Pat's Answer

My Dad used to grope and smack my butt and he would make me kiss him on the lips, is this normal?

Your Question

My Dad used to grope/  smack my butt and he would make me kiss him on the lips when I was 9-12 years old I wanted to know if that was sexual assault or if its normal.

Answer

Hi there, welcome to ask Pat.  

Thank you so much for writing to us. We understand that it can be difficult to reach out and talk about things that might make you uncomfortable. You have shown great bravery in contacting the Ask Pat service. 

You have asked a question in relation to appropriate behaviour from a parent towards a child. Each person will have different ways of expressing their emotions and affections. This is often influenced by what we experience in our home environment and in turn, determines what we view as ‘normal’ ways of expressing our emotions. However, even if we are part of a family, we are all individuals so our ways of expressing our emotions can differ from our parents and siblings. It is important that we communicate to our family members and friends what style of emotional expression we feel comfortable with, and in what way. For some people it will be acts of kindness, for others it is kind words and for some, it is physical affection such as hugging and kissing. As we grow up and began to learn more about ourselves, we begin to learn about our own style of expressing emotions and equally, what displays of emotion we feel most comfortable with in our relationships.   

I noticed that you used language such ‘grope’ and ‘make me’. The use of these words would imply that you did not feel comfortable with these acts. You mentioned that this occurred from the age of 9-12; is this something that you continue to experience to date? Have you thought about sharing how you felt (or are feeling) with a trusted adult? This adult could be your mother, grandparent, aunt/ uncle, older cousin or a teacher.

You have the right to be heard and listened to, and to express how you are feeling. You have a right to feel safe in your home, to be protected from harm and the right to feel safe around the adults that are responsible for your care. You also have the right to privacy which includes physical boundaries in your relationships with other people. No one has the right to touch or slap you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable or makes you question whether what happened is sexual assault. There is an article on the Childline website that might help you understand whether what you have experienced is abuse: https://www.childline.ie/what-is-abuse/. 

If you ever feel that you are in immediate danger you can contact the emergency services on 999 or 112 – these calls are free of charge from any landline or mobile phone. You can also contact TUSLA who are responsible for keeping children in Ireland safe and protected from harm. You can find your local Tulsa office at the following web address if you have a question about what has happened to you: www.tusla.ie/get-in-touch/local-area-offices/. 

Childline is here for you through phone, text or online chat, and we would encourage you to talk to us about what is going on for you. You can contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. All the services are confidential and non-judgemental. Our contact details are phone: 1800 66 66 66, text 50101 or web chat that you can access through this website www.childline.ie 

We think you are very brave for reaching out to us as we understand that it was probably not an easy thing for you to do. We hope you find this information helpful, and please get in touch if you have any other questions.  

Take care,  

Ask Pat.  

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