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This month's blog features an excerpt from Alice Perle's recently released book, Resolve: a story of courage, healthy inquiry and recovery from sibling sexual abuse. (available globally in paperback, Kindle eBook and audiobook, read by the author. From Chapter 10, Uncomfortable Truths.

One exercise was to write a poem about any challenging or life-changing experience. Immediately, this prompt brought to the surface of my mind a visual, an old black-and-white movie that was often playing right behind my eyes. I realised I'd never acknowledged it, nor said anything about it, this film clip that had played on repeat just for me for a very long time.

I sat with that writing prompt and wrote these words that I also had no idea were waiting to be written out from within me, but they came incredibly easily:

Alert, breathing, waiting.

Only she hears the quietest of footsteps.

No one else hears; does no one else have ears?

Why does no one else ever hear?

Heartbeat drumming, tummy churning, mind empty.

Going limp, waiting to be trapped.

Dread as footsteps stop beside her bed.

Then, Dad’s cough from the next room.

Like playing ‘Marco?’ but no one responded ‘Polo!’

Dad’s subconscious screaming, ‘Wake up!’

Ah, uncertainty, now hovering, risk of capture.

She can’t hear him breathe.

It feels like minutes, yet parts of a second.

Slow, slow, slow; tick, tock, clock,

tick, tock, stop; please stop; stay stopped.

Her breath short, pretending to be dead.

Wishing for invisibility, to magic

herself through the bed,

into the dark beneath.

His feet shift on the carpet. Exquisite

awareness, her every sense alert.

Hopeful, is he going to scurry away?

The tiniest movement, the carpet

squeaking under bare feet.

He hesitates, uncertain, unfulfilled.

He’s boiling mad. Will he risk it?

She waits, praying for a sign that tonight she’s safe.

Then, dozing off, and, as if in a

dream, recalls a shadow.

Alert, the shadow looming was gone.

Heart and breath return to an even rhythm.

Body loose, she drifts into childhood

dreams of cloud lands,

of kittens and fairies and troll bridges.

The bogeyman fades from her mind.

Until next time. There’s always a next time.

~8-year-old Me~

As I finished writing the words of the poem, I stared at how I had signed it off: 8-year-old Me. My pen paused and then kept going as if it had its own mind or possibly its own soul. Be honest with yourself, the pen challenged as it wriggled in between my fingers. It’s okay now to see what it was.

Stop downplaying it: that was your childhood experience.

That film clip running on repeat behind my eyes wasn’t a fictional scene from a film. It was a memory of childhood nights in my little bedroom at the front of the house, a shared bedroom where I was meant to be safe and soundly asleep.

My pen added four additional lines:

9-year-old Me.

10-year-old Me.

11-year-old Me.

12-year-old Me got my first period.

The first draft of the book I’d done before finding therapy was fairly dry and fact-filled. Finally, this little exercise made me realise that acknowledging abuse was more than just saying, ‘When I was a child, or between the years of eight and eleven, my brother abused me’. This visual I’d been having showed me it was about more than just the nights and days I was actually abused. I was affected in all the moments in between too, as tension, vigilance and feeling unsafe became a part of my daily life.

Alice Perle (pen name) is an author, self-leadership coach, business mentor and 3 Vital Questions certified facilitator. She is a survivor of sibling sexual abuse, a loving wife and mother of three adult daughters. Alice posts a weekly blog via her website,, Goodreads and social media, @resolvebyaliceperle on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Resolve: a story of courage, healthy inquiry and recovery from sibling sexual abuse is available globally in paperback, Kindle eBook and audiobook (read by the author).

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Last month’s blog post, “How Your Inner Child and Inner Critic Interfere with Keeping Your Kids Safe,” explains how our own traumas and fears can hold us back when talking to our children about sexual boundaries.

This month, we are deepening the discussion by answering the question, “How to keep your child safe at home?”

Typically when parents think about children’s safety, they think about “stranger danger” or concerns about someone outside the family. However, studies suggest that at least one-third of childhood sexual abuse is perpetrated by other children and young people, like siblings, cousins or neighbors (Yates and Allardyce, 2021).

Specifically, sibling sexual abuse is often largely unreported, which makes gaining exact statistics challenging, however, it is believed to be one of the most common forms of intrafamilial sexual abuse.

As someone who was sexually abused by a sibling, when I first heard these statistics, I felt both heartbroken that there were so many others and also validated. It wasn’t just me and it wasn’t just my family. That being said, there are some things my parents could have done to keep both me, and my abuser, safe.

First off, sexual violence prevention expert Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic assures that the best way to protect against any sexual mistreatment is by talking about sex with your children in an open and deliberate way, starting at a young age. When sex is discussed early and often, and with anatomically correct terms, sexual experiences tend to happen later in life and with less negative experiences.

Explaining safe body boundaries, such as who should or shouldn’t be touching a child where, and in what setting, teaches children about personal space. One simple way to do this is by using the bathing suit rule. Imagine they are wearing a bathing suit and all body parts covered by the bathing suit are private areas. It could also be helpful to remind all siblings that the bathing suit rule applies to them as well, at all times. That is, they should never touch a sibling in their private areas, whether the sibling is awake or asleep.

When talking with children about the bathing suit rule, remind them that only certain people like adult caregivers and doctors, should see or touch those parts and only at specific times. But, if there is a time when an appropriate adult does touch them and it doesn’t feel comfortable, then it’s important to talk about it and not keep it a secret.

In today’s world, it only takes one typo for a Google search to become an illicit experience for all ages. That’s why preparing for the inevitable by instilling parental controls on devices, checking browser history, and talking about what is appropriate and not appropriate online behavior is crucial.

As children grow up, continue to check in on the ever-present adult content floating around the internet. Defend Young Minds reports 50% of parents underestimate their child’s exposure to pornography. In Brad Watts’ book Sibing Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Confronting America’s Silent Epidemic, he discusses that early and frequent exposure to pornography is largely linked to sibling sexual abuse, which is why continuing the conversation is important.

Here are three steps Defend Young Minds suggests when talking with children about pornography: 1) have a definition of the word 2) state a warning or consequence so they have a reason to reject it 3) create a plan so they know how to respond if they come across it.

Another risk factor to sibling sexual abuse is accessibility. This means that family behavior, family rules, and even the arrangement of the house, can play an important role in safety. For example, discouraging children from sleeping in the same bed (even same-gendered children), establishing rules related to household nudity, discussing an open-door policy (even for those sharing a room) and having the caregiver’s room in close proximity to the children’s room are ways to reduce risk.

Babysitting is a common occurrence for families, whether it's by an older sibling, a cousin, neighbor or grandparent. So, when using a babysitter, take a moment to sit down with the sitter to explain the rules of the household, such as what is appropriate to watch and view on the internet. If there is a bedtime routine, discuss bathtime, or moments of changing into pajamas. Explain the rules related to privacy, noting that your child has a comfortable understanding of the bathing suit rule.

If they are an older minor, talk with them about their increased responsibility to care for another’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. This can instill a sense of pride for the job being done. Explain the importance of their behaviors and actions and, if possible, let them know you’ll be checking in regularly. Then, once you’re back home, check in with the younger child and ask them about their experience of the babysitter.

Another tool to not discredit is your own intuition. Pay attention if something feels “off” within your house. Following your instincts might lead to an uncomfortable conversation, but could potentially prevent years of hurt and pain.

Preventing sexual mistreatment in young children can often be overlooked, but by using open communication, clear boundaries, and your own parental instincts, you can help keep your home the safest place for your family.

Brinn Langdale, LMFT is a therapist, speaker, writer, podcast host and SSA survivor and thriver. Visit for more insights and to access free guides and resources about healing trauma and more.


Yates, P. and Allardyce, S. (2021). Sibling sexual abuse: A knowledge and practice overview. Center of expertise on child abuse

Brad Watts (2021). Sibing Sexual Abuse: A Guide for Confronting America’s Silent Epidemic

Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse of the UK (2023)

Defend Young Minds (2023). How to Talk to Kids about Pornography

Jeglic, E. L. (2022). Talking to Your Kids About Sex. Psychology Today (2022)

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guest blog by Brinn Langdale, LMFT

Talking to your child about sex can be uncomfortable, although it’s scarier to think about them not being physically safe with siblings. It is estimated that one in twenty children are sexually abused by a brother or sister—although it's not a topic a lot of people are talking about.

Sometimes, a parent’s interior monologue can interfere with teaching their children how to stay safe. If you’re someone who thinks, “I’m scared to talk to my child about sex because I don’t want to say the wrong thing and alarm them,” you might actually be listening to the voice of your Inner Child. Or, if you worry that talking about sex will pique your child’s interest in sex, that could be the Inner Child as well.

Let me explain: We all have an Inner Child. It’s the part of ourselves who lives life based on past experiences. Motivated largely by fear, our Inner Child is often locked in survival mode, preparing for worst case scenarios in order to avoid the discomfort of things going wrong.

Over half the women in the United States, and one third of the men have experienced sexual trauma—including myself—and this kind of personal history makes any conversation about sex and boundaries more difficult. Anything related to this topic can activate a fear response from our Inner Child, causing us to become emotionally charged and overwhelmed. That overwhelm can lead to avoidance of necessary conversations or overprotection of children that does not supply them with the knowledge they need to keep themselves safe.

On the other hand, it’s the Inner Critic who tells you that your child is too young for a conversation about sexual boundaries or that your children love each other and would never hurt each other. The Inner Critic might even suggest that home is a place where you never have to worry about your children’s safety.

The Inner Critic doesn’t always sound critical. It’s the voice that judges and measures how good enough, important, or meaningful something is. Like the Inner Child, it focuses on survival and protection. It might convince you that you’re not knowledgeable enough to talk to your kids about sexual boundaries, or that if you were a better parent you could keep your child safe from everything. It might minimize the need for a talk about sex, because, similar to the Inner Child, this part of ourselves avoids the uncomfortable.

The Inner Child and the Inner Critic exist for a good reason. They help us watch out for danger, push us to be better human beings, and ultimately want good things for us. However, they are not the right leaders for a conversation about sexual safety. That role is reserved for the logical, level-headed, informed, and educated part of ourselves: The Adult.

The Adult operates from reality. It’s aware that one in three families experience some sort of sexual abuse within the family and that siblings are the most common offender. The Adult is not in denial. It’s not overly emotional either.

The Adult pays attention to and enforces healthy boundaries. They listen to experts like Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic who say that the best way to protect a child against any sexual mistreatment is by talking about sex with children in an open and deliberate way, beginning at a young age.

The Adult understands that when sex is discussed with children early, often, and with anatomically correct terms, sexual experiences tend to happen later in life and with less negative impact.

So in order to have open conversations with your children in an easeful way, become aware of your Inner Child and Inner Critic. Spend some time journaling or talking with a trusted friend to figure out why these selves have adopted the perspective they have, and what they are trying to protect you from. Then, take a few deep breaths and assure yourself that you can handle whatever comes next, and that you’re doing the right thing. These steps allow the Adult to lead the conversation when educating children about sex and boundaries so they are prepared and safe.

Brinn Langdale, LMFT is a therapist, speaker, writer, podcast host and SSA survivor and thriver. Visit for more insights and to access free guides about your Inner Child, Inner Critic, and Adult.

Jeglic, E. L. (2022) Talking to Your Kids About Sex. Psychology Today.

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