The topic of how we talk to our children about body safety is often discussed within the survivor community. Some may believe that the task is somewhat easier for us because unfortunately, we have first hand experience and know exactly what our kids need protecting from. That isn’t necessarily the case. A conversation about body safety has the potential to be incredibly trigger for a survivor, and also open the door for our inquisitive children to ask questions about our own childhoods. Latasha Fleming shares with us today as part of the #SurvivorsEmpoweringSurvivors series, the story of how she created a book that can ease the uneasiness of this must-have conversation with our children. She lets us in on the challenges she faced, both emotionally and logistically. Know Tiny Secrets is a beautiful accomplishment that not only will help educate and empower our children, but can be a valuable tool for helping parents approach this difficult and potentially triggering topic.
My daughter was about 2 years old when I began teaching her about body safety and her private parts. Paranoid and overprotective, I looked at everyone as a potential threat to my daughter’s innocence. I knew early on that I would talk to my daughter about everything and allow her to ask all the questions that I often had as a child, which always went unanswered. I wanted to build a trust with my daughter that no one could break, not even a luring, sneaky, child predator.
I realized that if bank robbers can get away with robbing a bank, and murderers can get away with murder, usually committing the crime again; that meant rapist/abusers/molesters are just as (or more) likely to get away with their crimes, and DO IT AGAIN!
I felt this immediate rush of insane bravery and boldness.
Despite my self-doubt, I knew there had to be more that I could do to prevent children from going through what I went through. From having a support system, to bridging the gap between the “sexual abuse prevention” talk and parents, I wanted to give children all over the world a voice and empower them to speak their truths.
From my childhood poetry, to my fictional stories that I created, I knew I had to write a children’s book. I started jotting down sentences of how I wanted my book to sound. I did not have a title for months because the obvious title that came to me was already used in another book. I kept taking notes, and researching books. Months later after a meeting with my close friend, the title hit me and I knew it was perfect: Know Tiny Secrets.
KNOW the secrets of abuse, so there will be NO secrets.
I immediately began to draw a logo that had a key which represents having the key to your future, surrounded by love. I knew I had to include all children in the book, because abuse has no color, face or social status.
I wanted to be certain to include special needs children, as they are abused at a much higher rate, and are many times overlooked when it comes to abuse.
Empowering children with the knowledge to keep their bodies safe and private is the most valuable part of parenting. You can never start too early, and if you don’t teach your kids about sexual abuse, the abuser will.
Know Tiny Secrets was no easy book to release and it came with many tears, fears, and trials. I cried a lot during each phase of developing the book. At times it was shedding tears of joy, and other times it was tears of uncertainty. The fear of uncertainty lurked in my mind and I would play out drama that didn’t exist. I questioned if I was qualified to write, and I shared my thoughts with a close friend, who regularly assured me that I was already trained and hired.
I was dropped from by first illustrator after months of working together and sharing ideas and life. I felt like shit and immediately my childhood feelings of rejection and questions of worthiness resurfaced.
I gave myself the ultimate pep talk and quickly dried my face and decided to survive the storm. That same day, I searched and found my now illustrator via the same website. Reluctant to inquire about her work because she was awesome and over my budget; it’s safe to say I took a leap of faith and it worked out despite my initial doubt. Every other month, I felt like we were so close to finishing and wrapping up the artwork and final drafts, but boy was I wrong.
Self-publishing allowed creative control but also assured there would be no certain control of time and people. My illustrator captured my vision very well, but it was tough sending countless emails to someone hundreds of miles away; especially since I’m a visual person who likes to see and communicate in person.
We did not always agree, in fact at the very end my illustrator tried to remove her name from my book for the better interest of other well-known clients. I felt rejected once again, and I also knew there was no way I could take credit for illustrations and ideas that I alone didn’t create.
The truth boiled down to writing a book that deals with social issues, which many people hate to talk about and some may not want to be associated with. I had to stand strong and remind myself and my illustrator of the truths of the creation of the book and our history. Thankfully everything worked out and I’m very grateful for her dedication and talent.
What would life be without a test?
From start to completion and release, the book took about 3 years total. To this day it still seems unreal; I have to sit and really look back on everything with gratitude that I was able to endure my life, just to be a voice to help save others.
I’m now a child sexual abuse advocate and I have a business Know Tiny Secrets LLC, dedicated to helping empower kids. I travel to youth serving organizations, homes, and communities to read my book, and speak to groups of children about sexual abuse prevention/awareness.
Life, love and forgiveness give me hope each day. What we all can be certain of is that healing is possible, and loving yourself doesn’t have to be a chore that goes undone. Healing takes time; it’s a continuous process that you learn to re-train your thoughts and behaviors one experience at a time.
It’s my dream that our innocent babies will know the secrets of abuse, so there will be no secrets to keep.
Latasha Fleming is a child sexual abuse advocate, mother of a seven year old daughter and lives in North Carolina. A survivor of sexual abuse, Latasha understands the fear and reluctance that keeps kids from reporting abuse to grown ups they trust. As a parent, she makes sure her daughter knows she can tell her anything silly or serious, especially when it comes to her body. Aside from being mom, Latasha enjoys self help books, sweets, quiet time, long chats and a good laugh.
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