“Mum, what things do you have to do to be a sex offender?” Answering big questions from small children

“Mum, what things do you have to do to be a sex offender?” Answering big questions from small children

It was Saturday afternoon, the kids were in the back of my car when I turned the key and my stereo suddenly came on full blast. 
Kanye West sang out:

“She found pictures in my emails. I sent this bitch a picture of my dick. I don’t know what it is with females. But I’m not too good at that shit.”

I turned it off. I made a decision to never use misogynistic language ever again when I was in my early 20s so I cringe when I hear the word ‘bitch’. Not only that, but he was singing about sending dick pics to a woman. 

My six year old son asked, “Mum, is Kanye West a sex offender?” 

I pulled the handbrake back up, took my seatbelt off and turned around to my sons, six and eight years old (although my eight year old would want me to be crystal clear about the fact that he is, in fact, nine next month). 

“What makes you ask that?” I asked, genuinely intrigued by his use of language and his ability to identify Kanye’s voice seeing as I refuse to listen to any of his music after College Dropout. 

My six year old explained, “He sent a girl a picture of his dick. So, I’ve heard you saying before that people who send pictures of their private parts to women are sex offenders.” 

I am a firm believer in frank, open, honest conversations with children when they ask a question or require information. Not only that, but my sons both know that their Mummy is a national specialist in the psychology of sexual violence. In fact, my eight year old recently made a little poster which said “I love my mum because she does amazing speeches about a lot of stuff!” They know what I do and they were both taught about sex, relationships, abuse, puberty and bodies when they were around five. Because it was never made a taboo, they ask whatever they want, when they need to. We don’t have any ‘off-limits’ topics; and over the years they have taught me that young children comprehend far more than we ever give them credit for. I’ve taught my kids and primary school children about everything from nuclear weapons to porn to atheism and I’ve never had a problem. Children are extremely sophisticated learners and as long as our language is age appropriate, they won’t struggle with any concepts, no matter how complicated you think they are. This conversation was one of many and I replied the way I always do; calmly and openly. 

“Oh right, okay. Good question. Well, that would depend on whether she asked him to send her a picture of his penis, or whether he asked her permission, and how old she is,” I explained. I need to protect my sons from growing into men who do this stuff but I simultaneously need to ensure that the concepts of consent and pleasure are interwoven into my answers. The last thing I want is to create a taboo around sex being negative just because in my job, it is. However, my kids have ears everywhere and my eight year old instantly gave an example from a few months back.

“You’ve had men send you stuff before and it made you really angry. Were they sex offenders?” He asked. 

“Technically, they are a sex offender; although they probably don’t feel they are one. They broke the law and committed a sexual offence; they chose to take a picture of their private parts and send it to someone they didn’t know, without permission.” I explained further. 

My six year old then interjected, “Mum, what things do you have to do to be a sex offender?” I smirked at how this question from an innocent child sounded like the equivalent of ‘What things do you have to do to become a vet?’ No matter how strange our conversations might seem to others, I would never change them.

“A sex offender is someone who uses sex or sexual acts, touching, pictures, videos or words for violence. So, if a person forces someone to have sex with them, touch their body, look at their body or show them something sexual – they are a sex offender. They could use sex to scare someone, control them, threaten them, make them do stuff they don’t want to do or to hurt them. Sex should be fun and feel good for both people involved and they should both be old enough to have sex. Sex offenders use sex as a weapon to hurt others.”

My eight year old son pondered. “So, if one day, I took a picture of my balls and sent it to a girl, I’d be a sex offender?” 

My six year old burst out laughing, “Haha! You said balls!” 

“Shush you, I’m asking Mum. You said dick and I didn’t laugh!” 

I let them calm down for a few seconds and then answered his new question.

“If you were a child when you did it, I and hopefully other people would tell you it was wrong but would help you and the other child – you can get into a lot of trouble for doing that before you are 18. If you were a grown up and you sent it to another grown up you were in a relationship with and you liked taking pictures with each other then that would be totally your private business. Lots of grown ups like doing that. But if you were a grown up and you sent pictures to another grown up without their permission, or did anything else to them without their permission, then that would be a sexual offence and the other person would be very upset.”

“But there are some sex offenders that do stuff to kids aren’t there?” My six year old asked me.

“Yes. So if a grown up sends a picture of their breasts or penis or testicles or bottom to a child, they are a sex offender. If a grown up ever asked to look at your bodies or touch you – or asked you to look at them or touch them, they are definitely a sex offender. If a grown up asks you to meet them or talk to them, lie about them or keep anything a secret, you can tell us straightaway.” I explained to both of my boys.

My eight year old looked at me and said, “That conversation was a bit awkward but it’s okay cos it was with you.” 

“It’s okay, some of this stuff can be awkward but your brother asked a question about the song lyrics and then you got to ask some questions and now we are all done. That’s all there is to it. If you don’t ask, you never know. Come on, seat-belts on, let’s go.” 

Why have I sat down to write this story? You might wonder.




I have some tips and advice for the parents reading my blog, who may read this and think ‘Why would you tell your kids that!?’ 

1. Your kids are growing up in the most sexualised society there has ever been – even more sexualised than when kids were actually being married off and used as sex slaves in British history. Your kids are surrounded by music videos filled with semi naked women, people dry humping each other, Justin Bieber singing about make-up sex, little mix singing about faking orgasms, clothing with sexual slogans on, baby romper suits that say ‘TITS MAN’, padded bras for 7 year old girls, Disney channels filled with series for children about dating and cheating, advertisements encouraging gender role stereotypes, kids magazines with tutorials on having anal sex and over 28% of 11 year olds are watching porn. 

2. You cannot ignore the environment your kids are growing up in. You must learn to be their source of real information and honesty in a world that is selling them bullshit. Be the person they look up to and think ‘I’m gonna ask Mum/Dad/Carer later, they’ll know the answer!” 

3. When your kids ask a question about their body, sex, relationships or abuse – give them an honest and appropriate answer. You know your kid best, if they can handle quite a comprehensive answer, go for it. If they are very young or have a disability, you may need to amend your answer for now, but as long as it is correct and honest; you’re doing just fine.

4. When they ask you a question, you might feel shocked, scared, embarrassed or nervous. Try your very best to remain calm and talk to them like you are talking to them about what they are having for dinner. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, adults are the creators of taboo. Kids don’t know what taboo is until you impose it. If you react with embarrassment, they’ll learn embarrassment. If you react with shock, they will learn that asking you something about their bodies is bad or shocking. 

5. If you don’t educate your kids, porn will. If you have daughters, it is imperative that you do not allow porn to educate them about the sex they will have. If you have sons, it is imperative that you do not allow porn to educate them about the sex they will have. See what I did there? Men and women are harmed by porn. We have kids as young as 13 copying BDSM and anal from porn and we have some of the highest rates of porn-related erectile dysfunction in teenage boys we have ever seen; argued to be due to boys being so visually stimulated by perfect porn bodies and extreme porn sex that when they have real sex, they cannot get aroused. A forensic psych colleague told me last week that her GP friend is seeing around 7 teenage girls a month for fisting injuries. You read that right. Teenagers, some under the age of consent, are copying fisting from porn and causing internal injuries to girls. 

6. When your kids are trying to ask you something about sex or relationships, don’t interrupt to correct them. You will notice that I didn’t immediately correct my six year old on his use of the word ‘dick’ when I prefer them to say penis. He was using the language in the song to ask me his question and it would be unhelpful if I was to cut him off at that point to tell him off for swearing or corrected his language. Allow them the space to express themselves in the language they have and teach them alternatives later on in the conversation. 

7. It’s very important to teach your children the right names for their anatomy (vagina, vulva, penis, testicles, nipples, breasts, anus among others) because there are so many sexist and offensive slurs mixed in with meaningless infantile terms for their genitals that it’s a wonder kids ever figure out what they have or how to talk about their bodies when they need help (fairy, flower, tuppence, penny, minge, pussy, cunt, cock, dick, snake, winky, rack, tits – and much worse depending on where they are getting stuff from). 

8. Sexual abuse is extremely common. Some estimates of the proportion of people who will be abused in childhood sit at around 1 in 3 females and 1 in 8 males. When the CSEW (our national crime survey) is conducted, around 1 in 5 adults report that they were sexually abused in childhood. That’s millions of our population. That could mean up to 13 million people in the U.K. have been or will be sexually abused. In your kids’ class, that’s around 6 of them. Whilst it is a fallacy to argue that teaching your kids about abuse and sex will make them immune from abuse or sex offenders, more knowledge will give them more knowledge. Some research suggests that children with more knowledge can disclose earlier or easier because they have the language to do so – but this is currently in need of much further research.

9. Sexual abuse is extremely common. With those statistics up in number 8, you might well have thought ‘but that would mean millions of sex offenders’ – and you would be right. The majority of all sex offences are committed by someone the person knew – in their family or close support network. By that logic, we have millions of sex offenders in our population. Talking to children about sex, abuse, power, control, pleasure, offending, harm, relationships and so on may one day play a part in influencing our next generations to understand sexual offending so much more that they change their own society. Some of our kids will grow up to be sex offenders, some will become police, some will become lawyers, some will become counsellors, some will become teachers, some will become jurors, some will become social workers and some will become victims. If parents all over the world started the process of deconstructing taboo, myths and stereotypes about sex and relationships and started challenging harmful messages coming from porn, media and music – we could make a huge difference to future generations and future societies. 

10. Try not to be scared about the prospect of teaching your kids about sex, abuse, relationships, porn, bodies, puberty or indeed any other social issues – there is no evidence that children go out and ‘do’ whatever you explained to them. The countries with the highest and most comprehensive levels of sex education have the lowest levels of teen pregnancy, STDs and have higher average ages of first sexual experiences. 
Give your kids the gift you were never given: honest, frank, open communication about sex. 




Written by Jessica Eaton 

Jessica@victimfocus.org.uk

Www.victimfocus.org.uk

Tweet @JessicaE13Eaton 

What do you know?

What do you know?

What do you know?

I had a realisation today that no matter what stage of my life or career I have been at, I have always been asked

“What do you know?”

I have thought about all the times I have been asked this question by someone attempting to discredit or belittle my views, skills or knowledge and laughed to myself at the prospect that maybe, there will never be a day when people stop asking me this.

Let’s start from the beginning:

 

“What do you know? You’re only young!”

I often say when I am public speaking, that British culture does a very strange thing to young people. It constantly rushes them to grow up, take responsibility, be more mature, become independent, make their own decisions and make their own way in life – whilst simultaneously belittling them for being immature, too young to understand, poor decision makers, born yesterday and not old enough to do any of the things we pressure them to do.

I was very young when I started my career, in a lot of people’s eyes, I still am. Maybe that’s why I’ve come up against so much criticism whenever I have something to say – because I’m old enough to say it but not old enough to be taken seriously. I am 27 soon and have been in this field since I was 19 years old. Not a month has gone by where someone hasn’t commented on my age.

I was 21 years old when I managed 2 crown courts and 5 magistrates courts and I was forever being challenged as ‘too young’ to manage the CJS, ‘too young’ to manage a large team, ‘too young’ to do my job well, ‘too young’ to teach others how to ensure vulnerable and intimidated witnesses were protected and empowered. I thought that as I got older, it would get less and less, but it hasn’t stopped yet.

It’s also worth mentioning that throughout my years as a trainer, I was forever being asked ‘What do you know? You’re only young!’ too.

A delegate once put their hand up whilst I was teaching about harmful sexual behaviours and the theories of development in children; and said “Excuse me, how old are you?”

For what felt like the thousandth time, I told them my age was irrelevant, laughed it off and carried on teaching for the day. I remember thinking ‘One day, when I am older, these dumb questions will stop…’

I have also watched people silently work out my age when I speak about my children. Looking at me, considering the age of my kids, counting backwards and then saying

“But you can’t be over 25? How have you got a 9 year old? How have you been in this field for as long as you say you have? That’s impossible…” Stranger things have happened, carry on with your group activity.

Maybe when I’m 30 or 40 or 50 I’ll be old enough to do my job? When will I be old enough to have the knowledge and skills I already possess?

But because I am young, what do I know?

 

“What do you know? You didn’t even finish school.”

Like lots of young people, I was not in a position to finish school. I wish I was, because I was as academic as I am now and I found education easy – it was much easier than life. I did rock up for my GCSEs a year after leaving school, wearing jeans and a t-shirt, having worked 40 hour weeks at 16 years old for a dodgy hotel chain and revised on my breaks and I still came out with 12 B grades – I remember being so pissed off that I didn’t get a single A grade but seeing as I hadn’t attended school in months; I now see it as some form of wizardry.

I remember trying to apply for jobs as a teenage, single mother. I knew my limits. I knew I would never be offered any of the dream jobs I wanted because I didn’t do any A-levels or go to university. My academic abilities were not matched with qualifications or training. Every time I had an idea or tried to express a view on something in my jobs as an accounts administrator or a waitress, I was asked “What do you know?”

But because I never finished high school, what did I know?

 

“What do you know? You’re just a practitioner!”

I’d worked so hard to become a practitioner in the criminal justice system and in sexual abuse counselling services. I was doing a degree part time around my full time jobs and my toddlers. I was so proud of myself. I had made it. I was trained up and I was studying psychology. I was doing a good job. 

There is something frustrating about the field of social care and support in which leaders constantly harp on about how the service couldn’t run without the time and skills of the frontline practitioners, but woe betide you if you, a measly frontline practitioner, point out failings, problems or issues in the service or in other professional practice. Don’t you even dare suggest improvements or present evidence to the contrary. I remember questioning safeguarding cover-ups, lies about clients, the framing of counsellors for failings of management, poor practice with victims and witnesses of child abuse trials in my courts and I was often knocked back down to my station, “What do you know? You’re just a practitioner…”

I remember thinking “One day, when I have my degree and I have much more experience, no one will ask me that question…”

The other angle to this one is the ache I used to feel when a client would say “What do you know? You’re just a professional. You’ve never been where I’ve been.” I am a firm believer in non-disclosure to clients and I have never crossed that boundary where I have told a person experiencing trauma that I also have a long history of cumulative trauma. There were many times when I wished they knew that I was not the empty, soulless, jobsworth frontline practitioner they probably thought I was. I wish they knew I wasn’t like their perception of ‘all the rest’ and that I was going to fight for them all the way through the CJS and their recovery from abuse.
But because I was just a practitioner, what did I know?

 

“What do you know? You’re just a trainer!”

As my career developed, I realised that the only way to change the things I saw and to improve the experiences of thousands of victims of sexual violence – was to leave the field as a practitioner and to write and teach practitioners how to be better. But all of a sudden, the perception of me changed. I was no longer getting asked ‘What do you know? You are just a practitioner!’ – I was being asked ‘What do you know? You’re just the trainer!’ I designed, wrote, tested and taught training materials in sexual violence for 4 years and an assumption developed that I had never worked with real people, that I was a stereotypical trainer who teaches on a wide range of issues with shallow knowledge

I have had numerous incidents of people saying:

“Not being funny love but we actually do this job, working in sexual violence, day in day out. You are just a trainer, what do you know? What could you possibly teach us?”

I remember thinking “I am not about to launch into my years of frontline work… how do I answer this challenge? Maybe I’ll have to add an introduction about my career…”

That’s when I started doing a quick 2 minute introduction to my career history whenever I trained people – in an often unsuccessful attempt to convince them that I had years of previous and ongoing experience in the field of support and psychology. It’s also the reason I have a page on my website with a timeline of my achievements and awards.

I have a track record of excellent delivery and training all over the UK, with thousands of people following my work, hundreds of emails a day – so I must have taught them something.

But because I was just a trainer, what did I know?

 

“What do you know? You’re just an academic.”

Here I am, 10 years since the GCSE results, coming to the end of my PhD Forensic Psychology and widely regarded as a specialist in my topic areas. I have finally got to the level of knowledge that I thought would stop the dumb questions, asked only to attempt to silence me or belittle me – and yet I am now getting a new question. ‘What do you know? You’re just an academic.”

In fact, only a few weeks ago, I was told I was ‘too academic for the field of CSE…’ because someone didn’t like my critical thinking skills very much.

Too academic? What does that even mean? 

I was delivering an invited keynote speech this month at a very large conference and I was discussing the most pivotal issues facing the field of CSE and the lack of evidence for much of the practice. At the end, there was a Q&A. A woman made a comment:

“With all due respect, you don’t even work in this field. You’re just an academic. What do you know? You don’t know what our practice is like, you don’t know how to work with young people.”

But because I am now an academic, what do I know?

 

Hmm…

I’ve been a young person. That’s not enough.

I’ve been a person in difficult circumstances. That’s not enough.

I’ve been a service user. That’s not enough.

I’ve been a practitioner. That’s not enough.

I’ve been a manager. That’s not enough.

I’ve been a trainer. That’s not enough.

I’ve been an academic. That’s not enough.

What do I know?

 

What I do know

I know how to write excellent materials in the field with a considered and sophisticated evidence base taken from peer reviewed studies

I know how to design, set up and run a large mental health service from scratch

I know how to perform ethical, impactful and focussed research and how to interpret findings

I know how to write tenders and win large bids my charity, The Eaton Foundation (£500,000 in the last 4 years)

I know how to secure, renovate and build a mental health centre from a derelict building

I know how to develop, validate and test psychometric measures in forensic psychology

I know how to write accredited, national training for tens of thousands of professionals

I know how to teach children about social issues

I know how to support people experiencing trauma

I know how the police and CJS works from front to back in sexual and domestic offences

I know how to inspire teams to be the best in the country

I know how to public speak to large crowds

I know how to advocate for victims and survivors of sexual violence and to ensure services put them first

I know how to hold my ground when I know I am right and I know when to learn from people who know much more than me

I know how to support people through the most distressing and life changing traumas

I know how to perform complex statistical and factor analysis on huge datasets in psychology

I know how to evaluate service delivery and outcomes for real people

I know how to challenge poor practice, whistle blow and know to never put myself before a client

I know how to talk people down from suicide attempts and self injuring

I know how to support someone in escaping a relationship where their life is in immediate danger

I know how to talk stakeholders, government and funders from all over the world

I know how to influence people, services and huge systems to be the best they can be

I know how to explain very difficult concepts to a wide range of people, including very young children

I know how to write charity constitutions, policies and legal documents

I know how to negotiate large contracts for property, tenders and services in the charitable sector

I know how to teach at every level from primary school to doctoral programmes

I know how to take a calculated risk in my practice to get the best outcome for a client

I know how to teach children how to public speak and teach others

I know how to use my incessantly critical, quick thinking to assess evidence and challenge bias

I know how to write about, speak about and perform excellent research in forensic psychology

 

What do I know?

I know my quality of work speaks for itself.

I know my thoughts and views are shaping the field.

I know my squishy little brain will make a massive impact in my lifetime.

 

And one last thing:

This is an inherently female issue. Males are not questioned the way young, successful women are. Research tells us that men are more likely to be successful at job interviews for jobs they are not even qualified for just because men are always seen as more competent and more authoritative than women in the workplace (which unsurprisingly, has links to the pay gap).

 

If you’re reading this as a female professional or academic and thinking ‘OH MY GOSH, THIS IS ME!’ then get in touch with me for a rant and a chat – and maybe some cake if you’re nearby. Remember that you are awesome.

 

And when people ask you

‘What do you know?’

Look them in the eye, keep a straight face and say

“Nothing really. I just make it up as I go along, mate.”

 

 

www.victimfocus.org.uk – My work in forensic psychology and sexual violence

www.theeatonfoundation.org.uk – My work in male mental health and wellbeing

@Jessicae13Eaton       jessica@victimfocus.org.uk

Please, stop using all CSE resources. Here’s why… 

Please, stop using all CSE resources. Here’s why… 

Sometimes, when you have been saying something important for a long time, you yearn for validation. However, as I recently found out; sometimes that validation is much harder to hear than I thought it would be. 

I have been warning professionals for years to stop using CSE resources with children who have experienced CSE for a number of obvious reasons which include inducing panic attacks and feelings of fear, retraumatising the child and teaching the child that they are to blame for what happened to them by using the resources to ‘teach them to do something differently in the future’. 

Before I tell you where and how I got my validation, let me explain my core arguments against the use of CSE resources with children.


1. It’s not okay to show children films of children being raped
 

I know right? Shocker. Come on people, think about this logically and ethically. We sit around tables moaning that young people are watching Geordie Shore and brain-numbing, hypersexualised (and often violent) bollocks like that because of the ‘impact on the young person’ but we can’t see the hypocrisy in repeatedly showing them films of young people being groomed, intoxicated, raped and blackmailed? Where is your moral outrage then? 

It is absolutely inappropriate to sit a child down who is being groomed or being sexually abused and make them watch films and resources in which other children are harmed in some half-arsed, non-valid and untested attempt to teach them about abuse or, god forbid, their ‘risk-taking behaviours’… 

We have absolutely no evidence that this approach works and yet all over the UK, local authorities, LSCBs and education providers are commissioning teams and individuals to show films like Kayleigh’s Love Story, My Dangerous Loverboy, Sick Party, Exploited, Exposed, Think You Know (all of which I publicly opposed) to thousands of children, packed into assembly and sports halls hundreds at a time. No thought is given to the impact of showing harrowing materials to hundreds of children in large groups – and you know why? Because professionals are becoming obsessed with ‘shock-tactic’ education. I have heard professionals triumphantly announce that the children were shocked into silence and maybe now they will understand how their behaviours will lead to being abused. 

Statistically, around 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 20 boys out of those kids have been or will be sexually abused in childhood. Professionals have shown them a film of a girl being raped in all different positions in a grubby locked shed or a girl getting her head smashed in with a brick after being groomed online and then they send them back to maths. Am I the only one who feels that this is abusive?


2. These resources are pretty much guaranteed to retraumatise victims
 

So, aside from the swathes of kids in assembly halls and classrooms being forced to watch these highly stereotypical and often inaccurate resources, there are individual children who have been recently raped, trafficked and seriously harmed; being prescribed six sessions of these resources with a misguided professional who thinks that it will make the child see the dangers and change their behaviours. 

Most professionals have a basic understanding of trauma – the impact of and response to stressful and harmful events on a human. They understand that the things that were done to that child over a period of time will have a large impact on their life in a number of domains including physical and psychological health, social experience, economic role and mobility and interpersonal relationships. Most professionals also argue that children should not watch materials that contain extreme violence or sexually graphic content because it is inappropriate for them. 

So if we add all of these things together:

Traumatised child 

+

Large impact on their life 

+

Extreme violence in films 

+

Sexually graphic materials 

Then you generally get a CSE resource.

How is it that when the child has been harmed and abused, we would ignore all of the guidance, theories and boundaries in place to keep children safe from harm and do the exact opposite? Why would we choose this moment in time to show a child a film containing such traumatising scenes? 
Why would we deliberately collect DVDs and resources filled with trauma triggers, scenes of abuse and rape, scripts containing manipulative and threatening adults and then show them to highly traumatised children? 

Would you show a load of footage of earthquakes to a child who survived a serious natural disaster? 

Would you sit a child down and get them to watch DVDs of graphic car accidents after they were involved in a car accident?

Would you force a child to watch footage of domestic violence after being admitted to a refuge with Mum because she was battered by Dad last week in front of the kids?

None of this makes any sense at all. And it may leave you wondering what the rationale is…


3. The undertone to these resources is to teach the children to change their behaviours so it won’t happen to them again 

This is easily my biggest issue with these resources. They are actively marketed and described as being ‘preventative’ and used to ‘increase awareness’ or ‘reduce risk taking behaviours’ or ‘inform children of risks’. The plenary questions used in these resources tend to be along the lines of:

“What could the young person have done differently at that point?”

“If this was your friend, what would you tell them?”

“When should they have told an adult?”

“Why shouldn’t they have talked to a stranger online?”

“Why shouldn’t they have sent pictures of themselves to their girlfriend?”

These types of questions are seeking answers from children which frame the problem and the ‘mistake’ within the young person who is victimised by a sex offender in the film. Rather than teaching children that the sex offender had ultimate control and was targeting and manipulating the child so they never could realise what was about to happen, the plenary questions are looking for children to say that the young person should have told an adult, shouldn’t have spoken to a stranger online, shouldn’t have sent that picture. This, my friends, is a slippery slope. 

We are raising a generation who are being trained, by us, to victim blame. Not just each other, but themselves. All we do with these resources is teach children that the decisions they made led to them being abused or harmed – which eliminates the powerful role of the child sex offender and places all of the responsibility on of the harm on the child.

So, where did this validation come from and why was it so hard to hear?

After years of people refusing to listen to what I am saying about resources, you would think validation from real young people would have been a brilliant moment. Instead, it was one of the saddest and angriest moments of my whole career. 

Some of you might know that I have recently written a programme for young people who have been sexually exploited where I am teaching them how to public speak and how to train professionals all over the UK in how to respond to abused children. Last week, we were chatting in between exercises and their public speaking practice and they began talking about the way professionals use films and resources. 

The conversation I watched between four young people of different sexes and ages is here: 


YP1
: You know what I hated? Those stupid films about girls being exploited that they made me watch over and over again. One social worker said to me that it would inform me about abuse and make me realise that my rapes weren’t as serious as the girl in the film. Felt like punching her. She kept saying it would inform me. So patronising. 


YP2
: Oh god yeah I remember them. Like that one where that girl goes to that party and they drug her up and rape her? I kept saying to them ‘why do I need to watch this? It’s already happened to me?’ 


YP3
: Did you lot see that drama thing that came round all the schools where the girl is convinced she’s gonna be a model but they rape her and sell her and lock her in a flat? I BEGGED them not to make me watch that. No one listened to me. I was terrified I was gonna have like a massive mental breakdown in a row in assembly sat on the floor with hundreds of people around me and I wouldn’t be able to get out. They made me watch it like 3 times and one time I was so upset they let me sit at the side of the hall in case I had another panic attack and then loads of people kept asking me why I was sitting there and whether it had happened to me and I was mortified. 


YP4
: One time, when I was really down, yeah, I was sat down at school and told I had to watch three films about self harm and suicide and I really didn’t wanna watch them but they told me I had to so I did. Two of the films were about self harming cos the school knew I cut right, but the last one was about a girl who hanged herself and then it was like interviews with her family about the impact in had on them. It was so upsetting. Not gonna lie to you, I went home and cut really bad. 

Is this the validation I wanted? Is this what I wanted to hear? 

Is this the impact you were hoping to have on these kids? 

No. 

This is my worst nightmare and this should be your worst nightmare too.

This is exactly what I was scared of.

Please, stop using these CSE resources with children. 

YOU ARE YOUR GREATEST RESOURCE

YOUNG PEOPLE DON’T WANT CSE FILMS, THEY WANT YOU TO CARE ABOUT THEM AND LISTEN TO THEM. 

Jessica Eaton

Www.victimfocus.org.uk

Jessica@victimfocus.org.uk

@Jessicae13Eaton 

Why being sexually exploited is nothing like playing on a motorway 

Why being sexually exploited is nothing like playing on a motorway 

Why being sexually exploited is not the same as playing on a motorway.
By Jessica Eaton

You know it’s bad when you have to stand up in front of 40 experienced professionals and explain why being sexually exploited is absolutely nothing like playing on a motorway. 

I have this thing where my face reveals exactly what I’m thinking, even in professional environments. Those of you who know me will know how true that is. Gets me in lots of trouble and interesting conversations. 

So imagine my face when I am away working in London, explaining to a group of experienced professionals that children are never to blame for sexual exploitation; and a woman puts her hand up and says:
“I’m sorry but I totally disagree with you and I think what you are saying is irresponsible. You’re stood there trying to tell us that children are not to blame for being sexually exploited and you are saying that their behaviours do not lead to them being raped and abused but you are wrong. You are ignoring behaviours that children show that would make them more likely to be abused.”

I asked her to clarify what she meant and reiterated my position that no child is ever to blame for being sexually abused no matter what ‘behaviours’ they showed. 

“Sexual exploitation is like kids playing on a motorway. The kids running in and out of traffic on a motorway are much more likely to be ran over by a car than kids playing at home in the garden. If the kids playing on the motorway were hit by a car, you cannot argue that they are not to blame. Loads of kids that are sexually exploited do things that mean that we cannot argue that they are not to blame. If those kids weren’t on the motorway, they would be ran over. If the kids who are being sexually exploited didn’t do the things they do, they wouldn’t be exploited. It’s wrong to say that they are never to blame. They have to take responsibility for their actions. They need to be taught about their risk taking behaviours so they are not sexually exploited.”

I am not going to lie to you, my face must have been a picture. However, I have worked in sexual violence long enough to have heard this argument many, many times. I’ve heard it tied up with ribbons in fancy language about risk taking behaviours and neuropsychological development – but I have never heard it explained with such a confident analogy. 

My responsibility at this point, as a lecturer – as an expert – is to use this challenge as an opportunity to improve the understanding of the professional who used the motorways analogy – but also the ensure her and the other 39 professionals staring at me, waiting for an answer; do not blame children for sexual abuse.

“Hmmm interesting analogy.” I started.

“Whilst I agree with you that children playing on a motorway would be likely to get ran over, and would be much more likely to be ran over than children playing at home, I don’t agree with your analogy to CSE. Actually, I don’t see any logical comparison between your analogy and CSE at all.”

‘Pick your words carefully, Jessica. Use your airtime to teach and persuade’ I think.

“I would argue that the motorway is a constant, physical but non-motivated danger to humans. When children are playing on a dangerous road, drivers are not purposely, meticulously, carefully trying to run them over from miles away. The car is not motivated to hit them to achieve some sort of pleasure or satisfaction. The child is aware of the dangers of the motorway and understands the speed and velocity of a car travelling at 70mph. The child doesn’t want to be hit by the car and the child has not been groomed and manipulated by the driver to think that they want to be ran over and should enjoy being ran over. The child has not been bribed or blackmailed to be ran over using things they need or want. Do you agree that all of this is true?”

She nodded.

“Would you also agree that no matter how much you taught your children about the dangers of roads, the green cross code and how to stay safe; you still could not blame them if a dangerous driver who wanted to harm children swerved towards them, mounted the curb and ran them over?”

She nodded.

“Child sex offenders are not the physical, constant, non-motivated dangers like the motorway that you can tell kids not to play on. They are the dangerous driver who swerves, mounts the curb and runs over the child, who cannot predict it will happen and cannot protect themselves from the impact.” 

She nodded and the other delegates all began to comment, agree and discuss.

And that’s why being sexually exploited is not the same as playing on a motorway. 

Jessica Eaton

Www.victimfocus.org.uk 

Jessica@victimfocus.org.uk

@Jessicae13Eaton 

A poem for the women: I am not who you want me to be and I hope I never will be

A poem for the women: I am not who you want me to be and I hope I never will be

I am the shape that is not deserving of the spotlight 

My shape should be cleverly disguised at all times 

Until my lazy, fat ass can conform to their preferences 

I am just ‘asking for’ their slurs and their hate crimes.

I am the eyes that look straight through them 

My short clumped eyelashes flutter for no man 

These eyes scowl, scrunch up and stare at them 

My feet froze to the spot, but my mascara ran.

I am the untoned arms covered by capped sleeves 

My arms are strong but they are marked forever 

The same arms that can fight his heavy body off me 

Are the same arms that can cradle my children together.

I am the ass that is just never gonna cut it

My ass will never be perfect enough for their lace 

This ass will be groped, slapped and grabbed

They want to feel my flesh but never see my face. 

I am the breasts pushed up, pushed out and reshaped by their bras 

My breasts will never live up to porn expectations 

These breasts will be measured, judged and mused upon

But they will be censored if they are shown for lactation. 

I am the mouth that will make intolerable noise 

My mouth will shout and swear inconvenient truths 

This mouth, that they said was only good to suck their dick,

Will not be bound by their oppressive ideals of beauty, sex and youth. 
A poem by Jessica Eaton

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Web: http://www.victimfocus.org.uk