Child Abuse

I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault Is A Site Every Parent Should See

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i-believe-you-its-not-your-faultI believe you. It’s not your fault. 

The sentiment seems obvious enough, but it’s one that survivors of abuse don’t often hear. There is surviving the experience of abuse or harassment, then there is the debilitating isolation that comes from feeling like you have no one to turn to for help. A few simple words can make a world of difference to someone who has been violated – especially a young person.

I have to think really hard to name a woman I know well who doesn’t have some kind of abuse or sexual harassment in her past. And I know many, many men who have endured abuse as well. I often think about this when I imagine both my children growing up in this world – how do I protect them from the experience of abuse? How do I prepare them to navigate our rampant rape culture? I don’t like to be of the mind that there are sexual predators lurking around every corner, but to not address the very real danger that someone may try to violate a child at some stage of their adolescence is just naive.

A conversation about this came up in an internet writer’s group I’m a part of. One of the members had a story about a child she knew who had been the victim of a sexual assault. The member reached out to the rest of us for advice about what to say to the young girl. Story after story began to emerge from women in the group who had been through something similar. It was shocking really. Then came the realization that if only victims had someone to confide in – or could hear stories of other’s who had been through the same trauma – maybe they wouldn’t feel so alone. The idea of writing letters to a younger sister or brother was born. Lindy West, writer for Jezebel and member of the group, created a Tumblr page and started collecting letters from other members. One-by-one heartbreaking tales of abuse were posted on the page.

I Believe You, It’s Not Your Fault was born.

“Can we use our collective life experience to be a safe haven for kids who need it? Can we tell stories and answer questions and offer solidarity and resources and maybe break some cycles before they begin? Can we do it with humor and transparency, and without coming across like dorky, hand-wringing moms? After all, so many of us are still those kids. So many of us will always be those kids.”

The site has evolved from only exhibiting stories from contributors to offering advice to kids who write in via an “ask us anything” page. It’s a beautiful project that offers solidarity and hope to young victims of harassment and abuse. I wish something like this was around when I was a teenager and honestly did not know that there was anything wrong with the harassment I endured from peers and even trusted teachers.

This site is an amazing resource for parents, teachers and anyone else who cares about reaching out to survivors and helping them feel less alone. So often parents don’t broach the subject of abuse because it is such a tough one – and instead fool themselves into believing something like this could never happen to their children. These stories are eye opening. We cannot afford to look away.

If you have your own story to share you can submit it here.

You can follow the project on Facebook and Twitter.