention, I also practice what I teach. And I’ve had several opportunities.
The most difficult for me was a situation at a family gathering where one of the older men acted inappropriately toward my 13-year-old daughter. As she stood to leave the room following a conversation with this man, he reached over and smacked her on the rear end.
You may think this was a harmless gesture, but the reality is that sexual abuse often begins with “harmless” actions that test children’s physical boundaries. This man had made me uncomfortable in the past with how he would speak about my kids and their development. I was paying attention, and knew how to recognize signs, and trust my instincts.
My daughter’s entire body stiffened and froze, as she looked across the room at me. So, I took action. Standing next to her, I told the man what he had done was inappropriate and not allowed. Then, I hugged my child.
It was an empowering moment for me, doing for her what the adults in my life didn’t do for me when I was a child. Because I was educated and aware, I was able to reinforce my daughter’s boundaries and show her she could count on me to protect her.