Jennifer Hillman: Step in the Middle

By Jennifer Hillman

While watching my daughters play house and pretend to protect their baby dolls, I am reminded of my never-ending role as a mother to protect them.  Unfortunately, that includes protecting them from sexual predators.  As citizens of this nation, we should make it our ultimate goal to end sexual abuse so that our children, grandchildren, and future generations do not have to worry about the next child becoming another statistic.  Just thinking about what has to occur for that to happen, can be overwhelming.  But, we can empower ourselves to believe that WE CAN be bigger than the darkness.  One way to be bigger is to break down what needs to happen in steps…yes, as an intelligent animal, there are times when humans need to take baby steps.

The next couple of blogs will be just that. I want to break down my vision of what must be done to shed some much needed light on this subject, so that the darkness has nowhere to hide. In doing so, I will break it down into baby steps.  My hope is that with these steps, you too can be empowered to join this movement in battling this plague.  The first step that we need to discuss is…we must all dare to step in the middle.

As a speech therapist, when I have to share the news with a mom that her son has a language disorder, I share the story of the file folder.  I can’t take credit for it as I heard it from another professional in a meeting and have used it ever since.  You see, our brains are like a big filing cabinet.  We categorize language with the heading on the file folder tab and throw all of the words that we obtain throughout life in that file folder.  We do this to maximize the space in our brains, so that we are able to hold an abundance of words.  For instance, when I ask a child to give me 12 different names of colors, he should be able to go to the file in his brain that is labeled ‘colors’ and begin to rattle those off without hesitation.  If a child or adult cannot perform this task, they might, indeed, have a language disorder.

Today, I want you to begin a file folder in your brain labeled, Preventing Sexual Abuse.’  When you come across any material that you obtain pertaining to sexual abuse, I want you to throw everything you learn in that file folder.  Unfortunately, statistics say you will need to pull out this file folder in your lifetime.  It’s not a matter of ‘if’ you need to…but, a matter of ‘when.’

Speaking of a matter of ‘when,’ I now want you to turn the file folder on the front side and write the word ‘Denial.’  I want you to circle this dangerous word and cross it out.  I need you to understand that if you are trapped by denial for more than one minute, that you could potentially place your child or other children in harm’s way.  I understand that denial has its place; however, we have to get out of that trap as soon as possible.  If you are in denial right now that you may know someone who is a sexual predator, then you will not hear anything that I have to say.  You must consider that someone in your family or a friend may be a sexual predator, or you are living in denial. Now, turn your folder over and on the backside, write the word ‘Paranoia.’  I want you to circle this dangerous word and cross it out.  I am not here to make you feel paranoid; however, I am here to raise your awareness.  There is a big difference, and I need you to be able to distinguish between the two.

I need you to do one last thing.  I need you to label the inside of your folder (where the information you gather will rest) ‘Instincts.’  Your instincts might be subtle at times, or they might explode from within you.  Regardless of how they make you feel, our children need us adults to drown out the blaring noise of this world, and they need us to listen.  It is mandatory that we start to listen with our eyes…not our ears.  It’s important to understand that sexual predators know how to manipulate the world’s ears with their generous, kind, and flattering words.  Therefore, we must stay attuned to what behaviors we see with our eyes and immediately listen to our instincts.  Our children’s safety depends on us all to…first, step in the middle.

About the contributor…

Jennifer Hillman is a licensed speech-language pathologist, producer of the AWARD-WINNING educational DVD, “The Five B’s,” mother of two and an active advocate and speaker for sexual abuse prevention education in the home, churches and in schools.
For more information on this topic and Jennifer’s AWARD-WINNING educational DVD on empowering children about body safety in order to prevent sexual abuse, go towww.baileybeebelieves.com.

Image source: Asif Akbar

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