Now Or Never

POV | Why I'm talking to my three-year-old about sexual abuse

Three generations of women in Sydanie Nichol's family were sexually abused before the age of 10. Now, Sydanie is working relentlessly to break the cycle of sexual abuse with her own three-year-old daughter.
Sydanie Nichol and her three-year-old daughter. (Submitted)
Listen7:28

By Sydanie Nichol, as told to Now or Never

(Note: this story contains references to sexual assault.)  

On December 22, 2016 at 10:23 a.m., I tweet: "I'm teaching my 3 year old that no one is supposed to touch her private parts. 'Nobody is supposed to touch my private parts. Nobody!' Being a mom is hard."

Since the summer of 2016 I've been slowly teaching my daughter more about consent and what safe touching looks like. The first time I decided I needed to have this conversation with my daughter was when her grandfather wanted her to sleep over at their house.

In her grandfather's house live three of her uncles, all between the ages of 10 and 14. This is very triggering for me. I would never want to make any type of accusation such as, "Somebody in that house might do something to my kid!". I'd especially not want to put that type of accusation on a child… but my cousin was 13 when he raped me. I was five. I think about that every single day with my daughter. She just turned three.

As her mom it's my responsibility to think: "maybe something could happen."

Especially because there's a history of abuse on both sides of family. It would be foolish of me to not pay attention to what my gut is saying and at least ask these questions.

My grandmother, my mother and I were all victims of sexual abuse before we were 10 years old. Ever since I found out that I was pregnant with a girl it's been my biggest fear.

I've been trying to find ways — through self-care and through open conversations like this one — to initiate my own healing and allow that to be a foundation for my daughter to know how important it is to protect herself.

Fighting to break the cycle looks like having consistent open dialogue with my mom about the things that we've experienced and how it still affects us today. I know for a fact that in our community, in the black community, talking about sexual abuse is taboo. I feel it's important to talk about so I address it in every space that I can: Twitter, Facebook, in my music. I talk about it as much as I can.

When I see my daughter, I see myself. I'm afraid of her having her light stolen from her... I feel like my light was definitely stolen from me and I'm still on a journey of recovering it.

I don't know if I'll ever stop being afraid of whether or not she'll be sexually abused. But if I do the best job that I can protecting her, it will be something that she can be proud of to know that the cycle ended with her.