Survivor Mom: Teaching Consent
A four page black and white comic with powder blue shading and backgrounds.
(A woman with long hair and a smile is holding a toddler, they say…)
Once my daughter became old enough to understand and respond to questions, I began asking for permission to touch her.
May I touch your face? …May I touch your arm? …May I touch your hand? …May I touch your leg?
At first, she thought it was just a fun game….
(The same woman with her child are sitting cross legged on the floor together, the mother is looking down at her child and asking… )
May I touch your toes?
( a notation is made under this speech bubble saying..) “I would ask before a game of This Little Piggy.”
(The child in the drawing has a look of glee on their face and their hands are in the air, fingers spread wide, they’re shouting….)
(under neath this drawing, the narrative continues…)
Sometimes after a “no,” she would screech and cackle, because we all know that telling your mother off can feel pretty good. But I would listen, stop… and we’d move on to a different game.
(at the top of this page, the Mom is leaning down and holding a tube of diaper rash cream in her hand, she asks…)
Is it okay for mama to put this on your diaper rash, or would you like to do it yourself?
(off to the side of this drawing is a narrative notation…)
Sometimes it was a YES and sometimes a NO… ive even been asked to leave the room. but answers are never up for debate. Sometimes she’s asked for help. Sometimes the diaper cream never goes on at all.
Below a close up of the diaper rash cream is shown on the floow with the lip off and cream squeezed out in a mess all over the floor. The cream is smeared all over the legs, hands and bottom of a naked child running from the mess. The story narration continues… )
and Sometimes I’ve had to clean diaper cream from every crack and crevice of my hardwood floors.
(narration) Now she’s almost five, and she’s starting to be the one who is asking questions…
(a full page illustration of mother sitting on the edge of the bathtub as her toddler plays in the water and looks up to her to ask…)
Mama why do you ask if you can wash my vulva during bath?
(Mama answers, )
I ask because your body is yours and yours alone. You get to choose who is able to see it and touch it. If you didn’t want someone to touch your body, all you will have to do is say no. They have to listen.
Child: but you ask me every bath, mama.
Mama: That’s because… even if you give me permission once and then later change your mind, I have to listen.
Child: Because my body is mine?
(Illustration at top of page: Mama is holding child’s hand as they stand with an umbrella, both bundled in jackets.)
Mama: Why do i do this?
As a sexual assault survivor, teaching my kid about consent is a form of activism.
If I had the words to describe what was happening to me as a young girl, I may have stepped up and said something sooner. or Maybe it would have alleviated the confusion and shame I felt for years afterwards.
The best way for me to teach my child that consent matters, is to ask for it… and to respect the answer i get. every. time.
Child: mama, can i kiss your cheek?
(Illustration at the bottom right corner of the page shows the two close up with Mama receiving a kiss on the cheek from her kid.)
Mama: YES, please!