25. Sleepover…

I am pretty determined to see the best in people. I think that I can get a good gauge of people on first impression and usually have an accurate radar when things don’t feel right. Until After. It’s difficult to rely on your gut instinct when you’ve got it so wrong.

As mentioned before, I made a decision not to blame myself for what happened to the girls. I couldn’t change it, and dwelling on it wasn’t going to reverse the outcome, so I consciously chose not to beat myself up over it. If I did, I’d drive myself crazy, and my family couldn’t afford for me to be insane.

What I did have control over from this point forward, was who my kids spent time with and how I prepared them for that time. I made our house the “sleepover house”. I much prefer to have the kids friends stay here, than worrying about them somewhere else. On the odd occasion when we were both away, I would sit in the car before dropping them off at our most trusted friends and go through the rules of touching again- explicitly.

“Who is allowed to touch your vagina?”- Nobody but you.

“What if {Insert Name} says they are allowed?”- Nobody is allowed but you.

“What should you do if you don’t feel safe?”- Tell the other adult in the house.

“What if {Insert Name} says that I told them they could touch your vagina?”- Tell them that your mum would never say that.

“What if another child {Insert Name} wants to look at your vagina?”- Tell them no and tell an adult.

“What if {Insert Name} wants to see you naked?”- Tell them no and tell an adult.

When I first asked these questions, part of me felt guilty about inserting names, but then I got over it. The reality is that paedophiles are so clever with their words and their grooming. A little touch here, normalising behaviour there, clever words here, threatening words there…and they have the upper hand.

Have an uncomfortable conversation with your children, use correct terminology- penis, vagina, breasts. Let them know that no one can touch those parts of their body without their permission and that they can say no and expect that they won’t be touched. If they are touched, they are to tell you, or someone they trust, straight away so that you can sort it out for them.

Some of the grooming words used on my girls were:

“I’m going to do something with you that everyone does, they just don’t talk about it”.

“Everyone does this, it will feel good”.

“If you tell Jen, she’ll be jealous”.

“If you don’t like it, you can tell me to stop”.

“If you tell someone, they’ll think you’re dirty”.

“This is our secret. You can’t tell anyone or we’ll get in trouble”.

“If you tell someone, your dad will think you’re disgusting”.

“If you tell someone, your parents will split up because they will fight about it”.

“If you tell, you won’t get to see Jen anymore”.

It makes your skin crawl just thinking about it. For me, although the girls recounted different types of abuse- though all sexual in nature- it was the similarity in the use of language that made me realise how sick Leon really was.

I distinctly remember driving away from the girls the first time Brad and I went away together for something other than work. We had a friends birthday to attend and we decided to leave the kids with my parents. The guilt!!!

It had been a hard lead up and we were nearly twelve months After. Grace rear view mirrorwas particularly unhappy about being away from us. I had to keep reassuring my parents that it had nothing to do with them and everything to do with what the kids were dealing with. It was really hard on them too.

I felt sick as we drove away. I didn’t want to leave them. I was angry that my parents, and children, were being punished for the sins of another man. When I looked back as we drove off, Grace was holding Ruby and both of them were crying. Kate stood looking numb. Brad and I didn’t speak for at least half an hour. We just couldn’t.

 

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