The Benefits of Therapy


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……Getting Your Paperwork In Order

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The Plea Bargain


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 find 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 weren’t tarnished and they didn’t have to deal with the uncertainty of a trial.

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