Evelyn Yang, author of A Kids Book About Sexual Abuse, talks about speaking up in any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Evelyn Yang, author of A Kids Book About Sexual Abuse, talks about speaking up in any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable.
A Kids Book About Sexual Abuse (view book)
Full Book Description:
Some of the most difficult things to talk about are also the most important. Sexual abuse happens more often than people realize but most kids don’t learn about it until after it happens. This book will help give them the language to understand what sexual abuse is and start the conversation around owning their bodies and trusting their instincts.
About the Author:
Evelyn Yang is a mom to two boys and an advocate for families. She is passionate about justice, neurodiversity, and food. Her platform and advocacy work have been an unexpected blessing after her husband ran for President. She still actively works on overcoming her own fears in order to use her experiences to help other people.
*If you want to be on a future episode of A Kids Book About: The Podcast or if you have a question you’d like us to consider, have a grownup email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you the details.
A Kids Book About: The Podcast
S1 E11, Evelyn Talks About Sexual Abuse
Matthew: A quick note: This episode is about a topic that might be sensitive to young listeners. The content is appropriate for listeners ages 5 and up and does not include explicit or graphic language, but it's probably best to listen to this episode with a trusted adult in case you have questions. (Questions are always a good thing to have!) If for any reason you suspect a child is being sexually abused, please seek additional help and local resources. If you are in the US, you can talk to someone who is trained to deal with these situations by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org. Okay... let's start the show.
Matthew: What is sexual abuse?
Trent: I do not know.
PARENT: It’s okay that you do not know.
Pritam: To me, sexual abuse means when one person abuses another person’s body and exploits their body including their private parts in a bad way without the person’s consent.
Evelyn: To discuss sexual abuse, I'm going to talk about each word individually. Sexual is a word referring to your private parts, the areas of your body that are just for you that are almost always covered. Abuse refers to when someone touches, shows, does, or says something hurtful to you on purpose.
So when we put the words together, sexual abuse, it means when someone touches shows does or says something hurtful to, or about your private parts. But let me be clear: sexual abuse does not have to physically hurt to be sexual abuse.
Matthew: Welcome to A Kids Book About: The Podcast! I’m Matthew. I’m a teacher, a librarian, and I’m your host. The voices you heard at the top of our show were from Trent, Pritam, and Evelyn.
Each week we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series.
[MEET OUR GUEST]
Evelyn: Hi. My name is Evelyn Yang. I'm a mother, a wife, an author and an advocate for people who have experienced sexual abuse. Which is what I'll be talking about on today's episode. My husband ran for president in 2020, which gave me a unique opportunity to talk about my own experience with sexual abuse. I am the author of A Kids Book About Sexual Abuse.
Matthew: Listeners, sexual abuse is a challenging topic for kids and grownups alike to talk about. When something is not talked about openly in public, we refer to it as taboo. And unfortunately, by keeping sexual abuse taboo, by not talking about it, we give power to the people that abuse others.
Evelyn: Sexual abuse is taboo because it involves our private parts, which we don't often talk about. We don't see each other's private parts, so we don't usually talk about them. But sexual abuse is something that we should talk about because it's important to keep us safe and our bodies safe. Kids need to learn the signs of sexual abuse to be able to recognize it in case it ever does happen and also learn how important it is to talk about no matter what.
Sexual abuse is also taboo, because so many people walk around with trauma related to sexual abuse. Because there are so many survivors that means there are a lot of people who are hurting, who have never been able to talk about their experience.
By talking about it we can heal each other and be better at keeping each other safe and healthy.
Matthew: That’s tricky, right? It feels like a subject we shouldn’t be talking about because it involves our private areas, and yet by not talking about it, it’s hard to understand just how frequently people, and especially kids, are sexually abused.
Evelyn: There are different statistics and different organizations have measured it over time. And the one that really stung was as many as one in four girls and one in six boys. I even think that that number for boys might be underreported because it's harder, I think, for boys in our culture and men in our culture to come forward with these stories.
Matthew: “Tell someone” is a line you will read over and over in A Kids Book About Sexual Abuse. It’s the line that stuck with me when I first read it and it’s the line that’s on my mind right now which is why I want to tell you what I’m about to tell you.
When I was 8 or 9 years old, I was sexually abused by a member of my church. His name was Marc and he was not someone I knew, but he was someone my parents knew. He was a teenager and my mom and dad paid him to babysit my younger brother and me once or twice. And each time he did, he sexually abused me. He played a movie on our tv and while it was playing he told me to do things to his body. I was confused. I didn’t know why he was telling me to do those things. But I also knew that he was in charge and that made me feel like he wouldn’t tell me to do something that was wrong. He took advantage of me and it is still something that affects me today, over 30 years later.
I can’t remember if I told my parents, but I can remember that this experience became a thing that I locked away in my brain and didn’t talk about until much, much later when, as an adult, I began seeing a therapist. My therapist, Dr. Cara, helped me to understand that it was not my fault. It was never my fault. And together we called the police department to report this crime that happened when I was a kid.
I’m okay. And I’ve found a lot of strength in being able to understand and talk about my story. That’s actually why I’m sharing it with you now: to help give you some of my strength in case you are a person that needs it.
Evelyn: I am a survivor of sexual abuse, which means someone did something hurtful to me in this way. It can really happen to anyone, especially kids. One of the most important things to know is that sexual abuse oftentimes happens when someone we know hurts us.
In my case, my doctor hurt me. I was confused because I thought my doctor was someone I could trust. So this means that even someone you care about could possibly be capable of sexual abuse
Matthew: It’s important to know that if sexual abuse happens to you, it is not your fault.
Evelyn: For kids, sexual abuse usually happens when bigger people want to feel powerful. They don't have to be bigger than you, but most of the time they are. When a grownup has some kind of authority or power, they can take advantage of people who are smaller.
So it could be someone who's older, hurting someone who's younger than them. It could be someone like a doctor, in my case, having power and control and who liked making me feel small and helpless.
Matthew: It’s also important to know that talking about sexual abuse can lead to preventing it from happening again or from happening to someone else.
Evelyn: Unfortunately, this particular topic is one that we do not talk enough about given how prevalent it is. So many people are sexually abused. So many people are walking around with the trauma of sexual abuse. And so the more we talk about it, I'd like to think that the less it can happen or the less it can continue to happen. And the more we can support each other because you can't support each other unless you know what happened.
If you ever find yourself in a situation when you are being hurt by someone you thought you could trust, do not feel guilty. It's important that you remember that it's not your fault. It's never your fault.
Matthew: We’ll be back in a minute with Evelyn - and the answers to questions submitted by listeners - right after this break.
Matthew: Welcome back to A Kids Book About: The Podcast. On today’s episode we’re talking about sexual abuse with Evelyn Yang.
This conversation may be causing you to think about a topic you haven’t given much thought to before. I invite you to sit with whatever questions might be coming up. It’s good that you have those questions. Your grownup might have questions, too. I still have lots and lots of questions.
As you sit, think about how thinking about survivors of sexual abuse makes you feel.
Trent: Because I don’t like people touching other people’s private space on their body. If people do not want to be touched in their private space, don’t touch them in their private space. Especially kids!
Pritam: Thinking about survivors of sexual abuse makes me feel sad because the victim has gone through such a horrible experience and it’s very hard for them to recover from that experience and to talk about it. And it also makes me angry that the perpetrator feels that they have the power to abuse somebody’s body like this when they really don’t.
Evelyn: When I think about survivors like me, I feel like I'm not alone. I feel empowered. The truth is there are millions of survivors around the world. When it happens to you, it can feel scary. It can feel like you're alone, but I hope if you ever find yourself in a situation when someone is sexually abusing you and you're scared and don't know what to do, I hope you remember that it's normal to feel scared, but that it's so, so important to speak up and tell someone about what happened to you. You aren't alone and it's never your fault. There are so many people across the world who have experienced this exact same thing, and you should never feel alone.
Matthew: “You should never feel alone.” I love that reminder because it’s true. Sometimes it feels like we’re all alone, like we’re the only ones who have ever felt or gone through what we’re feeling or going through. But you’re not. You don’t need to feel alone.
Evelyn: After my own experience of sexual abuse by my doctor, I was trying to find a way to explain what happened to me, to my own two kids. I realized that it was really important to keep them safe. Most books about sexual abuse are written by doctors or clinicians, people who study the subject but who have not necessarily experienced this subject.
I wanted to tell my story from the viewpoint of a survivor, how I felt, what I did, what happened to me so that kids can learn about it from this true story from a real person. A Kids Book About was the perfect series for my book because they have a lot of experience taking difficult topics like this one and making them more relatable to kids.
Matthew: We received a number of questions for Evelyn. Today we’re hearing from two listeners: Trent in Florida and Pritam in California. Here’s Trent:
Trent: Why are people mean and why would people touch other people in that person’s private space if they don’t want it? Or if they’re kids?
Evelyn: That's a great question, Trent. People are usually mean because making other people feel bad gives them a sense of power and control. There are different ways to be mean. And I think the root of it is usually to try and feel powerful and it's easier to feel powerful over kids because kids are smaller.
So that's why kids need to be aware of this kind of situation.
Matthew: Next, we’re hearing from Pritam:
Pritam: A question I have about sexual abuse is how to make laws that are fair and that can help victims of sexual abuse and make sure that justice is given to them. Like for example, we can, like… you can create rehabilitation for sexual abuse survivors who have trauma from their experience.
Evelyn: That's a great question. Pritam. I think it's so wonderful and powerful that you're thinking about laws to protect survivors of sexual abuse because survivors of sexual abuse need protection. We know that it's very difficult to come forward. With this kind of experience to begin with. And as a survivor, we're worried about people believing us, people taking us seriously and we do need laws to help us feel more comfortable to come out with our experiences.
And so we need better laws to fix things so that when other people come forward, next time, that they're treated better.
Matthew: I had one last concern that came to mind when I was speaking to Evelyn. I know that sometimes we ask our friends to keep secrets for us. To make sure they don’t tell anyone else. Often, it’s because we’re afraid that it could make the situation worse. If a friend tells you a secret about them that has anything to do with sexual abuse or, really, any topic that makes you worried or concerned, Evelyn shares this advice.
Evelyn: If a friend confides in you, it's important to tell a trusted adult. It's the only way that you can help them. It's important to remember that this is a very serious problem that only an adult can help with. You should not however, tell other friends because it might make your friend feel embarrassed.
The number one thing to do is to tell a trusted adult.
You should always trust the power of your voice. Speaking up when you think something can be wrong. Trust that you will be believed and that what you say can make a difference.
Also, should you ever find yourself in an abusive situation, oftentimes it can feel so overwhelming, that maybe everything you've learned about what to do, like say “no” and running to a safe place, could all go out the window. That is very understandable. And the most important thing to know is to tell a trusted grownup about what happened.
Matthew: It’s worth saying aloud again. If something, anything happens to you, tell a grownup that will listen. And if you don’t feel like they listened, find another grownup and tell them. Just make sure that you tell someone.
Evelyn: So kids, any situation, any situation where you might feel speaking up is uncomfortable, but it could help yourself, it could help other people... It's a really important life lesson, I think, to just use your voice and it will be powerful and you can change lives.
Matthew: Thank you to Evelyn Yang, author of A Kids Book About Sexual Abuse, for joining us today. And thanks to our very special kid voices for helping make this episode what it is.
Trent: My name is Trent. I’m 7 years old. And I live in Florida. And my favorite thing is reading and animals.
Pritam: Hello. My name is Pritam Ishri and I am 12 years old and I live in California. Some of my favorite things are biking, reading, and playing board games.
Matthew: Thanks, Trent! Thank you, Pritam! If you want to be on a future episode of A Kids Book About: The Podcast or if you have a question you’d like us to consider, have a grownup email us at email@example.com and we’ll send you the details.
A Kids Book About: the Podcast is written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner, with help from Chad Michael Snavely and the team at Sound On Studios. Our executive producer is Jelani Memory. And this show was brought to you by A Kids Podcast About.
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Join us next week for a conversation about Change with A Kids Book About author David Kim.