Not My Child
As a therapist at Chesterfield Family Guidance, I try and write pertinent information that can be useful to the community. Although therapists can provide useful information, education, statistics, etc, surrounding mental health topics, those individuals that have "experienced" or assisted others thru a trauma, can offer valuable advice and support that therapists don't have, except through feedback from their clients.
I wrote a blog last February called "Creating an Effective Response to Child Sexual Abuse" that provided information about seeking treatment for victims. When one of my families reached out and requested to relay their experience upon hearing their child (children) had been sexually abused, I knew this information could be useful to other families.
Here is their story:
I debated some more........
I debated longer.......
Then I decided it was time to take the plunge. Time to talk and heal from our experience. If you're reading this, it means I finally decided to stop debating and publish it,and well,here goes nothing! It has been 2 years, 2 months, 4 days, but yet sometimes it still feels like yesterday. The day she got into my car still haunts me. There are certain situations, certain times, that I have these mini-flashbacks. The look on her face, the tears down her eyes, and me screaming, "You are kidding me?!. I knew right then and there that I had to believe her, trust her, and be there for her because if her own mom could not, then who would?
I decided I was going to start here. I'll begin with how important it is for a parent to listen to their child when they tell you those dreaded words, "He hurt me." It is even more dreaded when you find out that "he" was her own father. Her own blood! The man she was supposed to trust, the man that she was supposed to be able to tell everyone, "I'm his little girl." I am not going to lie, I was hoping that this was a sick joke. Maybe she was a bitter teenager. Was she having trouble with the divorce? Those were a few of the thoughts that ran through my mind for about 3 minutes.Once she turned her head, looked me in the eyes and answered, "Yes" after I asked, "Did your daddy touch you?" I knew this was for real. Call it a mother's instinct.
Not only must you listen to your child but most importantly you must BELIEVE your child. BELIEVE your son or daughter's friend when they confide in you. NEVER tell your child you do not believe them. Trust them and assure your child by telling them, "I believe you." Then know you are in for a long road, but a road well worth it for us! It is a difficult journey but one I hope will be worth it for you and your family in the end. Provided you have to live this nightmare too.
Your child may not have the voice to advocate for themselves. You may have to be that voice for them. I never imagined we would go through what we have in the last two years. What I can tell you is that I would do it all over again for my child, for justice to be served, and for others to know that THEY are not alone!!
So where am I going with my first blog post? I want to ensure that you know the importance of being an active and involved parent. I can not tell you how many times we (her stepfather - soon to be dad through adoption), have been told we were so easy to work with. We made sure we were , and still are, active with the prosecutors and our advocate. We immediately sought out counseling and have made sure we have remained active in all of this from day 1. We have followed through with all of her appointments with those handling "it" (that is how she refers to her biological father now) and his fate, but most importantly we have remained actively involved in her counseling and healing process. Your number one priority is to make sure seek counseling (for the victim and parents) and it continues through the healing process until your child has graduated from the in-depth process of dealing with a trauma like this. It is not going to be over in a day, and it won't just go away, that I can assure you. However, what I can also assure you is that everything will be okay as long as your child feels you are behind them 100% of the way, like our daughter does!
This is just the beginning of the story, my friends. The TRUE story, including the real & raw details of the life we've been living. The final outcome, the sentencing, of the trial is scheduled to be revealed on February 2nd. Until then, we will continue to support, love, and advocate for our daughter, and others, who are diligently working to move forward and define a new norm.
Sarah Heard, LCSW is a is a Clinical Associate with Family Guidance Centers. She provides individual, child, family, and marital therapy. She can be reached at 804-743-0960 or can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her patient provided this excerpt from her personal blog for us.
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