Read the story of a Singaporean mum who was sexually abused by a priest at the age of 13.
Singapore mum opens up
Jane Leigh has had quite a difficult life, we gather as she opens up about it on TheAge. It all started when her mother encouraged her to go to dinner with a priest, “Father Phillips”, she writes in her book, My Nine Lives. That’s the point when Father Phillips allegedly began to abuse her and continued to do so for two more years.
There came a point one day when she couldn’t take it any longer, she broke down and told her mother about the dark secret of being sexually abused by Father Phillips. Her mother, unlike what you would imagine, was not supportive at all. “It was very sinful of you to lead him astray,” she said, and went to church to pray for her daughter’s soul.”I died that day,” Leigh said.
This was not the end of it for Jane. Her mother thought she needed psychological help, so she sent Jane to speak to another priest, “Father Jacob”, who counseled troubled teenagers. He too allegedly took Jane to dinner, after which he drove her to a nearby reservoir and sexually abused her. He only stopped because he heard some voices approaching. After this incident, Jane was ready to take her life with her own hands. She was about to jump out of the window from her family’s apartment on the 20th floor, but she was stopped by a grill that was rusted and would not open.
You can’t control everything
Although several mothers would want to say that they would never have sent their daughter out with a man, priest or not to a priest alone for dinner, it is hard to know that for sure. Jane Leigh’s life didn’t exactly go smoothly after these incidents either. She faced more sexual assault, and had to deal with a bad marriage too.
Everything that happened in Jane’s life could not have been controlled, but her situation could have been handled better if she had a more understanding mother. That being said, not every situation can be predicted; her being sexually abused by priests certainly sounds unbelievable, but it makes us realise how important it is to know how to keep your children safe from abuse.
How to keep your child safe
Tell your child that no one has a right to make your child feel unsafe or uncomfortable, no matter what and no matter who. Encourage your child to always tell you if anything in their day made them feel uncomfortable or unsettled in any way. Talk to your child about areas that should always be covered, and say that no one is allowed to touch those areas. Reinforce this strongly.
Make sure your child knows that it is ok to say no if they feel violated. Reassure your child that any threats given by an abuser are false, and nothing will happen to anyone if the truth is shared. Finally, stress the importance of avoiding any conversation with strangers.
If you were Jane’s mother, how would you have handled this situation differently? We’d love to get feedback from you! Watch this video of two women, who share their stories on how they were sexually exploited as teenagers: