Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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June 16, 2013

WHOLE FAMILY: Teach children to recognize inappropriate touching

I am sure I speak of things of which others would not speak. Occasionally I feel the bristle and think, “Oops, I did it again. Was a little too honest there.” It’s possible I lack some couth.

But more likely my boldness comes from two things: One, it’s an occupational hazard of sorts. In my line of work, we think it nothing to speak of human reproduction and its parts — routinely chatting about placentas and baby stools over a cup of coffee.

But more significantly, I think, I speak so freely because I am free. More than a decade ago I took a hard look at myself and my life — called a “searching and fearless moral inventory” — and got a lot of things put in perspective. I’m not riddled with grief, fear, guilt, shame, remorse or resentment anymore, though some days, admittedly, I do have to work to keep it that way.

Hallelujah, by the way, for that stuff was killing me.

The freedom I enjoy means I can talk about this with no shame, only with mild sadness and a hope that it will be helpful to others: When I was a little girl, a man touched me inappropriately. I do not remember vivid details — perhaps by choice I forget — but I do recall a few things.

One, he was a man unfamiliar to me but a “friend” to the friend my parent and I were visiting that day. He appeared trustworthy. Two, I and another young girl were alone with him in a room, but responsible adults, including my parent, were nearby in another room. Three, the man made it seem like a game, like we were “playing.” Four, I felt sick inside, and I knew something was wrong.

When I went into the other room and mentioned the “game” to my parent, that “friend” fled the house and sped away in his car. We did involve the sheriff, if I’m recalling correctly, though I don’t know what ever came of it. I understand that man was sick. He is forgiven, and I am OK.

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