While we can never guarantee that our children will have the fortitude to escape a bad situation (especially when abusers are often people they know & trust), we can do our best to give them skills and prepare them for the unexpected. Abuse often starts with grooming – building a close relationship and testing of trust/secrecy with gradual introduction of intimacy/sexual interaction.
When potential abusers know that a child has been taught body safety and that their parents are educated on abuse prevention – this is often a red light to stop. Abusers do not want to be caught and are often patient with grooming because they want to feel confident that this child will not say no or tell.
If someone is trying to break one of the rules of body safety, teach your child to say “my mommy/daddy said this is against the rules”. This may be enough to get the person to stop. If it isn’t, let your child know they have the right to get away from this person – practice saying “no”, “stop” and walking or running away.
If your child gets an “icky” feeling from someone, “no” or “I don’t want to do this” may not be the appropriate response – your child’s intuition may be sensing that something uncomfortable is about to happen, and that they want to get away from this person. If they are not comfortable saying “no” and walking away they can create a reason for leaving:
- “I want to play somewhere else.”
- “I have to go to the bathroom.”
- “I need to find my parent/friend/teacher.”
- “I’m hungry.”
- “I feel sick.”
- “I need to find my shoes/favorite toy/etc.”