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If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the below photo (changes daily) as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and your link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Stories below are copyright and are Megan Bayliss' writing around the below daily picture prompt.

The Retail Value of Child Sexual Assault: Disdain or Sympathy?

Wedding shopping (only 6 weeks to go) has turned up a few specials in child protection. Whilst researching and seeking best value wedding paraphernalia I have had many opportunities to enter into social chitchat. “What do you do for a living,” is the standard salesperson question while they attempt to assess what rage of product to display us. My partner’s occupation is totally acceptable and valued: an Accountant. My response, “sexual assault therapist,” is met mostly with two responses: sympathy and down cast eyes or total disdain.

Disdain wins no favors from me. There is no way I will part with my money in that store. Sympathy and down cast eyes really gets me going!!!! The hushed conversation generally runs along the lines of, “What a horrible job. It must be very sad, very hard and isn’t it terrible that some children are sexually abused. Surely it doesn’t happen here though.”

Not being one to overlook an opportunity to consciousness raise around sexual assault prevention, I take the opportunity to gently educate.

I love my job and I love the people I have the privilege to work with. People who are living with having been violated in the worse possible sense are generally amazingly strong, creative and loyal. Read the posts from abyss2hope: (A rape survivor's zigzag journey into the open), Sadly Normal (Seeking Justice and Support for Survivors of Child Sexual Assault), or Child Abuse Survivor (About a male survivor of childhood abuse, and the issues he faces in adult life) and I dare you to not find strength and conviction in these writers.

Those retail salespeople who allow disdain to prejudice their thoughts around sexual abuse have some lessons to learn. Remember that one in three adults report having been sexually abused as children. Their loyalty to your product and corporate responsibility lies untapped. Rarely have I seen businesses that openly support the plight of those sexually abused. Rarely have I heard from clients that they support business because business supports sexual abuse prevention. I can’t help but wonder on the untapped market of securing a loyal customer base of one in three people affected by sexual violence.

Many parents have openly displayed disdain toward talking to their children about protective behaviours. The possibility of child sexual abuse remains low in their thinking and daily lives. Fear of scaring their children or spoiling innocence are reasons frequently trotted out in discussions. Worse still, is embarrassment. Parents have told me that they don’t know how to talk about such a “rare” and “rude” topic.

This last point amazes me. Collectively, parents appear to have no difficulty seeking worm medicine or teaching young children how to wipe themselves when potty training. Both of these health issues centre upon those private nether regions that also do not make for acceptable dinner party talk. Yet, manufacturers and retailers draw enormous loyalty and profit from a customer base prepared to enter into public counter discussion about those little white squiggly threads in Jenny’s pooh.

Next time I’m met with disdain after disclosing my profession and passion, I’m not going to let them worm their way out of not recognising the value of child abuse prevention. In considering whether or not to spend my dollars in the store, I'll weigh up the wider corporate consciousness. The sales person may not give a toss as to if they make the sale or not, the owners probably do. Further, displays of sympathy will be challenged to become displays of action. You can bet your bottom dollar the store owners and staff will be looking for sympathy if I and people like me assess their corporate consciousness as unworthy of our retail spend. Child protection is a collective responsibility. If you feel sympathetic toward the case, do something to help prevent other children from being abused. This site is full of ideas on what you can do. It is often the smallest things that makes the biggest difference.

If you know of a business that does support the issue then they deserve recognition and public thanks. Leave a comment about them, I’ll check them out and dedicate a "Thumbs Up" post to them.

Photo: My daughter and her partner on their wedding day.

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