I am the mother of an abused child. The disclosure took place in 1993, when she told about her dad-my husband. It was a very frightening time in our lives. We have spent the last 6 1/2 years in counseling, dad and daughter, mother and daughter, brother and sister, mother and father, family and most importantly, individually. We spent 3-4 times a week in counseling, and sometimes 2 times a day. My husband went to a men's group for perpetrators and I went to a mother's group- of abused children- to help me sort out my feelings and to help me cope We also went to a couples group of which we graduated after being in it for 5 years . If anyone thinks that splitting up the family and trying to get everyone healthy is difficult, try working on saving the individuals and the reuniting the family.
We worked with a very trained psychologist and other therapist who specialized in the treatment of sexual abusers and victims and their families. A regular therapist will sometimes help but not as much as those who specialize in this field. We were fortunate to have it all where we lived in Syracuse, New York . After my husband held himself accountable and faced his responsibility for his actions, faced and was charged with criminal charges, then the real work began.
Did our daughter have a confrontation meeting face to face to tell her dad exactly what she felt? You betcha. Was it very satisfying for her to have him listen and not have the opportunity to say a word or try and defend himself---it was like a dream come true. Was it very difficult for her to do-absolutely!! There were some very wonderful things that she loved about her dad, but they just happened to have been wiped out by the horror of the abuse.
She, of course did not want to go to counseling; the more difficult things got to face- the more she wanted to quit. I would not let her and I used the threat of jail for me--put on by the Family Court System--to make her go.. And that she did for the next 6 ' years. Believe you me-there is not a stronger person in the world now than our daughter. She is confident, brave in her decision making, she holds her head up high and just lives life to the fullest. She has stated many times that she is so very grateful for pushing her into counseling and for making her see it through.
After her dad came back home to live in 1997, there was much acting
out towards him. Was it a difficult time? yes indeed but very necessary
for her to get through this. Did her deserve it-yes and he took it
. The turning point in all of our lives- after the disclosure-and
it followed years later was" FORGIVENESS"--forgiveness by all. According
to our daughter, this was the catalyst that relinquished her
identity as only a victim and a survivor. This bestowed upon her-
the right to be a complete, healthy and happy human being. She loves
her dad very much and trusts him completely. She is so very
proud of the hard work her dad has done in counseling- that the most
important thing that she could say - when he
had graduated from the men's group- besides "I love you" was "Thank You."
Almost seven years of complete honesty, no secrets. Can this be too good to be true? If you had asked me that same question in 1993, I would have answered the same as the public sentiments would be--of course it is!!!. It will never happen. To have a daughter forgive her dad, to respect and love him again, to trust him, to have a wife forgive her husband, to have a son forgive the man who is still his hero, to live together as a family again is truly unthinkable.
But we have worked through it all -and we did it together- as a family. And we are proud!!! GOD BLESSED US!! HE GAVE US THE STRENGTH AND THE COURAGE TO CARRY ON WHEN WE WANTED TO QUIT. WE ARE INDISPUTABLY A FAMILY!!!
Editors Note: I know some will be upset and confused by the way the daughter was able to trust her father after he went through counseling. Please remember this is this family's story. Trust is something that has to be earned over time and proven, and whether or not you can ever trust your abusers or abusers of others will be unique to your story and the degree of healing in the life of the perpatrator. (And this doesn't mean you have to entrust a past abuser with the care of your children, ever.)