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Sexual Abuse & Trauma
Please Note! BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and has moved to a new website: BerkeleyParentsNetwork.org
I got married when I was 19 to a charismatic young man who ended up being emotionally abusive and an alcoholic. We had four kids together and stayed together for nearly 16 years until I had the strength to get out of the dysfunctional relationship. He would spend time with our children going to the park and doing outdoor activities, however he was like a kid himself and couldn't manage money or be relied on to care for the basic needs and demands of children and child rearing. He would hang out with his buddies and often take our children along with him when he'd visit his immature friends. My oldest daughter lives out of state and is in her senior year of college. She is a high academic achiever but had a tumultuous few teen years with depression, eating disorders and drug abuse, etc. I have supported her through every peak and valley as a single parent. Her father contributed literally nothing (time or money ) after our divorce. Though I have been the soul provider and my daughter relies on me for financial and emotional support she never says, ''thank you'' or even shows remote appreciation. This always hurts my feelings and she acts defensive when I mention it.
I recently found out from her sister that she was abused by one of her father's ''buddies'' and she apparently hates me, resents me for being with such a loser and not protecting her from what he subjected her to. She hates that I was so weak and stayed with him for so long. I had no idea! I guess since I was such a naive parent myself I wasn't even tuned into the possibility that his friends might abuse her. I feel sickened,ashamed and so sad. I don't know what to say to her as she has kept this a secret her whole life. She is now 25 and I have been divorced for 13 years. Her entitled and ungrateful behavior towards me now makes sense. Where do I begin the healing process. I feel like shit knowing her pain was caused by my lack of judgement and negligence. Sad Mama
I did blame her for keeping us in such a horrible situation, and felt she did nothing to create a healthier home, especially since at age 5 I was telling her to divorce my dad, or kill myself - I was that miserable. I ended up being abused as well sexually by a male babysitter.
I think the best thing you can do for your daughter, during this pivotal time in her life, is to relish in her achievements, although you may have made it possible for her to accomplish her goals, what she needs is emotional reconciliation. Basically there is no price for being abused, and I am absolutely NOT saying that is your fault, in anyway. You did end the marriage and get out of a negative situation! However, how she sees it is, you were her only protector, her only chance to have a decent childhood.
Since her childhood is over, all you can do is put the hurt feelings aside, and let her go through her process and love and support her the entire way. I'm not saying to allow her to abuse you, but definitely not take anything personally. Accept responsibility for making a poor decision with whom you decided to have children with, but how proud you are of her for making better choices!
You should offer her the book, ''the Courage to Heal'', and you should read the book, ''allies in Healing'', offer to work with her to ''get her through'' the pain and anger she is feeling. I am willing to bet that she feels a lot of guilt for being angry with you at all, and has a lot of shame for placing any blame on you, but that reality is buried deep right now and I highly doubt she can really articulate all that is going on inside except for explicit anger and blame.
Remember that all things can heal, and heal much easier and efficiently with love and support and your relationship can develop into a strong and loving bond. You've had to struggle with a lot and it would probably be very helpful for you to seek guidance from a therapist. Sometimes, just knowing how much someone is trying to walk beside you in your time of need can make all the difference! Best of luck to you and your children empathetic
Myself, I was abused sexually as a child and it's hard to understand how or why, but I never talked about it until I was in my 30's! It's wasn't something that I didn't remember, it was something that happened on a parallel plane to my life - the two didn't merge until I was 30. Hope this helps you to understand how your daughter could have suppressed or repressed feelings about it (it's a HARD thing to go through and live with) until now. Please be patient and I think you're on the right track asking here. Good luck! been there
just as an aside, it's pretty healthy for her to be mad at you. so, while it sucks for you, at least some part of her has enough self-worth to know she deserved better than she got. (and the fact she's mad at you and not her dad is telling- she expects more from you, even though it sounds like her dad was the much worse parent.) you may want to go seek some counseling for your own benefit, to help you sort out your feelings of guilt. because really, the guilt won't help either of you long-term... anon
My advice? I don't know if you are in therapy, but I would recommend this to you. Your daughter would appreciate it if you at least tried to look at your part in this, which is not to say that you're to blame. She needs to hear that you wish you could have been there for her, without making excuses. She needs to hear that you are there for her now and willing to listen to whatever she has to say to you. She is in a lot of pain, and she needs her Mommy. Best of luck to you both. Been There
My 18-year-old daughter was sexually molested by her adoptive father. When I learned what was going on, I threw him out and filed for divorce. With therapy, my daughter has begun to heal, but she still suffers from free-floating anxiety, dreams that lead to sleeplessness, inability to focus on her studies, and depression. She also smokes pot more than once a week. I am looking for a therapist to work with her who has experience with sexual molestation and PTSD issues. East Bay preferred. Anonymous
I'm hoping to find a therapist who has extensive experience dealing with childhood sexual abuse, childhood trauma, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am also very interested in someone who utilizes EMDR. It's time to deal with some issues that are affecting my adult relationships. A male or female therapist is fine, but I think a male might be best since I need to learn how to develop trust with men. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. It's time to move, learn how to be happy, and get the most out of life...Thank you. Ruby
Can someone recommend a female Hakomi therapist that works in the East Bay? If you have a recommendation for a mindful therapist that uses other methods that would be great too. I am looking for someone who has experience working with women who survived sexual trauma. Thanks, having emotional hard time
I found out recently that my 15 year old daughter was molested by my Dad several years ago. She had been acting out a lot, so I knew that there was something going on, but I didn't know what it was until she disclosed this information to her psychiatrist. It has been very hard for all of us to deal with this and I wanted to ask for some specific help. Is there anybody on this list in law enforcement? Could you help me to know what actions we can take? I would like to nail my Dad for this, but my daughter does not want to report it to the Sheriff's office (he lives in an area not covered by the police department). CPS took a report from the psychiatrist, but all they did was to interview her and me and then close the case and refer it to the Sheriff's office (and they did nothing). If willing, please provide contact information in your reply. Thanks. BTW - My Dad did not molest me, but his Dad did. anon
You mentioned that your daughter is seeing a psychiatrist, which is great, but if she's only being prescribed medication rather than psychotherapy she should be receiving psychotherapy as well, since sexual abuse by a family member is so devastating -- and please consider therapy for yourself as well. You could call the Alameda County District Attorney's office for more information about the Victims of Crime program and a list of therapists who accept this funding.
Clearwater Counseling and Assessment Services, at 510-596-8137, would be able to help you apply for Victims of Crime services and provide psychotherapy. The website is www.clearwaterclinic.com Sally Francis, Ph.D.
Eventually my father was told and eventually he took me to the police department of the town where the crime took place. The assistant district attorney of the county became my newest acquaintance as we got ready to go to court after pressing charges. To make a long and VERY emotional story short. I went to court to testify against the molester. I had to repeat my story for the umpteenth time, this time in front of a court room filled with people, including fellow students from my temple since a letter had been sent out by the Rabbi asking if any other children had been victims (I understand a boy was also molested).
While I knew I was going to court to, hopefully, prevent him from hurting others, it was one of the MOST awful experiences of my life. Looking back on everything, I honestly can't remember if I was given a choice. If I had to do things over I would have refused to go to court. Pressing charges & going to trial is a very long, drawn out process. It keeps the wound open that much longer. I know you are beyond angry about what your father did to your daughter. But, I don't know if 'nailing him' is in your daughter's best interest. I ended up doing a lot of irrational, dramatic and self destructive stuff in my young adulthood. Yes, I did go through therapy. I was never afraid of men and never entered into any abusive relationships. But I finally became a whole, happy and grounded woman only after becoming pregnant about 4 years ago.
I am 40 and I am a completely normal woman now, but I look at my young adulthood with regret. If possible, I would like my email address passed onto you thru the moderator instead of posting it publicly. My 2 Cents
Another question I had was whether you daughter has seen a therapist who specializes in trauma. This is an area I specialize in myself using EMDR as a treatment. If you are interested in learning more about this kind of approach, go to www.emdria.org . There is also another approach called Somatic Trauma Therapy that can be very helpful. This situation sounds like it must be very upsetting for your family. I hope that you and your daughter are eventually able to eventually find some peace with this. Ivan
There's a website I highly recommend for both survivors and their families, it's isurvive.org and it is a moderated forum. You will find a lot of compassionate help there survivor
But consider carefully whether this is the best thing for your daughter. A prosecution could take several years to finish and be traumatic for her. Trials are often an unsatisfying ''he said, she said'' contest. There could be publicity-- there could be negative reaction within the family against her. Is your father penitent-- does he want to apologize? Has he had counseling? Have YOU had counseling to deal with your own abuse? Have you talked about it with your daughter's counselor? anonymous
CPS took a report. That or contacting police or sheriff and then CPS is the correct first step. Despite your daughter's feelings on this, you should have him charged. I didn't do this in my case and I have always regretted that he got away with it and maybe forced some other young girl to have sex before she was ready.
Laws. California Penal Codes 11165 defines a child as under the age of 18. 11165.1 defines sexual abuse; sexual assault; sexual exploitation. 11165.6 and following cover Child Abuse or Neglect and the role of the mandated reporter. You have done the mandated reporting and a report has been taken and turned over the sheriff. I think the sheriff now needs you to ask that the offender be arrested. Explain to your daughter that this could happen to other girls and does frequently. I think it is about 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. We women need to band together and take these guys out of circulation.
Pen. Code 1203.1g covers Sexual assault of a child, restitution. Code 1000.12 and following covers Abuse and neglect counseling.
Feel free to email me for moral support and I will talk with my Lt. about it today (6/1) and get his take on procedure
i was sexually abused by my step-father as a child and while the topic has come up periodically throughout the years it has recently come to a head once again. while i have tried to come to some resolution over the years it has never been settled which i now believe is due to the fact that my mother is still with this person. he admitted to something years ago, but turns out that details were spared and my mother thought it was a lesser infraction than it actually was. he has now admitted to more after my mother asked for details and i pushed the issue.
so, my question to others who may have gone through this is how you handled the situation. i am finally beginning to find the strength that i lacked over the years and have told my mother that i could not have contact with her while she is still with this person. she claims that it only happened once with me years ago, that he's a good man and that she has spent so many years with him that she can't imagine him having to start over at his age. while she does feel bad, tells me she loves me and my kids, and seems symapthetic to my situation she chooses to stay with this individual. i am at a loss of comprehension as to how she can do this. if someone abused my children they would not be any part of my life.
this has been tremedously difficult for me, and i'm heartbroken over having to stand my ground, yet feel that i'm doing the right thing for my kids. a few family members have asked why i can't just have limited contact with her, yet it seems that i am then having a fake or partial relationship while having to choose which parts of her life to share with my children. if she does decide to leave him as a result of my actions i am afraid that i will then feel liable for her happiness.
i am not entirely sure how similar a situation people may have experienced but would love to hear their advice or recommendations. i think that if it weren't for my children i would just continue to coast but because of them i know that i need to handle this situation responsibly and with my family's well being in mind. anonymous
I think denial is the norm, explaining possibly why your mom is handling it the way she is. That does not mean it is okay. I have noticed both my mom and stepmom in different levels of denial over the years. The stronger I got and the clearer I set my boundaries, the more it helped. I also think it is appropriate to tell your mom the whole story, if you have not already done so. You have a right not to keep this secret and your mom should know what he did, especillay since she is still with him. No matter how ''wonderful'' she thinks he is, he committed a horrible crime against a child and that is not a small thing.
Re: a limited relationship with your mom. I think it could be possible if that is what you want. I think it is fine to have her visit you or your kids while saying step-grandpa is not invited. Explain to them in age-appropriate terms that he is .not a good person with kids, was not a good dad to you when you were little, etc. I have explained to my own daughter that my dad was not a good dad, that he did some bad things, and that is why we don't have contact with him. I will probably share more when I feel she is ready (an adult, maybe).
I don't know if any of this helps. Please know you are not alone, it was not your fault, and in my opinion, you have a total right to cut your mom off if that is what feels right to you. survivor mama
It's a forum for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and it has been a lifesaver for me.
My heart goes out to you. It must be really hard for you and your feelings are probably even sharper now that your children are the age, possibly, that you were when your abuse occurred.
Safe hugs to you. survivor
I think you have to ask yourself what it is you really want and why. It does not sound as if either of your solutions will really meet your needs, yet you are trying to find reasons outside of yourself for taking the position you are taking. Perhaps they are not the real reasons?
For example, how does it make you a better parent to stand your ground and refuse to have a relationship with your mother if she does not leave this man, as opposed to standing your ground and refusing to have a relationship with this man and having a relationship with you mother without him?
You were hurt by this person in the worst way. Perhaps you feel that your mother is betraying you by staying with the person that abused you. I know I would. I also know I would leave someone immediately if I found out they were abusing my children. Would I if I found out they had abused my children 15 years ago? I think I would, but I don't know for sure. Denial is a strong condition. And who knows what he has told her. You are expecting your mother to give up her companionship in exchange for what? Can you fill her needs? Will it cause her financial hardship? Loneliness? Other hardship? I think there is a lot going on for her and it must be very hard and very painful.
Perhaps by trying to take your mother away from him, you are trying to punish him for hurting you? Has this person shown any remorse? Has he apologized to you?
Have you considered filing charges? I don't even know if that is possible, but I would want to make sure he isn't hurting other children.
In short, figure out what it is that you want and need. Then perhaps the way to accomplish it will be clearer. anon
Hi. I've been with my current therapist for 3 years now. He's wonderful and I've benefited greatly from working with him. However, I've come to a point in my recovery where I need to work on my childhood and adult sexual abuse history. I'm looking for a group setting instead of individual therapy because I feel I would benefit greatly from being with a group of women who have had similar experiences and the group is being guided by a therapist. The only problems that I have encountered while researching this is: A. A therapist that does offer a group for sexual abuse survivors B. A therapist that will take health insurance for a group or has a sliding scale fee I've contacted the rape crisis center, Dr. Brenna Stien (she has a group but doesn't take insurance and I can't afford her rates), JFK Holistic center, Highland Hospital, my health insurance, etc. and I haven't found anyone or anything yet. I have gone to several slaa meetings including slaa meetings for sexual anorexic's and didn't feel comfortable in either meeting format(s). If anyone on this list knows someone that offers such a group and takes blue cross hmo, or has low fee group, please pass their information on. anon
My little sister has been molested at least three times and been on the verge of getting raped (seriously) about 10 times (including yesterday! I don't know what to do and what advice to give her. I have heard that women who have been molested/raped are more likely to have a similar experience again but I have no idea why or how. She is 17 and feels like she has a ''rape me'' sign on her. Also, what ways can she heal? She has had therapy and continues to go with some success but something else is necessary also. Also, two of her attackers from an incident 10 years ago go to school with her and every once in a while they will make a comment like ''remember that time . . .'' or try to touch her or hug her which of course puts her in a very awkward situation. She doesn't want to press charges (for fear of her safety) and she doesn't want to change schools (for fear of not being able to play varsity sports). I feel like my hands are tied. how do we heal?
This class has had powerful and far-reaching effects on my life. I've learned very practical skills; how to recognize the signs of a potential attack, how to de-escalate an attack situation, and how to defend myself in the case of a verbal, physical, and/or sexual attack. But the most important change has been in my confidence. I now KNOW that I can protect myself. I used to work until 10 or 11pm in SF, and then commute by BART to my station in the East Bay, and then walk to my car across the parking lot. Before taking the class, I would nervously walk across the lot, thinking, ''Oh God, what would I do if someone grabbed me? or put a gun to my back? I would just freeze. I would have no idea what to do.'' But now I know exactly what to do. And I have actually successfully used my skills a couple of times since we finished the course!! The feeling of satisfaction that I got from being fully able to take care of myself and get myself out of a dangerous situation was one of the most empowering and proud moments of my life. I wish I had taken this course as a teenager. It would have been a tremendous help to me.
Impact Bay Area offer several classes pertinent to your sister's situation; a Boundaries class, a Basics class, and a Multiple Assailants class. We took the Basics class, and then I went on to take a Weapons class (in the case that the assailant is armed).
The Basics course covers the emotional, mental and physical aspects of self-defense. They teach full-force self-defense in an extremely supportive environment. This class proved to be very healing for all of us. And it's fun! I keep a picture of the women from my class up on my refrigerator and look at it all the time, very grateful to have come across this amazing group of people, and very grateful for my new skills.
I highly recommend this course for you, your sister, and anyone, any age, any gender, who would like to better protect themselves from violence. Check out the website. I'm so glad I did! Caitlin
I think something like this might help your sister. Toward the end of the course, we each designed our own scenario to role play with the model mugger. Your sister could enact a scenario where one of her past abusers tries to touch her, and the group could help her figure out what to do - and, most importantly, she could actually do it in the role play. I think that would empower her in real life.
I did an Internet search and there is a Bay Area chapter (http://www.bamm.org/). If the people there are as wonderful as the people in the Boston chapter, they will (I hope) be able to help your sister. In fact, for all mothers of teenage daughters out there, I would HIGHLY recommend sending your daughters to this class. cc
I think it's great that you are there for her to talk to. It's obvious from your post that you love her very much and it's very telling how much she trusts you by confiding in you how she is feeling. It is very important to listen as much as you can to your sister and ask her how she would like you to support her. Maybe it's just by listening, maybe it's by referring her to an appropriate service, maybe strategies on how to re-establishing safety at school, whatever her needs are, really taking her lead and finding out from her what she would like the next steps to be.
Another strategy that might be useful might be having a person to talk other than you or her therapist, like a hotline, there are a couple in the Bay Area that are specifically for youth and/or survivors of sexual assault. San Francisco Women Against Rape Crisis Line (415) 647-7273, and Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR)(510) 845-7273.
Also, when someone we love is sexually assaulted, family members of the survivor needs support too. I would encourage you to receive support by calling the support lines I mentioned. They will probably have referrals of support for loved one's of survivors.
I really encourage you to continue talking to your sister and help her navigate the support she needs. Remind her that it is not her fault, she does not have a rape sign anywhere on her, and no one has the right to violate her. She has a right to be safe at school and at home. She has a right to not be violated and perpatrated at school.
Also, try to know your limits. Active listening is hard work, be supportive but don't take too much on. It's important to try to establish a network of support, through trusted family, friends, therapists, clergy, support groups, etc., so you are able to take care of yourself and maybe take a break from being the main support for you sister. Again, I strongly encourage your sister to access support for survivors of sexual abuse.
Your both in my thoughts. rebecca
Your sister needs to educate herself so she can protect herself. She can call the sex crimes unit at the police department and find out about their resources. Have these past 10 rape attempts been by the same boys? Are any of them over 18? YOu say she doesn't want to press charges in fear for her safety. But she is already in fear and her safety is in grave danger of another attack if she does not take action. It is more than likely that these same boys have raped or attempted to rape other girls at her school. anon
**Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR) http://www.fembot.com/content/orgs/BAWAR.shtml
**Generation Five http://www.generationfive.org/
If your sister is interested, being a part of a support group for women who have been sexually abused can be quite useful. I know the Berkeley Free Clinic had a group of this nature some time ago and I'm sure you can find other places that run groups. Also, finding a good fit in terms of a therapist-client relationship can take some time and several attempts at interviewing therapists.
The Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley (http://www.tpi- berkeley.org/) or the Psychological Services Center of Alliant International University/CSPP (http://www.alliant.edu/sfbay/psc.htm) might also be helpful. Anon
I'm wondering if anyone has some advice on navigating the difficult times of parenting when you weren't parented well? I was severely abused as a child (sexual, emotional, physical) to the point of running away when I was eighteen to escape and having to change my name and move around to keep safe. I've had over ten+ years of individual therapy and am very functional now. I'm not living my trauma on a day to day basis as is the case when one is in the early stages of recovering. I feel like I'm doing a good job of parenting in a way that is kind, respectful, and loving (I've learned this from re-parenting myself). Having a mindfulness practice (however erratic it is now with a 12 month old) sure helps. But more and more I feel out of my league now that my daughter is older and assserting her will. I have to do so much work when the urge to yell at her or be rough with her physically comes up. Sometimes to keep myself from getting angry at her I distance myself emotionally, but I know this isn't good for her either (and my own mother was very emotionally distant most of the time, so it's what I'm most familiar with). Both my partner and I are under quite a bit of psycho-social stress (financial worries, both finishing graduate school). I'm not looking for another therapist. Does anyone know if there are any support groups for parents who were abused as children--where it's possible to share about the emotional struggles that are unique to our situation in addition to all the typical things like where are the best parks, etc? If there isn't such a group, is there anyone who would be interested in forming one? Struggling mama in Alameda
I checked the archives for advice on this topic and did find a number for BAWAR- which I passed on, but I am very appreciative of any other resources that you may know about it. Yesterday, my friend (housekeeper, who I consider a friend) found out that her 13 year old daughter has been sexually abused by her (the friend's) nephew (which makes the daughter and nephew cousins). Her nephew (age 25) was living in the apartment behind her house with his wife and baby. My friend is devasted by this- as any parent would be. She isn't sure she wants to press charges as the abuser is her nephew (I hope a therapist or counselor can help her see why she must despite him being family). What resources are available to her and her daughter (and family- total of 4 kids)? Any recommendations of Spanish speaking counselors/resources are especially helpful. (She took her daughter to a clinic where she saw a dr and will, hopefully, receive follow-up care). Why does this happen??
A good resource for counseling for your friend's daughter and for your friend is La Cheim Children and Family Services, which has an outpatient clinic in Oakland.
Your friend should also insist through every means available to her that her nephew go to a sex-specific treatment provider for an evaluation and treatment. Most likely your friend's daughter is not the first child he has molested (and without effective treatment, most likely not the last) and this is probably something he has been struggling with since he was a teenager or even younger. Treatment is not ''going easy'' on the abuser, it is what protects other children. Treatment from a sex-specific therapist has been found to be 88% effective with those who sexually abuse children. Insisting on effective treatment for known abusers is a crucially important step toward further prevention. Many abusers and their families have no idea that there is now treatment available that can help them.
I hope your friend will insist on an evaluation and treatment from a sex-specific therapist regardless of whether her nephew is ultimately prosecuted through the criminal justice system or not. More information about sex-specific treatment providers including a list of providers in California (and nationally) can be found at http://www.childmolestationprevention.org/pages/resources.html
For a thorough understanding of what causes molestation and what families and communities can do to stop it, I recommend ''The Stop Child Molestation Book: What Ordinary People Can Do In Their Everyday Lives To Save Three Million children'' by Gene G. Abel, M.D. and Nora Harlow. This book may be ordered through www.childmolestationprevention.org, www.amazon.com, or special ordered through any bookstore.
A few more good resources: Stop It Now helpline: 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368). The STOP IT NOW! Helpline is a toll-free number for adults who are at risk for sexually abusing a child, for friends and family members of sexual abusers and/or victims, and for parents of children with sexual behavior problems. This helpline service is confidential, available Monday through Friday, 9:00AM-5:00PM (EST) at 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368). www.stopitnow.org Another good website with lots of information and resources is Darkness to Light at www.darkness2light.org
A man I know was sexually abused as a child, and needs a therapist to help him work through related issues. He also seems to have other psychological problems and may have underlying biochemical imbalance/organic disease. Can anyone recommend a male therapist who they think would be talented in handling past sexual abuse issues in a troubled man? Thanks.
I am writing in for a dear friend of mine who desperately needs to start seeing a therapist to help her deal with the lingering effects of having been sexually molested by her father while she was growing up. She thought she had dealt with all of the issues- but mainly ignored the problem because her dad was out of her life for many years. He is now back in her life and she is realizing that she actually has a lot to deal with- and wants to deal with the issues before she starts having children of her own. She would prefer to see someone who will not insist on confronting her father as the only solution. Oakland/Berkeley therapists are ideal. Thanks for any recommendations you can offer.
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