I am an Incest Survivor and I Speak Up. Will You?

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By Marilyn Van Derbur Atler, Author, Miss America by Day

I am an incest survivor. My father began coming into my room at night when I was 5. It didn’t stop until I left for college at age 18. No one knows how to stop a man like my father but we do know how to stem the tide of teenagers inappropriately touching or being sexual with a younger or less powerful child. We do it by talking to them – and talking to the adults in whose care we trust our children.

I asked a 16-year-old girl in Denver how many hours she had to spend being instructed before receiving her driver’s license. 56 hours. 56 hours! How many hours do parents spend talking with their children about what is appropriate and what is not appropriate as they grow into their sexuality?

And how old does a child have to be before we have these conversations? Begin right away and if you haven’t already started, it’s not too late to start today.

When my grandson was six, I heard him rough housing with other children in the playroom. He was laughing saying, “Don’t touch my privates. Don’t touch my privates.” He was laughing when he said it but he knew what it meant. And that may be all he needed to know at age six, but he did need to know this.

Please. Talk to your children – and talk to all of the caregivers with whom you leave your children: teachers, nannies, coaches, youth leaders and family members.

To learn more about Marilyn’s book, visit www.MissAmericaByDay.com

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