The Abuser Is Being Released; 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

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