It seems to me like there is a universal sex abuse talk we have with our toddlers: Don't talk to strangers, don't take candy from strangers, and if someone tries to touch your private parts scream Don't touch me!
I got a talk like that when I was a little girl, I've read it in books, seen it in films, and I gave my little girl a similar version. When Bella started pre-school at 3 years old, for the first few days she would not let the teachers touch her because they were strangers. i felt a little sad that pre-school wasn't starting off perfectly, but I was happy she knew not to let strangers touch her. Last month, she went to the Doctor for shots and as we were holding her down, she screamed "You may NOT touch my body that way!" That's when i started to think: Do our sexual abuse warnings foster guilt in abuse victims?
Many, many, many victims of abuse feel like they are at fault for their attacks. Many, many, many parents tell their kids not to let strangers touch them. This warning is usually followed up with tell a trusted adult if this happens to you but by the time it's happened, the child has already been needlessly shamed and probably won't tell.
Many adult women cannot physically fight off attackers, how the hell would a little girl?
So, how do we talk to our kids about sexual abuse without scaring them, or allowing them to think they have any control if someone truly wants to abuse them? My 4 year old telling a man to NOT touch her body will get her laughedf at, or worse gagged or beaten. Do we grow up with guilt and shame because we think our tiny bodies could have somehow done something?