Mothering After Violence

Mothering After Violence

In my early twenties I was raped by a stranger. One moment I was me, and the next I was changed forever.

I managed to keep going with life, determined to be ‘normal’ and not let it take over, although emotionally I am still healing now.

I fell pregnant, happily, and as much as I loved my growing bump, I did not enjoy the attention that it brought me. I got sick of strangers touching my belly without asking first, and found the examinations by the midwife difficult.

I now have two children, who are still pre-school age, but the fact that they are both girls has already caused me some heartache. I did not feel particularly strongly about wanting boys or girls before they were born, and was delighted to have a baby girl handed to me each time. But my worry comes in knowing what it is like to be female, and being unable to defend yourself against a man.

I know what violence can do to a woman, and I do not want my children to go through anything remotely like that.

No parent wants their child to get hurt, but sometimes I wonder if I feel more anxious about it than others. When I am feeling rational, I know that sexual violence does not just affect girls and that if I had had a boy, he too would have been at risk. But I am not sure I would have worried as much as I do with two girls. When my two are in the bath, I watch their delight at being naked and the confidence that they have in their own skin.  I look at their small, perfect bodies, their tummies rounded and their hands still chubby, and see their vulnerability. I hope that no one ever takes advantage of them or forces them to do something that they don’t want to do.

I have a lot of preferences that other mothers may not have, all of which stem from my desire to protect my girls. I do not like my youngest to have her nappy changed in front of other people, preferring instead to take her to the bathroom or baby changing facilities. I wonder if, when she is older, she might feel that I exposed her to people whilst she was unable to make her own decisions. I prefer my girls to have swimming costumes on at the beach, rather than enjoying the summer topless. I prefer not to let them shower naked at the swimming pool. I would feel wary about taking them on holiday anywhere that two fair, blonde, girls might receive a lot of attention. I find it more difficult to shake off the comments from passers-by about them ‘fighting off the boys when they’re older’.

I have gently started talking to them about their bodies and consent at a very basic level.

I am aware that as they get older, these conversations will become more in depth and may lead to them asking questions that might be difficult for me to answer. I hope that I will be able to navigate their concerns in a neutral manner. I neither want them to be nonchalant nor scared about relationships, intimacy or their own safety. I cannot see myself talking to them specifically about my own experience, although when the time comes perhaps the reality will be different.

Above all, I want them to be happy. I want them to live their childhood and teenage years free of fear and upset (as far as possible) and enter adulthood feeling secure and confident in their own bodies. I want them to be able to make informed choices and know how to consent, or not, to sex. Some days I feel sad that I am already thinking about my small children having sex as teenagers or young adults. No amount of knowledge could have protected me from what I went through, and I know that I was unlucky. But I hope that I can help my children feel confident in protecting themselves and making decisions that are respectful of their own bodies and minds, and those of others.

If you have been affected by the issues in this article and need support, you can contact Rape Crisis, or Victim Support

Anonymummy

Anonymummy is The Motherload®’s anonymous blogging identity; she allows us to tell the stories which are too risky, or too painful to share in our own names. Anonymummy is written by a different author every time. If you have an experience to share via Anonymummy, you can email The Motherload® editor in confidence on [email protected]

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