Topic Of The Week

Helping Others….

Discovering that your child has been sexually abused is a life altering moment.  Everything that you believed about your child’s world changes, and you immediately want to fix it.  However, fixing it is easier said than done.  Whether you can actually fix it is actually debatable depending on who you ask.  But, you can seek to ensure that the abuser is charged and punished for their crimes; you can seek counseling for your child to begin the process of mental and emotional healing, you can take your child to a medical doctor to ensure that any physical damage is addressed, and you can support your child emotionally throughout their lifetime.  With all of that said, there is one more thing that you can do…. commit to helping others.

Becoming an advocate for child sexual abuse prevention and supporting survivors (including the parents of survivors) are two important aspects of helping others and it will only cost you your time.  There are free resources that you can tap into to learn more about child sexual abuse and the behavioral cues/grooming strategies of predators, so that you can become a committee of one to spread the word about awareness and prevention.  You can seek out support groups to join in an effort to provide emotional support to those who have been affected by this unnecessary evil as well as to continue your own personal journey to healing.

The idea that we take our experiences and allow shame and guilt to send us running into hiding is exactly what predators want.  However, we must do the exact opposite.  We must take a stand for our children – for all children.  Even if our children aren’t quite ready to publicly acknowledge their experience, we can still support others privately and even anonymously.  The idea is simply to do something…..do something that will help us all fight against child sexual abuse.  Together we must believe that our efforts will make a difference while we take the journey to healing together.

The Danger in Naivete………

They Are Getting Out Of Jail; Now What?

We were notified 90 days prior to his release date. This gave us time to take it in and prepare our daughter. Although some have disagreed with our decisions, we didn’t tell our daughter immediately. We took a week or so to absorb the reality that the person who abused our child would soon reclaim his freedom. It was a hard truth to accept seeing as how we in no way felt he has served enough time to atone for his crime. We were angry all over again, but we had to quickly check our emotions and prepare to support our daughter. We knew there was a big possibility this would cause her to regress back into feelings and emotions that she had been trying to heal from. Nonetheless, it was our job as parents to support her.

In the days prior to his release, we checked in with her regularly and encouraged her to let us know where she was mentally and emotionally. She admitted that some anger had resurfaced because she didn’t feel justice had been served. We reassured her that her feelings were completely appropriate and understandable. We gave her space to just feel whatever she was feeling. We also gave her specific instructions on what to do if she encountered him anywhere. These instructions were recited for several days to make sure she would not panic; but react, and react quickly.

The day he was released she woke up and asked if he was out. We explained that to the best of our knowledge he was free and what his parole officer had told us about the requirements and conditions of his parole. She chose not to go to school that day because there was some trepidation with knowing he was out and he could violate his parole and seek her out. Her fears were certainly understandable and we wanted her to feel safe, so we supported her decision to stay close to home until she was comfortable going out and returning to her day to day activities.

As parents, it was critical that we kept our emotions in check as well. Not to say that we had to be super heroes and act like we weren’t affected by him being released, but we had to hold it together for our children, and ourselves. We had come a long way and we didn’t want to undo all of our progress by making hasty decisions that would impact us in a negative manner. We took the time leading up to his release date and in the days to follow to check in mentally and emotionally with one another and our therapist. Admitting where we were struggling and talking things through was a tremendous help. It hasn’t been easy, but we are determined to heal!

Next week’s topic………Helping others

Getting Your Paperwork In Order

Part of the final phases of the court proceedings is making sure your child will be protected once the abuser is released from jail. One way to help accomplish this is to request that the judge sign a protective order prohibiting the abuser from having contact with your child or your family during their incarceration and also once they are released from jail. The protective order specifies the length of time for which the order must be adhered to and should the abuser violate the order, they are subject to arrest.

Another task is to determine whether your state has a mechanism in place to notify the victim or their family when the prisoner is moved or released from jail. You must register for this service and notification is sent by mail, or  you can opt to receive the notification by phone. Either way, it is does provide some peace of mind to know that the abuser won’t be released back into society without your knowledge. The same organization that assists with the notification process can also assist in making sure the abuser is not paroled back into the same community. We were able to request that the offender be paroled into a different county.

The final task that we recommend is to speak with the abuser’s parole officer. Ask specific questions about where the offender is actually be paroled to, what are his restrictions in terms of how far he can travel from the location he is paroled to, and what the penalty is for violating these restrictions.

Additionally, given the nature of the crime, the DA should have pushed for the abuser to be registered as a sex offender, in which case, he should be electronically monitored with a GPS tracking device. That said, make sure the parole officer knows where your child resides, attends school, or works, so there is significant tracking radius placed around your home and the places that your child frequents daily. Granted, the system is terribly broken and the monitoring isn’t fail-safe, it is still worth doing as an added precautionary measure. You should also make sure your child has clear instructions on what to do if the abuser violates the protective order. This includes getting to a safe place, calling 911 and the parole officer immediately!!

Next week’s topic…..They are getting out of jail; now what???

The Victim’s Impact Statement

Once the DA offered the plea bargain, we were advised that we would have an opportunity to let the judge know how this crime impacted our family. My daughter had the option of speaking publicly in court or writing a letter to the judge. We too, as parents, were given the option of speaking in court or sending a written statement to the judge.

The original purpose of the Victim’s Impact Statement was to help the judge understand the extent to which the victim and the family was affected by the crime. Often times the judge may take the statements into consideration when determining the criminal’s sentence.  One can only hope that the judge is not desensitized by the constant exposure to pain and violence, and he/she is able to tap into the raw emotions that are often expressed in these statements and worn on the sleeves of those who give the statement.  However, when a plea bargain has been reached, the jail/prison sentence is already set. So, barring the judge’s discretion to reject the deal, the statements are more of a formality and opportunity for closure for the victim and their family.

Never the less, we encourage victims and their families to take this opportunity to have their voices heard. It can be very therapeutic. And, even if the victim has someone read their statement aloud in court on their behalf, it can be very cleansing to know you have addressed your abuser and spoke your truth….

Next week’s topic……Getting your paperwork in order

The Benefits of Therapy

Many of you reading this have carried the pain associated with child sexual abuse; either as a victim, or as the parent or guardian of someone who has been abused. The best gift that you can give yourself and/or your child is a place to openly discuss what has happened and work towards healing. Therapy isn’t taboo anymore!

Finding the right therapist for your child and the rest of the family is very important. You want to be sure your child feels safe in their environment, and comfortable opening up to this new person in their life with whom they are being asked to relive some of the most painful memories in their life. As a parent, it is extremely important that you work closely with the therapist so you are reinforcing the lessons the therapist is using to rebuild your child’s self esteem, boundaries, and outlook on life. Keeping the lines of communication open is critical to ensuring that you are aware of your child’s progress.

We checked in with our daughter’s therapist regularly to apprise her of noticeable changes in mood and behavior- both positive and negative. The therapist would in turn provide us with suggestions and techniques that we could use at home to help our daughter through the days when she needed a little extra support.

Keep in mind that therapy isn’t easy on the victims because a good part of it is designed to tap into their experiences, which can be quite painful and emotionally challenging to relive. There will be days when the therapy sessions will leave them a bit raw. Learning the best way to deal with your child during these times will help keep them in the right head space and invested in the healing process. You can’t give up and you can’t let the child give up either.

The therapy MUST be age appropriate and incorporate tools and techniques based on the child’s level of understanding and cognitive abilities. For younger children, the therapist may use play therapy or art therapy, which involves using toys and drawing to help the child express what they can’t quite communicate verbally. For older children, the therapist may use workbooks and other writing assignments to get the child to tap into their feelings and express themselves.

As parents, it is also crucial that we get help as well. There are often a lot of emotions that we are dealing with as well, and we can’t let them go unchecked. Married couples can be extremely vulnerable during this time, so the lines of communication must remain free-flowing to ensure that your relationship does not erode from the stress that accompanies the legal process and your child’s healing process. Siblings of the victim should also engage with a therapist to help them process what has happened and make sure they aren’t forgotten about in your attempt to address the victim’s needs.

Bottomline……everyone in the home isn’t a direct victim, but everyone is affected and therefore, everyone needs to participate in the healing process.

Next week’s topic……The Victim’s Impact Statement

 

The Plea Bargain…….

Our legal system doesn’t offer much “justice” for those who are victims of sexually based offenses.  The process often leaves the victim and their families feeling as if the penalty imposed was not commensurate to the crime. After all, how does one sexually abuse another human being, a child no less, and the parents are asked to accept an agreement that allows the criminal to spend far less time in jail than the crime actually warranted?

In our case, the DA presented us with a proposed plea bargain that would require our daughter’s abuser to agree to a measly five years in jail. It was presented to us as the best alternative because there was no guarantee he would be found guilty if the case went to trial. We were also pushed to accept this agreement as a way of protecting our daughter from the additional trauma of more court appearances that would require her to testify in front of a jury.

Needless to say, it was a difficult decision because we wanted him to get the maximum sentence. However, we struggled with the thought of whether she could and should endure a trial, and agonized over the fact that it was possible that one juror could derail the entire process and this monster would go free!

In the end we agreed to allow the DA to move forward with offering a plea bargain, but the whole thing never sat well with us.  We knew the law would require him to serve 85% of his time in jail, but that was only 4 years, and in our minds, that wasn’t nearly enough time for the crime. Not to mention that he confessed and it seemed unfathomanable that a jury of twelve wouldn’t have found him guilty. But the plea bargain was presented as the best option to ensure that he at least served some jail time.

Of course every case is different and there are definitely mitigating circumstances that determine the direction the DA goes with a case. But, for us, it just seemed that the legal system was geared far less toward the criminal getting the sentence that he deserved, and far more about wrapping these cases up in nice tidy little bow so the respective attorneys’ records arent tarnished and they dont have to deal with the uncertainty of a trial.

Next week……..The Benefits of Therapy

 

Preparing for the Preliminary Hearing and Testifying…..

The court process can be very difficult on the victim because it is the job of the abuser’s legal counsel to have the charges dismissed, and if that’s not possible, secure a not guilty verdict.  Therefore, the victim will often have to relive the abuse several times over by way of questioning from the assigned Deputy District Attorney (DDA), the police, and in the courtroom during the preliminary hearing, and again at the trial, if necessary.

In our case, we took our daughter to meet with the DDA prior to her first required court appearance, which was the preliminary hearing.  During this meeting, the DDA advised our daughter that the opposing counsel would ask her questions designed to confuse her and make her look like a liar; upset her and cause her to recant her story, and/or make it appear that abuse was consensual or solicited.  Our daughter was then posed with questions that might be asked by the opposing counsel using foul and vulgar language.  She was asked to by very specific in terms of describing the abuse.  She was admonished to use appropriate anatomical terminology and not nicknames for body parts.  She was also admonished to repeat anything that her abuser said to her verbatim (in other words, if he used profanity, then she was asked to repeat exactly what he said to her).  These sessions were intense for her to endure and for us as parents to witness, although we were asked to step out during a portion of each to ensure that our daughter could withstand the pressure and wasnt being coached via body language etc.

When it was time for our daughter to testify, we requested that the courtroom be closed.  This means that only officers of the court (judge & lawyers) and courtroom staff (clerks and bailiff) were allowed to remain in the court during her testimony.  My daughter was also allowed one adult advocate in the courtroom and I was allowed to sit in close proximity to her while she testified.  The reason for our request to close the courtroom was simple; we didn’t want her to have to relive the abuse in front of strangers and looky loos.  This was a very emotional time and we wanted to make it as comfortable as possible – if comfort was even achievable under the circumstances.

As expected, the abuser’s attorney took every opportunity to make our daughter out to be a liar.  She threw question and after question that was worded just slightly different from the preceding question in hopes that our daughter would slip up and change her answer.  In fact, our daughter subtly called her out using verbiage like “Well, as I stated before,” which indicated that the question had been asked and answered.  The opposing counsel also suggested that the abuse was more or less consensual sex and our daughter solicited the abuse.  Of course, this angered our daughter and before the opposing counsel knew it, our daughter steadied herself and began to respond to each question with such stealthily placed sarcasm that even the judge was caught smirking a time or two. Granted, while this is not advisable behavior, it did have the desired effect because the opposing counsel relented once she realized our daughter wasn’t going to back down or break under the pressure.

It is also important to mention that the preliminary hearing was the first time that our daughter had to come face to face with her abuser since the process began.  She was advised not to look in his direction so she wouldn’t become flustered or break down in tears.  However, our daughter found a sense of triumph in facing her abuser and recounting what he had done to her while she looked him square on.  It was chilling to watch because most people wouldn’t have the type of courage and fight she displayed that day.  If it is even appropriate to utter under the circumstances….we were proud of her that day.

Next week’s topic….The Plea Bargain

 

Going to court….

The first court hearing is the arraignment hearing.  This occurs once the District Attorney has determined that there is sufficient evidence to charge the abuser with a crime.  During the arraignment, the charges are read and the abuser enters a plea (guilty/not guilty).  The abuser can also petition for bail and the judge will determine the amount of the bail.

In our particular case, the abuser confessed to sexually abusing our daughter during the interrogation, which led to charges being filed.  However, during the arraignment, he plead not guilty.  Bail was also set, but since he could not afford to post bail and no one that he knew was willing to post it for him, he remained in jail.

Keep in mind, there are numerous hearings that take place during this entire process, and many of them, to my dismay, are for the benefit of the abuser!  As we journey through this process, you will see how warped the system can be and how so many abusers are freed to go out and commit the same crimes over and over.

Next week’s topic……Preparing for the Preliminary Hearing and Testifying

Social Services……

Once the crime is reported to the police, the police notify child protective services (CPS) of the case.  CPS opens an investigation that aims to determine whether we, the parents, allowed or created the atmosphere that led to the sexual abuse.  Given that we had another child in the home as well, they also try to determine whether both children are living in a safe environment.  This is where parents can often feel let down by the system.  In essence, our lives and home were being scrutinized like we knew the abuse was occuring!

As we mentioned in a previous post, the police opened their investigation and visited our daughter’s school to question her without our knowledge.  Within a few days of this incident, our daughter sent us a text message stating a social worker was at her school questioning her, and she wanted to know if she had to speak with the gentleman.  Based on her accounts of the interview, he basically told her that if she didn’t cooperate, he could call the police and have her escorted to the police station for questioning.  Of course, the mere suggestion that she would be hauled off in a police car while her peers looked on was yet another form of trauma for someone who had already endured so much and seemingly was still no more in control than when she was being abused.

Incensed by the lack of communication on the part of the social worker, I began calling the number that he left with my daughter after the interview.  When he finally called back, the conversation started off very hostile because we felt completely violated by his actions.  I assured him that we did not appreciate the fact that he showed up unannounced at my daughter’s school and reiterated how upset she was to be pulled out of class yet again all the while wondering what to tell her classmates.  The social worker was ready for a fight and literally began taunting me by telling me he could show up at her school anytime he felt like it and he was on his way to my younger daughter’s school as we were speaking.  That made the conversation even more hostile as I made it clear to him that he was not to show up at either child’s school without notifying us.

The conversation stayed quite heated as he rambled off policy and procedures that defined the scope of power his position provided.  I felt as though my husband and I were on trial.  Even worse, once again our daughter felt like she was being violated and we, as parents, felt powerless because of a “system” that made us part of the criminal element until they decided otherwise.  As this heated discussion continued, I made it clear that WE called the police, WE filed the police report, and WE had been pushing the police to do their jobs the entire time; therefore, WE were entitled to a little more respect in this process.  After admitting that he had not read the report thoroughly and was not aware that we had initiated the police investigation, he apologized and his tone softened. We then had a more civilized dialogue……

The social worker acquiesced and agreed not to go to either daughters’ school to question them.  Instead, we arranged for him to come to our home the following Saturday for an in-home interview with our youngest daughter.  We also arranged to take our daughter to the police station if any additional or follow up questions needed to be asked.

When the social worker arrived that Saturday, he had a brief conversation with us and explained that there are so many instances of predators living in the home with the child, and often times the family is aware of the abuse and does nothing or very little about it.  He suggested that this is sometimes cultural and in other cases it is just simply poor parenting.  He apologized for not handling the situation better and not being informed before moving forward with his investigation.

Our youngest daughter was interviewed while we sat in a separate room.  We later found out that he asked her if she knew why he was there, what was going on with her sister, and if she had been abused herself.  He also wanted to know if she thought we knew her sister was being abused.  She answered the questions honestly and at the end of the interview, he advised us that he had no reason to believe that we were aware of the abuse our daughter had experienced, nor did he believe that we had not provided a safe home for our children.  To sum it up plain and simple, there was no need for our children to be removed from our home and placed in protective custody.

CPS definitely has rules and regulations to follow, which is understandable to a certain extent.  As parents who found out our daughter had been sexually abused for such an extended period of time by a relative whom we saw often was hard enough to process…..BUT, to be the “subject” of an investigation to determine if we were in some way accessories to the crime was just way to much to wrap our heads around.  We definitely felt that sensitivity training was in order and each case should be handled based on its respective circumstances and details. Accusing the parents at the top of the investigation automatically creates an adversarial relationship, which can hinder the process of getting the justice for the victim.

At the end of the day, we say cooperate with CPS because failing to do so could be quite costly…you could lose custody of your child(ren).  It is okay to try and set some ground rules and boundaries, but if the social worker is not willing to work with you, just do your absolute best to do what it asked.  If you feel your rights are being violated, you may need to seek legal assistance.
Going to court

The Medical Exam……

While we did not learn about our daughter’s abuse until approximately eighteen months after the last encounter, we felt it was prudent to take her to the doctor for a physical exam and tests.  Of course, there was concern that there might be added trauma to her mental state if she was required to undress and subject herself to an exam that many women do not have until they reach adulthood.  However, we spoke to her and explained the importance of making sure that she was physically healthy.  We also gave her the option of stating whether she preferred a male or female doctor.

When making the appointment, we notified the staff at the doctor’s office about the reason for the visit.  We were very specific because we wanted to be sure that the doctor was not blindsided by what would be discussed during the visit.  It was also important to let them know during the initial call that we had just become aware of the abuse,  a police report had been filed, and  an investigation was underway.  These precautionary measure were done in an effort to ensure that the doctor and staff were especially sensitive to our daughter’s needs and avoid a scene that might involve the police or Child Protective Services being called to take another report once we arrived and the appointment got underway.

The appointment involved a screening by the doctor during which my daughter was asked a few open-ended questions to help the doctor assess what type of trauma my daughter experienced.  Prior to actually starting the exam, the doctor took proper care to explain the process of the examination to my daughter, the types of tests that would be run, and when she could expect to receive the results.  As the exam was getting ready to get underway, I gave my daughter the option of me staying in the room or standing outside the door while the examination was conducted.  Thankfully, she chose to allow me to stay in the room with her for support.

I was careful to allow her to answer the questions that were posed to her because I wasn’t sure if the doctor’s report would need to be subpoenaed by the courts and it was extremely important that the doctor could honestly report that all of the information that she received were my daughter’s words and there was no sense of coercion or coaching on my part.  This is very important for all parents and caregivers to understand…..you must let the children speak for themselves if they are able to; otherwise, you can affect the outcome of the reporting and investigative processes.  It is also important to note that your family doctor’s medical report may not suffice in the courts and you may be required to take your child in for a court required examination with a court appointed medical professional.  If that is the case, your legal advisor will provide you with the details and specifics of this process.

All be it we had been praying constantly since we learned of the abuse just days before the medical exam, there was even a greater sense of urgency in our prayers when we were faced with waiting for the various test results.  Keep in mind, discovering the abuse is more than one thinks they can handle as a parent, but the thought of the abuse leaving your child with some type of medical issue creates a whole nother level of mental anguish.  We are grateful to report that our daughter’s tests all came back fine. That was something positive for us to hold on to in the days, weeks, and months to follow!

We thought we would address the aspect of dealing with Social Workers this week as well, but the medical exam and dealing with social workers might be a lot to take in all at once so let’s hold it over until next week.

Next week’s topic…..Social Workers and their policies and procedures

 

Calling the Police and Reporting the Crime…..

We called the police within a half hour of our daughter disclosing the sexual abuse to us.  The officers arrived within the hour and we explained the reason for the call based on the accounts given by our daughter.  The police officers requested to speak with our daughter privately, which we were later informed is common practice.  The female officer conducted the interview while her male counterpart stepped out of the room to make our daughter more comfortable.  During that time, we remained quarantined in a separate part of the house to ensure that we didn’t coach her in any way.

After my daughter was questioned, we were allowed to return to the room and a report was written up.  We were given a copy of the report, advised that the report would be turned over the the police departments “Special Victims Unit” that dealt primarily with cases involving minors and sex crimes.  There were no guarantees made as far as what we could expect other than contact being made by an investigating officer within a few days.

I called the next morning to determine what the next step would be and we were given the name of the investigating officer who asked questions regarding the whereabouts of the abuser.  We provided as much information as possible and  we were advised that efforts would be made to locate him and question him about my daughter’s accounts of the sexual abuse.  In the meantime, unbeknownst to us, the same detective went to my daughter’s school to question her in an effort to assess whether we, her parents, had any knowledge of the abuse or were complicit in any way. We were livid because she was embarrassed by their presence at her school, and we would have taken her to the police station ourselves if they had simply asked!

With the help of a family member, the abuser was taken into custody for questioning the following day.  After multiple sessions of interrogation over an 18 hour period, he eventually admitted that he had sexually abused her.  His confession was videotaped for documentation purposes.  The detective called us in to inform us of his findings, explained what he would be documenting in his report for the District Attorney to review, and advised us that his confession would be useful, but there were no guarantees of what the outcome might be.

 

Next week’s topic…..Social Workers and the Medical Visit

 

Disclosure……

April 1, 2008 changed our lives.  That was the day our 15 year old daughter told us she had been raped and molested over the course of 3 years.  As a parent hearing my child’s truth for the first time, I was in shock and my emotions were all over the place.  My mind raced trying to answer the question, “How could this happen to my child?” In the moments that followed, I felt everything from rage, extreme sadness, guilt, and physical pain.

We discovered that the person who assaulted her was an older male cousin and all of it occurred after school while in a family member’s care.  Part of our anger was rooted in the fact that we really believed that we had taken every precaution to guard against something like this from happening.  We, like many parents, were always concerned about protecting our children so they were always in the care of family members. However, like many people reading this blog, we quickly learned that while stranger danger is real, often times the real danger can be from “trusted” family and friends.

There is no right or wrong answer in terms of how one responds to their child’s disclosure of sexual abuse.  It is nothing that one can ever prepare for and certainly not something that you ever expect to hear.  Just know that your response will affect your child for the rest of their life.  They NEED you to believe them, support them, protect them, and seek justice for them….

We want to hear from you…..please feel free to ask questions, share your thoughts, comments, or your own personal experience by replying below.

 

Next week’s topic…..Calling the police and reporting the crime

10 comments

  • Shameia, GA says:

    First, let me say that I am so sorry for the pain your daughter endured. I too know the feeling of that emotional roller coaster. However, I have it as a victim. I’m sure you have her in counseling, if not, I strongly recommend it. I never went, but as an adult I find it very beneficial. I often wonder where I would be mentally if I would have started it then.

    The sad part about this (and mine story too) is that it was done by someone we know, love and trust. The sole purpose of being in the relatives care is to prevent such acts from a stranger. But hey, we just never know.

    I do wonder though, is this cousin a victim himself or is he just mentally unstable. As for my story, from the age of 3-14, I was molested by four different men. All at which were relatives or close family friends. (Today is the first time I confess of it being four and not three.) Two were mentally unstable (mentally retarded) and the others were mentally unstable (sick minded). HOWEVER, non at which I feel sorry for because they all knew it was WRONG!!! My feelings are, if you have to sneak and do it and coerce a child into such an act, you are aware of the difference between wrong and right. If you do wrong in the public eye from honestly not knowing (mental illness), then you really don’t know the difference.

    I think what you guys are doing is awesome. This is another form of healing and though, I’m an advocate of counseling/mental health care, I think this too is good for the mind and soul.

    You guys may or may not have thought about it this way, but God used you guys and your family. Look at what you guys turned your tragedy into. You guys have found your purpose as a union and are doing great things with what He has handed to you all. So, I pray that He continues to hold and heal your family and continue to allow you guys to be an advocate for victims, parents and even the lost from these terrible acts.

    Blessings to you all!

  • kathyb says:

    Shameia…
    Thank you for sharing your experience. The person who molested my daughter isn’t mentally retarded. He was fully aware that his actions were wrong because as you said, he went to great lengths to hide his actions and coerce her into staying silent.

    She was in counseling immediately following. However, I personally think a survivor could benefit from counseling as an adult as well because this can be a lifelong healing process.

    We will provide more info and details as we progress so parents have the knowledge they need to spot a predator. Again, thank you so very much for sharing…our goal is simply to provide a forum for survivors and parents to share and be heard.

  • AngieL says:

    Kathy,

    I commend you, Richard and Taylor for sharing your story. I am deeply sorry to hear about this horrible act that Taylor had to endure.

    I have shared my story with many people over the years, and I know that strength comes every time I share it.

    I was molested by my father at the age of 6. He also molested my sister (not sure of the age), and later on, tried to molest a cousin who stayed in our home for a brief period of time. These are the instances that we KNOW of…who knows how many others he molested over the years or what he did outside our home.

    Although my mother was well aware that he had ‘roving eye’, I don’t think she was aware, early on, that he had molested me and my sister. Because our home environment also included severe verbal and physical abuse, he was able to cover it up and intimidate me for many years. I had suppressed what had happened, and it was not brought to my consciousness until the age of 13. We were watching a Barbara Walters special where she had interviewed a former Miss America Pageant winner, and she was disclosing during that interview that she had been molested by a family member. Keep in mind, the topic of sexual molestation was still quite taboo, even in the early ’80s. When my father realized that I had realized what he had done to me, the intimidation kicked in. I lived a life almost completely sheltered from the outside world. I could not enjoy the pleasures of childhood. My sister and I were treated like indentured servants inside our home. My mother, in her stubborn pride and to save face with her extended family who were concerned for her based on past history with my dad, refused to leave him or admit to those who inquired that something was not right, even though she knew her children had suffered and were suffering in that environment.

    After years of being intimidated, I finally found the courage to tell my mother at that age of 18. She tried to act surprised…she questioned my dad. He denied it. Then later on admitted to it. He apologized to me in front of her and that was the end of it. She stayed with him until he died. She is now deceased, as well.

    Only because of the grace of God, I was able to defy every statistic growing up. The trajectory of my life was forever changed. But I see how God was still charting my course. I can only tell you that over time, and as you continue to share your story and experience, you will be strengthened. This has been a very long road for me, because my abuse was not just sexual.

    As an adult, I am now in therapy and am dealing with the past and present issues in my life with the help of a professional, that for so long I have had to deal with alone and only with the help of God.

    My father and I did have a chance to meet again, before he died. God put me on a plane to confront my parents for the last time, not knowing that the next year and half, they both would be dead. My father did give me something that most victims do not receive from their abusers. This time, he was very, very sorrowful and repentant for what he had done. I did not realize, until he died, that he gave me a gift. And that gift was acknowledgment. And that really put me on the road to healing. That meeting 6 years ago. And I can say, since then, my life has changed for the better. God has changed the trajectory again, but I know accept the path that I am on and I trust that in God’s divine providence, He will reveal what His purpose is for me in all of this and how He wants me to proceed in helping others.

    For those who never receive that acknowledgement from their abusers, they must know that they can overcome the pain and rise from the ashes of the emotional wreckage of their lives without it. By the grace of God, I have and will continue to do so.

    I pray that God continues to bless you and your family and give you continued strength and courage as you progress in your path to healing.

    Love & Light
    Angie

    • kathyb says:

      Angie:
      Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We need to hear from everyone who has endured any type of abuse, because not only is there healing for others in our sharing, but there is healing for us as well. The abusers count on silence in order to continue their wicked deeds, but WE ALL can play a part in stopping this evil…one testimony, one story, one open heart and mind at a time.

      Please tell others about this forum and encourage them to share their experience. And, we invite you to come back as well. This is a shared journey and we want to take it with all those who are in crisis, as well as those who have overcome and can encourage others!

  • Sheila says:

    It saddens me and hurts my heart to know that you, my family has gone through such a tragedy.This is something you never expect to happen in your family and to people you love.I applaud you all for taking a stand to fight against child sexual abuse.I pray God will continue to heal you guys as you share your story to help others.

    • kathyb says:

      Family support is so very important when addressing the issue of child sexual abuse, especially if the abuser was a family member. Many survivors are still carrying the secret of their abuse because the family required that they remain silent for fear of how it would affect the family’s standing in the eyes of others. We were compelled to start this work because we understood the necessity for open dialogue and support for families who dont have any. Thank you for supporting our efforts and showing the world that families can support one another and heal together.

  • Jean says:

    Kathy, when I read the first account of this abuse, I was extremely upset. I too am a SURVIVOR this terrible crime against children, which steals their childhood. My prepatrator was my older brother, who not only abused me and my sister, but he allowed an “old man” to do the same. I was 6 years old and this stunted my growth and created many problems for me as an adult. I am a survivor and I praise you for the way you, as a family have dealt with this. Especially the open sharing, which will help others to come forth. This sick perversion against children, can be stopped, on family at a time. Education is the key. Thank you Kathy and Richard for your courage. Taylor will have a better adult life, because of the choices you are making and have made in exposing this evil. She should never be ashamed, as I was, as she has a supportive family and Thank God for Natalie, for her hand in helping to heal in this tradegy.
    What the devil meant for evil, Jesus will bring good out of it.
    Jean

    • kathyb says:

      Thank you for sharing Jean! Your testimony can help so many people. We are all connected and the words of one can heal hundreds. Just knowing that there is someone out there that understands the fear, anger, and pain of sexual abuse gives voice to others dealing with their experience in secret.
      Please continue to visit the blog and share your story. God gave us the idea of this forum so we could walk people through each step of our journey in an effort to create an ongoing conversation as a path to healing for all those affected by this unnecessary evil.

  • africakg says:

    What advice would you give to a mother and father of a 10yr old boy who has been molested by older boys and an uncle? The 10yr old out of the blue confessed it to his mother and swore her to secrecy. She knows the names of the offenders but not the act in totality. She doesn’t wanna loose the 10yr olds trust by calling the authorties just yet because she is afraid he will shut down. But we both know something needs to be done and soon. My heart hurts deeply for these victims of sexual abuse.

    • kathyb says:

      I would tell the mom that she needs to explain to her son that 1) he didn’t do anything wrong and he is not responsible for what happened to him 2) reassure him that the people who hurt him need to be held accountable; not just for what they did to him, but also to prevent them from hurting anyone else 3) since he is adamant that she keep it a secret, he may have been threatened to believe the abusers would hurt him or someone he loves so she has to reassure him that he will be protected and so will she (or anyone else he is concerned about for that matter). This part is key too, because these types of things can divide a family and the child needs to KNOW that the parents are on his side no matter what, and if that ultimately means they have to disconnect from other family members, so be it…..and again, if that happens, he isn’t at fault.

      Getting him into counseling is also crucial so that he has a safe place to discuss what happened and someone who is skilled can begin to unravel the details. The authorities also need to be contacted. They will come out and take a report and start the process of investigating the matter. Please feel free to give her my contact info and I can explain how it worked for us and some of the things she can expect to happen initially and over time.

      Lastly, I’m not sure from your post if she has told dad or not. If she needs support doing that, please have her reach out to Richard and he can talk to her about it from a dad’s perspective. If she has told dad and dad needs support, he can reach out to Richard and he will support dad through the process.


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