How to speak about sexual abuse to my child?

Dear globalcounselor,

I was sexually abused as a child and now that I have a daughter I am paranoid and I want to protect her all the time from potential predators. I trust no man, not even my father or brother. Isn’t that  weird? My father and brother are good people but they are men. How do I do this without making my daughter hate men?

paranoid

Dear paranoid,

Sexual Abuse is one of the most difficult topics to discuss or explain to children. In doing so, it is important to distinguish natural healthy curiosity and childhood sex play from exploitative behaviour.  Most early childhood sex play takes place between mixed gender friends of similar age  when both or all are willing participants.  It’s usually light hearted and untainted by fear or shame.  When an older more powerful person forces a child to engage in sexual activity this is not sex play.  It’s sexual abuse.
  To help children distinguish playful sexual exploration from potentially abusive situations, parents can explain the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touches. 
Tips for communicating with your child:
– Teach proper scientific names for all body parts.
– Stay open to questions making sure the child knows you’re willing to listen.
– Take questions seriously and answer in age appropriate detail that the child can understand.
– Be honest
– Take
your time and don’t jump to conclusions.

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