Confronting Sexual Abuse

Category: Weekly Columns

 Children's fears about sexual abuseRecently at #DadChat, we “took on” sexual abuse as our topic. It was a powerful chat with a powerful co-host in Rachel Thompson, author of Broken Pieces, her very open and personal story about her own painful experience with sexual abuse. Rachel is not bashful or shy about attacking this subject. She is also not afraid to be frank. Consequently, this particular #DadChat hit home for many participants and provided some great takeaways.

Broken Pieces - Sexual Abuse

Rachel will weigh in with her thoughts later. Herewith, some of the more than 1700 tweets from this #DadChat:

@RachelintheOC – What is #SexualAbuse?

@RachelintheOC – Sexual abuse is anything unwanted or inappropriate. Obv for kids it’s unwanted.

@BruceSallan – Is #SexualAbuse more common within a family or by a stranger?

@RachelintheOC – No. It’s usually a family member, neighbor, teacher, church leader.

@elizabethtraub – I agree. RT @lovelylu: Majority of sexual abuse is not committed by strangers.

@LovelyLu – The stats say upward of 80% is a trusted adult.

@RachelintheOC – More common than we think. 1 in 4 girls & 1 in 7 boys under 18 will be sexually abused (DOJ data).

@BruceSallan: Do girls or boys suffer more #SexualAbuse?

@RachelintheOC – More common for girls to be abused, but not uncommon for boys.

@LovelyLu – And that is only what is reported RT @RachelintheOC – 1 in 4 girls & 1 in 7 boys under 18 will be sexually abused (DOJ data).

@BruceSallan – When I was 18 in London, went to a play, and the guy next to me put his hand on my thigh – I didn’t know WHAT TO DO.

@KimWHix – RT @LovelyLu: It is probably higher especially in boys but they are ashamed to report it. #Dadchat<< I would think so too.

@LovelyLu – I’m an abuse awareness instructor and almost everyone has a story like that some touch that made them uncomfortable.

@LovelyLu – We walk a fine line between teaching our kids to be cautious and yet trusting. They need adults in their life they can trust.

@NameWithheld – My step-dad & uncle abused me. This kind of sickness ran in the family. No one ever talked about it.

@KimWHix – I had a patient, young man, who’s mom held him down so her boyfriend could abuse/molest him.

@livinlime @RachelintheOC I am in constant awe of your writing. Snarky and deep…

@RachelintheOC – You never know if someone is a pedophile but your subconscious knows. Trust the signs.

@BruceSallan – @RachelintheOC – Can we be over-protective, like warning our kids NEVER to speak to strangers?

@RachelintheOC – Sure we can, but in today’s society, we have to be. Again, pay attention, don’t deny anything.

@profkrg @pinchel – Child abuse prevention seems so overwhelming. How can you protect them from people you trust? Trust no one?

@RachelintheOC – RT @LovelyLu Have to teach children PAN – anyone touching them should be Public Appropriate Non-sexual.

@Dr_Weberman – For many survivors of abuse, its the neg response of family after “disclosure” that is more traumatic than the actual abuse.

@MarcieMom – I’m keeping eyes n ears open for my tot, she’s so cute n kidnappers rampant. NOTE: Marcie lives in Singapore.

@BruceSallan – Our kids NEED to know the diff between BAD strangers and adults to go to when they need help!

@RachelintheOC – Pedophiles generally worm their way in as friends of the kids, not the parents.

@RachelintheOC – My family tended to minimize what happened. It was this or not that…etc. didn’t take away the shame.

@BruceSallan – If our child is lost – what are they supposed to do? Not ask for help? THAT is the diff bet good and bad strangers.

@RachelintheOC – He had a gun & threatened me each time if I told (that he’d kill my family or baby sister).

@profkrg – I’m just going to go ahead and put this out there. I think there is a special place in hell for people who hurt children.

@profkrg – My kids were taught in daycare that no one should touch you “where your swimsuit goes.”

@RachelintheOC – Don’t blame them! It’s NEVER a child’s fault. And never approach the suspect. Leave that to authorities.

@MarcieMom – I heard the paedophiles flew in after tsunami n pretend to b parents.

@RachelintheOC – As an adult, I still carry that sense of shame. Intellectually, that’s not true but it’s where I go.

@RachelintheOC – As a writer, I go for the jugular. Honest, raw, because it’s hard to live it. It’s harder to write about it.

@SarahsEnergy – Local paper here in Wichita told of child trafficking rings and I’d also heard stories from friends – weird planet we live on.

@BarryBirkett – Weird is too nice a way to put it! PRT @sarahsenergy: … weird planet we live on.

@livinlime – So TRUE! We love #DadChat! RT @brucesallan: @TheBathCafe – #moms are ALWAYS welcome at #DadChat and, frankly, make IT better!

@RachelintheOC – I work with RAINN (Rape, Assault, Incest National Network) and they’re wonderful.

@RachelintheOC – We took my daughter to karate! she’s can kick any guy’s butt 🙂

@BruceSallan – WHERE are the feminists re abuses of women in The Middle East and Africa?

@RachelintheOC – Great book for any parent or older child: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.

@Dr_Weberman – 4 many kids sex abuse feels like love/affection. Its confusing 4 kids. Not about defending self but knowing they can come 2 U after.

@RachelintheOC – If anyone close to you only ever wants to be with the kids & can’t have a conversation w/ adults, that’s a warning sign.

@elizabethtraub – @brucesallan @profkrg @TheBathCafe A true mom’s man.

@aDadsPov – A big THANK YOU to @RachelintheOC – tonight’s co-host at #DadChat – I gotta go – taking my boys out to dinner!

@RachelintheOC – I’m passionate about discussing it & giving a platform to others as well. Lots of stories on my blog.

@profkrg – @RachelintheOC It’s so important. You’re helping victims feel less stigmatized and making parents aware of signs. Thank you!

@RachelintheOC – @elizabethtraub @profkrg #DadChat we are survivors and thrivers!

Well, it’s time to turn this over to Rachel Thompson for further comments, tips, and thoughts. Here is the entire #DadChat transcript from our discussion on Sexual Abuse at #DadChat on June 6, 2013.

I am honored to have had the opportunity to cohost this particular #DadChat. Sexual abuse is such an important and difficult topic. Sadly, many survivors still feel a sense of shame decades after the abuse occurred, which can lead to repression, guilt, depression, addiction, and other destructive behaviors. 

I encourage anyone who needs help to seek it out from an organization like RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) at — they’re wonderfully responsive, or contact a physician or therapist locally for help.

One of the many benefits of having this particular chat is that so many people contacted me privately afterward with their own horrific tales of childhood sexual abuse. Many people need a safe place to discuss it, so I’ve started a ‘secret’ group on Facebook* (meaning nobody will know that you’ve joined except for the members of the group). If anyone reading this is interested, please DM me on Twitter at @RachelintheOC, or friend me on Facebook at

*The group is for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse only. 

Thank you Bruce. It’s been an honor to participate in your fabulous chat!