Not My Son…

Remember in my first blog when I said the purpose of this is to challenge the way we think about our attitudes about sexual violence?  To get people talking… well, this one might.  If you have an opinion or a question, remember, I really want to hear from you!  We can’t Make a Shift without talking…

I was walking my dog this morning thinking about what to write about next, then it hit me: Boys.  I have two amazing children: my oldest (23 yrs) is a girl, my youngest (21 yrs) a boy.  They are the best thing that I’ve ever been a part of, and I want nothing but a life full of happiness and joy for both of them.  If you are a parent, I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about.  I want to protect them from everything bad in the world.  I want to give them the skills and confidence to know how to protect themselves.  I worry about them differently, but equally.

I work in a sexual assault support centre.  I am aware of the statistics.  Statistically, my daughter is at a much higher risk of being a victim of sexual violence than my son is.  Statistically, if she was going out for coffee with five of her friends, four out of the six of them would have experienced some sort of sexual violence.  Now that’s a scary thought.

But then I got thinking… most sexual assaults are not committed by strangers.  In fact, 87% of survivors of sexual assault knew their assailant, most commonly as a casual acquaintance, a family member, or an intimate partner.  And 94% of sexual violence offenders are men.[1] That’s men, like my son.  Now don’t get me wrong: I am not worried about my son being a serial sex offender.  Most men will not commit sexual assault.  What I am worried about is what if he’s with a girl and “things got out of hand” and she felt he didn’t listen to her and claims he assaulted her?  That’s what scares me.  Here’s another startling statistic: false reporting of sexual assault happens in only 2% to 8% of cases.[2] That means if a girl said something happened with my son, chances are she would be telling the truth.

Wow.  Mind blown.  Not my son.  But I’m sure that is what most mothers think when their son is charged with sexual assault.  Ok…  Don’t panic Sandi… Deep breath…  How do I best protect my son from a situation like this?  How do I give him the skills to be able to avoid getting into a situation like this in the first place?

Be honest.  Sex is a normal, natural, and wonderful part of being human.

Be clear.  Sex is not something to take lightly.

Talk about CONSENT.  Don’t lecture- talk.  These kinds of conversations are amazing opportunities to get to know your son, and for him to get to know you.  Ask him what he thinks consent means.  Explain the importance of consent.  Let him know that you understand how exciting sex can be, but that even in the heat of the moment someone (meaning him or his partner) can change their mind.  And that’s ok.  In fact, it’s better than ok.  It’s very mature to be in a situation that they may be enjoying, but then choose to stop.  And it takes courage to say they want to wait, stop, or do something different.

Make sure he understands when consent cannot be given.  In other words, make sure he knows that being under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs negates consent.

Model and teach RESPECT.  Relationships are based on respect.  Sex can be part of a relationship.  Respect your partner.  Both your son and his partner deserve to be respected.  If he is with a partner and they change their mind, talk about ways he can handle it.  Yes, it would be physically frustrating- but it won’t kill him.  What could he actually say in the moment?  Practice… “You know what (whatever their name is), I really like you and if you aren’t ready, I respect that.”  “It’s ok (whatever their name is), I want to make sure you are really ready before we (whatever they were going to do).”  Help him say the sentences now, before he needs them.  It’s like muscle memory- if he says them now, chances are better that he will remember them in the moment they are needed.

Be proud of your son.  The fact that he is willing to sit with his parent and talk about an issue that probably isn’t the most comfortable for either one of you says a lot about his character.  He is mature.  He understands this is important.  Give him the tools and the confidence that you believe in him- that he has an important role to play in Making the Shift!  By ensuring he has his partner’s sexual consent, he is part of the SOLUTION.  How cool is that??  Be proud parents, you’ve got a great son there!!


If you need immediate support with anything regarding sexual violence, please call Dragonfly Centre 780-812-3174 or toll free 1-866-300-HEAL or use our online chat support on our website.

Until next time… Let’s Keep Making the Shift!


[1] Government of Alberta,

[2] The National Centre for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women, 2009