My three youngest boys were physically and sexually abused for a long time. The two youngest, most likely from infancy. We found out that one of the ways their perpetrator insured compliance was by threatening them with a knife. As a result the two younger ones seem to think that to insure they get their way, or to ensure their safety, they must resort to violence. We have put together a safety plan for them to use whenever and wherever they may feel threatened. Keep in mind that “threatened” can be as insignificant as annoyed, all the way through bullied, to being violated. My boys don’t seem to be able to distinguish the difference.
There are seven steps, like seven days of the weeks, increasing in the amount of force needed to ensure protection.
1. Say “stop”
This is where it starts. Someone is annoying them, they have the right to say “stop.” This is where it would be appropriate for them to say how they feel, if the situation calls for it.
2. Ignore, or walk away
If the person doesn’t stop, they can choose to ignore them, or simply walk away, as long as the person offending them isn’t being dangerous.
3. Get help
If the person continues to annoy them, or won’t leave them alone, then, they are allowed to seek help from authorities or other grown-ups.
4. Run to get help
Running to get help is allowed of they are scared, or the person is starting to be insistent or get aggressive. I found it interesting that my boys objected and said they are not allowed to run indoors. I had to make it very clear that they are allowed as long as they feel they are in danger or have followed the above steps. They should always run TOWARDS help instead of away from it. Like towards school, neighbors, police, Church, parents, etc.
5. Scream for help
Again, I got objections to this, but I repeated the above.
6. Fight to get away
Interestingly, fighting seems to be their first instinct, even before saying stop. I gave them permission to fight if they are doing it to get away, are in danger and/or have already tried the steps above.
7. Tell, tell, tell
We have abolished secrets in our family. Nothing good comes from secrets. The boys are to tell of the incident to anyone and everyone until they are believed and protected. They know they must never be silent regarding their fears and worries. They have a right to be validated, believed and protected.