This post may seem triggering to some, but please read it and pass it forward as someone may find the information to lead to an early rescue for a child!!! Thank You!!
As I’ve shared there are happy memories of my childhood that I like to visit now and again. My dad swinging me in the backyard; playing football with my brother and the other neighborhood boys; catching bumblebees in a jar; watching my dad drag race in that awesome red convertible; my favorite, sleeping snuggled in tight with my grandma that last night I visited with the McKnight family.
These are the moments I reach for when I want to think about the happy times as a child. Like many millions of others, unfortunately these are the ONLY happy childhood memories.
It’s tragic to say that after that cold February night in 1963, just after turning five, the happy memories came to a sudden dead halt. After the first time he touched me, made me gag on his tongue as he kissed me; trapped me on the couch as I waited for Richie’s head to explode when he forced him to stand on his head in the corner, all of it was gone. It simply vanished. The laughter and joy I knew as an innocent child was gone. I didn’t play like a child anymore, although I tried.
This was the moment of death for that little girl, she disappeared, hid away in the dark shadows of corners and the brutal deviant behavior of the “New Dad”, as Mom had introduced him.
When the two of them married just two weeks after that first attack, my smile still showed to the outside world, but inside there was nothing; a hallow shell of a little girl with “Dancing Blue Eyes”. I’ve quoted the title of a poem written by Mary E. Graziano, created along with a fabulous recreation of watercolor art from Michal Madison.
I can remember the changes I felt. The cheerful child was forever gone. Sure, I still tried to act as a child, but I couldn’t find her spirit. No matter how hard I searched the playful little girl was gone. My childhood was lost and he had replaced her spirit with constant anticipation of the next attack.
Hi acts caused me to fear sleeping in my own bed. He made me dread the walk home from school with Richie at my side, which I always treasured. He made me hate going in to take a bath; standing on a chair to do dishes; riding in the car; even if I was outside trying to play there was the constant preoccupation of waiting to hear him call me inside.
‘Don’t get too occupied with trying to play, you will hear him soon.”
My heart and soul wanted to run, play, ride my new bike, wade through the creek and play with the cat tails growing wild on the bank. I wanted to walk home from school and think about dodging the cracks in the sidewalk.
“Step on a crack – break your mother’s back.” I used to always dodge those cracks; carefully making sure not to hurt my dear mother!!!
This new child was playing very differently now. My barbies and ‘Ken” took turns rubbing naked bodies together. The girl I used to play with next door was banned from being around me because her mother caught me playing with the dolls while visiting in their house one day.
I brought the little boy down the street inside our house to play one afternoon when Mom was home and Grandma Moody, Mom’s mom, was over for a visit and getting a home perm in her hair. The little boy and I went into my room, closed the door, I laid on the bed and pulled down my britches. Then I began to show him this “new way of playing”.
I believe we might have been in there for about thirty minutes before Mom yelled out for us to come out of my room. I couldn’t get the button on my britches fastened up so I pulled my shirt down over it and tried to hide it. Mom asked as we walked out of the room, “Why are your pants undone?” I don’t remember what I gave as an answer, but she let me go and sent us out the door.
That wasn’t enough for this new little girl, so I took him in the back of our house where an old mattress had been put out for trash. Right out in the open I went back to teaching this little boy how to “play”. We weren’t out in the country. There was a house in back of ours and on the one side, but I’m guessing no one saw us. It wasn’t long before the little boy got up and went running away, leaving me there with my britches unfastened and wondering why he ran off so fast.
Walter’s constant sexual stimulation of the little girl caused me to continually engage in self stimulation and misguided behavior with my barbies. Instead of dancing around like a princess, chasing a football with my brother, or wading through the creek; I was involved with educating other children on how I was getting touched and how it felt. I was involved with sexual stimulation that I should not have known anything about. It wasn’t long before there weren’t any neighborhood children who were permitted to hang out with me.
This is the type of childhood change that happens when we are forced to engage in early sexual behaviors. We don’t realize how wrong it is and why should I have? There wasn’t anyone who ever told me any different. No one said, “Trecia Ann what are you doing? Where did you learn this kind of stuff?” Maybe it would have made a huge difference in the next twelve years of my life, perhaps changed the outcome of it all.
This is an example of the early silent signs of sexual abuse in our young children. The children who are too young to verbalize what is happening to them.
Our world is full of sexualized media through commercials, internet and even some of the “Disney” movies have these little silent sexual behaviors and signals. One I remember my own children brining to my attention; the word “Sex” appearing in “The Lion King”.
Our children see us hug, kiss, and may even unexpectedly walk into Mom and Dad’s bedroom, but for most purposes our young children do not automatically know these types of sexual behaviors. These acts have to be shown to them; taught to them in some form by some person.
Our young children, ages one to ten, should not know any of these acts or what these acts are like. They should not know what masturbation feels like or seek out ways to get sexual stimulation. They should not act this out with dolls, stuffed animals or engage other children in these behaviors.
If you see your child stimulating themselves or engaging in other such behaviors, BE VERY CONCERNED!!! Someone has exposed your child or taught them about these feelings of stimulation. Children at these early years inadvertently share these acts publicly in some fashion. You will see them acting out these behaviors in some form. Children can’t help it. It is a natural reaction to seek out the pleasurable sensations, and when they are this young they are too innocent to try and hide if from anyone.
When they demonstrate these acts they are giving you the SILENT WARNING OF ABUSE!!! DON’T IGNORE IT!!! First consider your child’s age. Consider what they might have seen in their environment and then ask a few innocent questions such as these below;
“Where did you learn how to do that? Did someone teach you how to play like that? Did you see it on a television show or a movie? Who were you watching the movie with? Did someone else touch you there like that or did they ask you to touch them there?”
These are just a few examples of some questions you can ask without alarming your child with concern. Don’t go into panic, keep the conversation on their level and in an innocent manner. Don’t make them feel as if they are in trouble for acting this way or for doing something such as touching themselves. You don’t want to show concern, because your child will clam up and dodge showing any future behaviors such as this in any form where they can be caught. You will place misguided blame on them, even if you do not intend to do so. A child will automatically absorb blame if they feel you are not happy in some way.
You can provide the much-needed early intervention and rescue your child from future sexual abuse if you simply watch and listen to how your young children play. If you are aware of these early silent warning signs of abuse, then you can better protect your child.
It is the “innocent” play time that can give you the best insight to what they cannot yet verbalize. This is something that all persons who have contact with young children should watch for within families, amongst friends, in neighborhoods, or children you babysit. You can make a big difference in their world if we simply pay attention to what they cannot yet tell us.
(c)Patricia A. McKnight
Advocate/Author/Speaker/Examiner/Talk Radio Host/Survivor
Please be sure to visit the NEW WEBSITE