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  • Dayna Sharp, LCSW

#MeToo Society and Parenting

What does the social movement #MeToo, created to support survivors and end sexual abuse have to do with parenting? More than you might think. Sexual trauma can impact all areas of a survivors life...intimate relationships, family relationships, work, friendships...and parenting.


The trauma of sexual abuse can impact all areas of survivors' lives. So why wouldn't it affect our parenting as well?

Whether or not you've experienced sexual trauma, raising children in a #MeToo society can trigger anxiety. No one wants their child to have a negative or traumatic sexual experience, and I don't think most people want their children to hurt anyone else sexually. Whether you're raising a boy, girl, or gender-neutral child, the fears and anxieties about their sexual safety can be real. We do what we can to protect our children--get to know the parents of our children's friends, teach our kids about body safety (read my post on body safety here), but the truth is we can't fully protect our kids. Some of us can sit with this fact. But for those who have experienced sexual trauma that reality might be too much.


Sexual trauma can change the way you see the world, and yourself. You might have a mistrust of people, or a certain group of people, like men. You might expect the worst from life, have trouble finding a sense of security that you and your children will be okay--because after all, you weren't. You might carry a deep sense of shame about yourself and your sexuality, or fear sex because after all, it was used as a weapon against you.


 

And then you have children. There's the birth that can be traumatic for women--sometimes strange doctors and other medical practitioners looking, touching around our vaginas. The pain and discomfort that can be associated with rips and tears that can come along with birth. Breastfeeding might feel like your boundaries are being betrayed all over again.


You might feel uncomfortable changing your child's diapers or bathing them, as if you were violating their body privacy.


And then your toddler start exploring their body. Maybe your child is found touching privates with another child. Maybe your child is upset about the experience, probably because they are worried they will be "in trouble". But the first thing someone with sexual trauma will think is that their child was sexually traumatized--their deepest fear come true.


You might feel triggered by the private parts and sexuality of your own children. Teaching your little ones about body safety and your older ones how to take care of themselves through puberty, or guiding your teens through the world of dating and exploring sexuality can be tremendously triggering for a survivor of sexual trauma.


 

The good news is that with the help of a trusted therapist, it is possible to heal from sexual trauma. The burdens of trauma that can follow survivors through parenting may never entirely go away, but you can learn to recognize them for what they are (memories and residue of a terrifying and shame-laced trauma of the past), see them, and bring yourself back into the present.


It's work that no one should have to do. It's unjust that sexual violence happens, and it's unjust that survivors have to continue living with the impact of the violence. But at the same time, giving yourself the gift of healing is something that you--and your children deserve. You don't have to be a victim of sexual trauma anymore.


Call Creating Space Counseling and Wellness today to get started. 856-281-1664










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