While I watched my daughter the other day playing, I loved to see how innocent she still is. It’s something that I admire. There seems to be no real worries, no real fears. I’m glad that she feels that way. Glad that we can make her feel so safe. Without wanting to try to go crazy I also realize how big the chances are that things can change drastically. Without fault of any of us. Of course that’s the moment my smile sort of goes away and my thoughts take a slight other turn. Suddenly all those numbers pop in my mind, the promises I made to her to keep her safe, the realization that other parents most likely have made the same promises but were unable to keep them.
This is a Blast From The Past about keeping a promise.
Last night my daughter had a nightmare. She came to our room, pretty upset and as I usually do in situations like this, I let her crawl under my blanket and hug me. As you do, I cuddled with her and held her, kissing her and telling her that Momma is here. That Momma will always be there and will always protect her. After a deep breath she fell asleep but for me that was it. I couldn’t fall asleep anymore. I wondered what if I could not keep that promise?
One thought was chasing another. Here I was, holding my girl after I made a huge promise.
I will always protect you.
A simple promise. A big promise.
What if I could not keep this promise? What if I would not be around to protect her if she would need it? What if I would not realize that she needs protection? What if I could not protect her?
Statistics I’ve recently read about Domestic Violence in Australia came to my mind.
“The vast majority of dangerous, abusive and violent behavior that occurs in the privacy of people’s homes is committed by men against women. The most recent information on violence in Australia comes from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Personal Safety Survey (national survey of 16,400 adults in Australian aged 18 years and over) conducted in 2005. The first issue of this survey was conducted in 1996. The 2005 survey found:
- Just under half a million Australian women reported that they had experienced physical or sexual violence or sexual assault in the past 12 months.
- More than a million women had experienced physical or sexual assault by their male current or ex-partner since the age of 15 (some women may be counted twice if they experienced both physical and sexual assault).
- 37.8% of women who experienced physical assault in the 12 months before the survey said the perpetrator was a current or previous male partner and 34.4% said the perpetrator was a male family member or friend. Most incidences of physical assault against women in the 12 months prior to 2005 were committed in a home (64.1%).
- 33.3% of women had experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
- 19.1% of women had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.
- 12.4% of women had been sexually abused before the age of 15, compared with 4.5% of men, between 1996 and 2005. There was an increase in the reporting of sexual assault to police from 14.9% to 18.9% between 1996 and 2005 and there was an increase in the reporting of physical violence to police from 18.5% to 36%.
- 64% of women who experienced physical assault and 81.1% of women who experienced sexual assault still did not report it to police. The proportion of women aged between 18 and 34 who reported experiencing physical violence has decreased but the proportion of women who reported experiencing physical violence after 45 increased over the same period. The percentage of women who reported that their children had witnessed partner-related violence either from a current or ex-partner was lower than in 1996.
- The majority of violence against men is committed by other men. Of men who reported that they had experienced physical violence in the 12 months before the survey, 73.7% said that the perpetrator was a male.”
I bet there were promises made too. The numbers are shocking and speak to themselves. Those women have not been protected. Maybe the mothers didn’t know. Domestic violence is usually not something you speak about. Maybe the mothers have not realized it until it was too late. Sometimes there are too many good excuses for bruises. And yet, the promise of always protecting their daughters, that those moms must have made too at one point in their lives, has not been kept.
Another brutal stat came to my mind:
“Australia has one of the highest rates of reported sexual assault in the world, at almost 92 people per 100,000 of the population, according to the United Nations. Another survey has quoted the Australian rate at more than double the global average.”
Now that is only the reported number. Many sexual assault victims don’t speak up. And again, promises of always protecting them were made but couldn’t be kept.
I got to the point where I really tried not to think about other stats, like traffic accidents and so on. My night was over anyway, my mind spinning.
I wondered what those victims must have thought, if the thought of their mother’s promise to always protect them crossed their minds at all. I wondered if they felt angry or disappointed. I’m sure that a daughter would never blame her mom for not protecting her unless she knew and did nothing against it. But I’m also sure that it would make me, as a mom, feel incredibly guilty, if something like this would happen to my girl and I would fail to protect her.
Unfortunately there are things we can just not influence.
It’s what comes from the outside that we can not influence. It’s reactions of people involved that we have no influence on. Even our children’s. Coming back to the domestic violence cases: How many of those women might have been offered help and they just did not take it? How many of them were told that they need to get out but they simply couldn’t see it? How many of their moms tried to protect them but were cut off for doing so?
Things are not always as easy as they seem.
I wish I could put a bubble of protection around my kids. I wish I could always be there to protect them from any harm. I wish they will always let me be there for them. That they let me protect them if needed. But I know that it might just as well not be possible. What I If I can, though, I will give my all to make sure no harm is done to them.
Now it’s all about hoping that it will never be needed…