“…Because he told me if I tell anyone that he would kill my mom,” is all too often the chilling response given by the victims of child molesters when they’re asked why they haven’t come forward for help sooner.
Upon hearing this answer, the people close to the victim(s) are baffled. “I’ve always told her that she could come and talk to me about anything. I even sat her down and explained that if anyone ever touches her that it isn’t OK and that she needs to come and tell me right away! I did all I could. What else could I have done?”
Well, it’s not all you could have done and this is what I suggest we do: Start playing by the same rules as the abuser(s). You need to fight fire with fire.
To be more clear, to “fight fire with fire” means to respond to an attack by using a similar method as one’s attacker. It’s the same approach countries employ to win world wars, so don’t you think it might be good enough to win the war raging inside a young child’s mind?
Let’s start from the beginning: Try and imagine that you’re a young child being molested and your molester is constantly telling you that “if you tell anyone I’m going to kill your mom” but on the other hand your mom is telling you “honey, if anyone is ever touching you I want you to tell me.”
Someone telling you that they’re going to kill your mom trumps everything else inside that child’s mind. There is nothing more important to a child then their mother; not honesty, not comfort, and not even their own safety. This may be because at such age they can’t even really understand what honesty, comfort and safety are.
Trying to use the “you can always talk to me about anything” approach is like the U.S president writing a letter to a town in North Korea and saying, “I just wanted you to know that if you’re ever being abused you can always talk to me about it. I’m here for you!”
I thought about the North Korean example because I recently read a book about two young North Korean men who committed a crime and escaped to China in order to save their lives but more importantly to save their parents’ lives. Both men knew that if they were ever brought to trial and convicted that not only would they be put to death, but their parents would be put to death as well.
So, the men planned their escape and had to keep it all a secret. They left the country without ever telling their parents the truth or saying goodbye. Why didn’t they tell their parents the truth? Because they also knew that giving them any information would further put them at risk of being executed.
They both successfully escaped into China but knew there was still a chance they may be captured and forced to return to North Korea. So, with what little money they had, they bought a razor blade and carried it with them at all times. They both vowed that if they were ever caught they could kill themselves to save their parents.
Do you understand how this example relates to the topic I’m addressing? I hope so.
The point of this article is to bring to light that in today’s world we don’t prepare children to deal with a potential molestation situation in the proper manner. We don’t give children the tools they need to speak up and protect themselves because the molester will always have the upper hand. The approach that’s advocated by countless websites, books, schools, and researchers is, in my opinion, too soft of an approach.
We need to start telling kids that we’re going to kill their moms if they don’t tell us the truth.
It might be the only way to save them.