I tried to get my nephew to omit the truth last week, aka tell a lie! I wanted him to watch a movie that he wasn’t allowed to, but he was adamant that he’d have to tell his mother the truth and consequently get into trouble. It was a kids movie but just one his mother didn’t want him watching. Aunty Manda’s solution was just to lie or simply omit the truth. He wasn’t having a bar of that and we had to choose another movie.
After this happened I started thinking about when is it ok to lie and as a new mum when is it ok to tell my daughter some lies are ok?
I’ve been seeing far too many #me toos popping up on my Facebook feed this week and I’ve been reminded of one of my own sexual assault stories. I was probably 14 -15 years old on my way home from school, on this particular day I was alone. To get home I had to catch two buses connecting in the city and often had a 10-20 minute wait for the second bus. I was sitting alone in a door way when a man came and sat next to me. He’s already invading my personal space as these doorways aren’t very wide. He started chatting away and then asked me if I had a boyfriend, I was a little taken back by the question and answered truthfully, no I didn’t. He edged closer and closer and put his arm around me. I was completely terrified, what would he do next?! I was surrounded by people and no one noticed how distressed I was. My heart was pounding out of my chest, I scanned every passing bus with desperation hoping it was my bus. I’m sure I remember staring at people walking past hoping someone would ask me if I was ok. In hindsight I should have just stood up and walked away. I should have asked someone I saw regularly on my bus if I could wait with them. I was panicking and couldn’t think. I should have told him to fuck off.
When I finally got home very relieved he didn’t follow me onto the bus my mother was horrified. Her response… you should have lied!!!! You should have told him you have a boyfriend and that he was 6’2 and would be here any minute. We then discussed some of the other options I mentioned above and we had plans in place if I saw him again. I’m sure fuck off would have worked but unlikely something my mum would have suggested.
So in this instance lying would have been ok, but how do we teach this moral reasoning to children? Sometimes we lie to protect others or ourselves, we worry about offending or hurting feelings. Personally I’d prefer to tell the truth and deal with the fall out.
Sexual assault is something we should never lie about, ever. Male or female, child or adult if you have been sexually assaulted tell someone. It should never be pushed under a rug, offenders should not be allowed to go free. We all know it’s a life sentence for many of the survivors, and a death sentence for others. For the sake of survivors we should talk about it, let them know they’re not alone, that they’re believed, supported and loved. We should also remember those who have lost their lives, and act bravely to stop it happening to others.
My sexual assaults are minor compared to others but they still exist, they still shaped my life and will shape how I teach my daughter about her body and how NO ONE is allowed to touch her without her permission.
I’m so sorry if you’ve been assaulted and if you ever need to talk about it I’m always here.