Stephanie L. Jones, author of The Enemy Between My Legs, has a divine mandate on her life to help abuse victims break free the pain and bondage of their past.
Mrs. Jones is a highly sought-after speaker for organizations, schools, and churches. After spending several years working for Fortune 500 companies and as a successful publicist for book authors, she opted out of the corporate world to become a sexual abuse advocate. Having experienced sexual abuse for over seven years beginning at age five, she knows the effects that it can have on a victim’s life. She is known for her honest approach in dealing with sexual abuse, a subject that few people will openly discuss. She has the ability to understand and connect with abuse victims, especially teenagers and young adults.
Be sure to visit her on her website at: www.stephanieljones.com to learn more about THE ENEMY BETWEEN MY LEGS and to find out where she will be next!
DG: Stephanie, thank you for being a willing vessel to share and uplift others. I commend you on the courage you have and for your willingness to educate us on the real issues concerning child sexual abuse. Please tell us what gave you the courage to write a book that describes your own personal experiences?
SLJ: My courage came from my personal relationship with God, as well as the fact that I’m completely healed from the past. Because I am healed, I was able to write my story without any fear, shame, or guilt. I must also give credit to my husband, Robert. His support keeps me encouraged!
DG: Your title, The Enemy Between My Legs, what does it mean and how did you come about giving your book a title such as this one?
SLJ: I struggled with the title for a long time. However, I prayed about it, so that settled it. I now realize that a lot of people think that I’m describing my genitalia as the enemy, but I’m not! The title describes how I was attacked as a child. I wasn’t abandoned. I wasn’t beaten. I wasn’t ill or physically challenged. I was attacked sexually – between my legs!
DG: Do most sexual abuse victims become promiscuous and why and is it true that a good many sexually abused victims become sexual abusers?
SLJ: Yes, many victims become promiscuous. Think about it – almost 70% of all teen pregnancies and abortions are preceded by sexual assault. For many victims the abuse is not a one-time incident. It’s something that happens over a long period of time, especially if the perpetrator gains the child’s trust and/or believes they will not tell. After a while the victim may begin to like the way it feels. This is not to say that they’re attracted to the person or the act itself, but it does feel good to the body. It’s very difficult to deny the feeling of lust and sexual desire once it’s there. I was sexually abused for almost eight years. At ages 14, 16, and 18 it was hard to say no to men and deny my body the desire for sex at that point. Victims also tend to group sex and love into the category, especially females. They try to use it as a method to get the love, attention, or other things they desire. Many of them are given hush-money, candy, and other gifts as children. In a way it’s like teaching a child a form of prostitution at a young age, an exchange of their body for something in return.
Unfortunately, many victims become victimizers, especially during their childhood and teenage years. Children oftentimes share their experiences with other children – sexual abuse included! I hear this from people quite often. They’re not only hurting about what happened to them, but they’re ashamed about what they did to someone else as a direct result of what was done to them. That’s why it’s so important to talk about this issue. We must stop the generational cycle of sexual abuse!
DG: What is your thought on children being allowed to “spend the night” or stay over at a “sleep-over”?
I’m not against either, because we still have to allow children to be children. However, both of them must be done with extreme caution and should be limited. Parents shouldn’t allow for their children to spend the night just anywhere, and this includes over certain family members’ homes! If a child is allowed to go to a sleepover, parents need to ask questions. Who are the other children attending? Who are the adults providing supervision? What are the sleeping arrangements? I recall being asked to drop someone’s child off at a sleepover. I was upset because the parent knew nothing about the child or the parents. That’s ridiculous! It wasn’t my decision to make, but I went in and scoped-out the place! I asked several questions. I got names and all of the information that I possibly could get.
DG: It seems that most of the cases we hear about relating to sexual abuse is usually tied to a parent, a relative, a trusted friend of the family, or a babysitter. Please share your knowledge on this….is it a fact or fiction that children are molested, raped or taken advantage of by the list above in a high percentage?
SLJ: Ninety percent (90%) of all sexual assaults take place at the hands of a family member, trusted leader, or close family friend! 90%! Yes, we have strangers lurking in the park and internet predators, but we need to address what’s happening right in our own homes!
DG: What advice would you give to others on being more cautious and aware about sexual abuse?
SLJ: People must stop thinking that it can’t happen to their children! Sexual abuse is rampant! Single parents must stop bringing men and women home to their children. Too many females have told me that they were molested by ‘a mother’s boyfriend.’ Too many males are being molested by their female babysitters. People have to probe their children by asking them hard and honest questions. They know a lot more than adults give them credit for. Again, stop allowing for children to spend the night anywhere and everywhere. Parents should learn more about their child’s daycare center. Get to know their friends and the people they’re around often. Children need to play outside and not indoors behind closed doors! Be nosey! Yes, that’s right! A lot of information can be found right up under parents’ noses inside of diaries, on websites such as MySpace and CrushSpot, and in text messages. Oftentimes it can be seen in their attitudes and behavior.
DG: Have you forgiven the individual who sexually abused you and do you offer this as a method to helping one to heal from the hurt and scars inflicted on them by the abuser? Please share your thought/opinion or personal experience.
SLJ: Yes, I have forgiven my abusers. I purposed in my heart to let it go. Forgiveness, which is a decision and not a feeling, is required in order to heal. Anger and bitterness will only keep a person stuck in the past. It’s a choice one makes. I’ve had women tell me that they’ll never get married or have sex because of what happened to them. Men have told me that sexual abuse caused them to question their sexuality and hurt or act out violently toward others, especially women. Individuals such as this can only move on by forgiving those who offended them.
My healing process was a journey. It didn’t happen overnight. While there may be other necessary steps, I believe that healing begins with: 1) prayer for strength, courage, and understanding, 2) forgiveness, 3) talking about it, and 4) a change of attitude and personal choices, such as a choice of friends and certain behaviors.
DG: Stephanie, thank you for sharing your knowledge and for having the courage to write about your painful experience. I encourage you to continue spreading awareness on the issues of child sexual abuse and sexual abuse at the rate you have. Much continued success to you.
- 66% of teen pregnancies and abortions are preceded by sexual assault.
- 96% of prostitutes were sexual abuse victims.
- 75% of rapists were sexual abuse victims.
- 60% of children who experience abuse and neglect are more likely to be arrested.
- Only men sexually abuse children.
- The child must be removed from the home and the perpetrator automatically goes to prison.
- My child will tell me (only 15% of abuse cases are ever revealed).