My past has not defined me , destroyed me , deterred me , or defeated me it only has given me strength to carry on another day for I’m just a vessel cant you see my sign” God is still working on me .”
HONOR THE CHILDREN-MY STORY
My name is Paulissa Kipp. I am the face of child sexual abuse. I am 46 going on 6. Stuck in an age of innocence and the beginning of a long nightmare. Beginning when I was 6 years old and continuing for the next 10 years, I was the object of my stepfather’s tainted love.
The first incident occurred the day of my brother’s funeral. I was playing my stereo and crying. I welcomed being comforted since the rest of the adults were comforting my mother. My stepfather began fondling me. My grandfather burst into the room and pulled him away from me. Restraining orders were filed but the court ordered visitations with my mother and stepfather. Every visit brought a new occurrence.
Child sexual abuse causes many cracks in the veneer of the soul. I had nightmares, blamed myself for what happened, sought and needed more male attention, and had a difficult time concentrating in school which resulted in my teacher recommending me for counseling. I suffered seizures and migraines.
As I developed, the attention of the males in my family (with the exception of my grandfather) took on a more sexual nature. I was an affectionate child and an easy target for advances of the inappropriate kind. I was told I was beautiful, which is exactly what a gawky, bookish, pimply pubescent girl wants to hear. I didn’t realize that it was inappropriate. More requests to take me places alone began to roll in. Ice cream outings became sexual advances.
I began trying altering my appearance. I developed unhealthy eating habits in the hope that if I gained weight the attention would stop – it didn’t.
I couldn’t relate to the opposite sex – I acted promiscuous but wasn’t. I was a tease, not please. Developing healthy relationships has been difficult. Vulnerability was not a safe place to be. My learned behavior was that a soft place to fall meant being violated. I gave love and took it away. I projected all of my pain onto healthy relationships and made people who loved me and treated me well into villains the same as those who hurt me in the past. It cost me 3 marriages. I was terrified of having children and the thought that they might be subjected to what I was. I put off trying for children until I was 40 and then it was too late. I am now unable to conceive.
Depression has been a near-constant companion for many years. I am mostly medication free, except for those times when life threatens to engulf me.
We tell our children about stranger danger, but place trust in those who show interest in our children. We are proud of our children and it is only natural to want people to like our children. There are red flags, however:
1. An adult is overly affectionate to your child or touches the child in a more intimate fashion than a hug, pat on the head, etc
2. Pulling a child older or bigger than lap holding age onto the lap
3. Unwanted tickling or wrestling
4. An adult makes repeated requests to take your child places alone or to do sleepovers
5. Your child’s behavior change drastically after spending time with a particular adult
6. Urinary tract infections can be a sign of inappropriate activity
7. Bleeding in the genital areas
If any of the symptoms are present, please take your child to a dr for a physical examination and report the abuse to the authorities. Honor the children.
Healing from child sexual abuse is a slow recovery process. It requires a courage that does not come naturally. It often requires counseling and brutal honesty. It requires forgiveness, but not forgetting. It requires not being a bystander. It requires making a stand and saying “Not on my watch, not my child and not your child. As Charlotte Davis Kasl correctly observes, "Whether or not you have children yourself, you are a parent to the next generation. If we can only stop thinking of children as individual property and think of them as the next generation, then we can realize we all have a role to play."
It requires faith, even when you don’t know if the wound will heal. It requires acknowledging that we are all broken in some way. In the words of Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets through."
October is Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness Month. When is child abuse awareness month? April . It is represented by a blue ribbon. Yet child abuse awareness needs to be an everyday occurrence. Speak it, think it, and hold it your hearts. We need a different kind of army. An army of the kind.