It’s been a long time since I was sexually, physically and emotionally abused. But the memories are fresh. In my debut memoir, “The Other Woman”, I opened up about the first time a guy took advantage of me. And although that was the first time, it wasn’t the last. I was molested for several years by another man. Both men were trusted by my family and thought to be good people.
On most days, not even the memories can keep me down. But when I heard about Ariel Castro, the man sentenced for the kidnapping and rape of three women in Ohio, the memories haunted me. Last week, Castro was sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison.
And while justice was served, not even justice can fix what Castro broke.
Much like that, any man or woman who has been violated, no matter how far removed, will have some issues. I am no longer worried about someone harming me. I’m worried about my children.
Castro was well-known in his neighborhood. The young women he kidnapped all knew his daughter. Even as the community searched for the women, Castro was alongside them offering a hand and a condolence.
More than just reminding me of my past, cases like this remind me that we can’t guarantee our children’s safety. So what can we do?
Looking back at my younger life and at the Castro case, here are several things to consider:
• Don’t just teach kids not to talk to strangers. Teach them the facts. Seventy-five percent of abducted children are taken by a family member or an acquaintance, according to KidsHealth.org.
• Discuss all arrangements beforehand. Even if your child knows the person, he or she should not accept a ride from them unless you have already made arrangements for them to do so.
• Define right and wrong by setting boundaries. Children need to know what should be considered inappropriate.
• Assure them. Your child needs to know that they can come to you, talk to you and confide in you. Let your children know you will believe them.
• Finally, be selective. Every friend and family member does not need to babysit your child. The fewer people who are left alone with your children, the better. This includes limiting sleepovers and other overnight events where you won’t be present.
Tunette Powell is a working mom with two children.
You can read her every Tuesday on momaha.com
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MOMAHA BOOK CLUB
1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18
Bookworm Bookstore, 87th and Pacific Streets
Join us for momaha’s monthly book club meeting. The book: “The Other Woman” by Tunette Powell. She’ll be present to discuss what inspired her to write such a personal book.
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