My daughter was sexually assualted a year ago and I just found out. I think she has also cut herself on occasion. This is a year old for her but new for me so I am having alot of emotions come up I don't know what to do with. Obviously I am going to get her into therapy because as much as she thinks she is fine, she isn't. I told her I love her no matter what but I also have doubts as to what really happened. How do I be patient and just wait for the answers to come? How do I constantly not worry about what she is doing now? She is only 15 so this happened at 14! Someone hurt my baby!!!
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Sarah - posted on 04/17/2011
I am so very sorry that this tragedy has happened to your daughter and to your family. Before I had my daughter, I worked as a rape crisis victim advocate- primarily I met girls and women at the hospital following a sexual assault. I know this is a terrible shock to you.
I'm sure you have many questions about why your daughter chose to wait so long to tell you and let me start by saying, be happy she trusts you enough to tell you ever. Secondly, it is extremely rare for women to fake or lie about a sexual assault. Undoubtedly she is not telling you all the details, but remember, they are hers to tell (and would knowing them really make you feel any better?). It is unfortunately very common for alcohol and/or drugs to be involved in a rape- something perpetrators bank on -knowing girls are less likely to come forward if they've been out partying. So it is possible that your daughter is not giving you the whole story b/c she is worried you will be upset, or dissappointed in her. I wouldn't push her on it if I were you.
As for her cutting herself, this is also a common symptom of rape or any extreme trauma as well as the resulting depression. You're doing the right thing by getting her (and you) counseling. I would contact your local rape crisis center- they are highly trained and most offer counseling free of charge to victims of violence. If your area doesn't have a rape crisis center, check out the domestic violence shelter, most will have someone dedicated to sexual assault. I recommend counseling to all victims, but especially if she is acting out (cutting herself) I would say she is in dire need of someone to talk to. Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are very common in rape victims and the sooner your address it, the better.
It sounds like you said the right things to her- knowing she has your unconditional love is so important to her right now. I would not push her for any more information- she will tell you if and when she is ready. You have to be understanding that she has gone through and is continuing to go through a terrible trauma. What she needs is love and suppport, you should be very honoured she chose to tell you! Worrying about what she is doing now is normal. Part of lessening that fear will come through getting her in counseling so they can help her channel her feelings into something more positive. It is an unfortunate truth that gone unchecked, depression can lead teens into making poor decisions. However, counseling and a supportive family are two Huge factors in negating the potential negative outbursts that can occur.
Now lets get down to some facts. Thankfully, your daughter was not impregnanted during the attack, however she still does need to be checked by a gynecologists ASAP. Ideally, we want victims to get a big dose of antibiotics within 72 hours following the rape to help curb the likelihood of STD infection. I'm guessing she didn't go to the hospital, which means it is possible that she has an STD. This needs to be addressed and the sooner the better. Most STD's can be cured with medicince and her likelihood of contracting something worse is very slim- less than 6% for HIV and potentially even less depending on the perpetrator. However, she needs to have a full work up including HIV testing to be sure. This is going to be traumatic for her. I would try to set her appointment for after her first few visits with the counselor and make sure to tell the counselor that this is going to happen so she can walk through the fears and apprehensions your daughter is going to have about the exam as well as to walk through the basics of what she can expect so that she can be somewhat prepared. She may want someone else in the room during the exam and this is normal and should be respected.
I know it is a lot to swallow all at once. Parents often feel overwhelmed, angry, confused, betrayed and quite frequently they feel like they have failed their daughters. It's so normal to have all/some of those emotions- if you weren't feeling that way, I would be concerned. I would strongly suggest that you get counseling yourself b/c this is going to be something that doesn't just go away and I believe that talking with someone who understands sexual assault thoroughly will help you understand what your daughter is going through and help you grasp the tools you need to get her through this terrible event. The best thing you can do for her is to let her make decisions and be in charge. Sexual assault takes away the sense of power from the victim and we should try to help them regain that power by making decisions for themselves and not pushing them.The goal is to go from victim to survivor and with the right tools it is attainable!!
If I can do anything else to help, please feel free to contact me directly!! I hope all the best for the both of you!
Maura - posted on 04/18/2011
Never let her think that you doubt her. And stop doubting her. Don't report unless she wants you to (80% of reported rapes don't lead to any charges; only 20% that go to trial get convicted; all of this adds extra trauma and should be the victim's decision. Don't tell other people/friends; it's her story not yours. Don't treat her differently. Just believe her, love her, and help her to navigate her life.
Rebekah - posted on 04/17/2011
I am so sorry that you and your daughter are having to deal with this! Its great that you are giving her counseling... a supportive environment to help her sort through what happened and find healthier ways to cope. I can only imagine what you are going through...I think I would nearly lose it if this happened to my child. What about counseling for you, too? I don't know where you live or what you have access to, but where I am there is an agency called Crime Victims Council that offers supportive services to both the victim and their families. Maybe there's a comparable agency where you are. It may help you to talk to a professional who is familiar with this kind of situation, to offer you guidance as far as how to help her and help keep yourself strong.
Access whatever you can to keep yourself healthy... exercise, yoga, journaling, time with friends/loved ones, music, relaxation exercises, whatever. In doing this, you will help yourself with your own feelings AND model healthy strategies that your daughter can do (or join you with) too.
Is the perpetrator still a threat? Is it something that needs to be reported to keep her/others safe?
I don't know that we, as moms, will ever stop worrying about our kids. Especially in times when we see them hurting. Perhaps set up some kind of contract with her (create it cooperatively) that will help keep the lines of communication open between you, and to reinforce that she can come to you if she is having thoughts to harm herself. Definitely make an effort to spend regular time together.
Blessings to you...
Vegemite - posted on 04/17/2011
This happened to me and my sister when i was 9 and she was 15. A man drugged us and sexually assaulted us. My parents filed a police report for my sister and he was charged. My mother told me that I was too young and nobody would want to listen to me and forgot about it. As a teenager I was rebellious and got into all sorts of trouble and was in and out of home from the age 13. My parents wondered what was wrong with me and why i would never tell them anything. I didn't see why I should tell them anything else after the way they treated me. As I got older i realised it was all my mother's doing and to this day I resent my mother and we have a very cold and formal relationship. I forgave my Dad and her but will never trust her with anything ever.
The best thing you can do is make sure you pay attention to everything she tells you and act according to what she says. Don't force her to talk to someone else and let her know she can tell you anything without judgement or you taking control. Then she'll be open to the help you have to offer.
Sarah - posted on 04/18/2011
I completely agree witn Maura- it is her decision whether or not she wishes to pursue police involvement you cannot and should not force her to press charges if she doesn't want to. The statistics are very grim for convictions in sexual assaults, especially when looking at a case such as hers in which the reporting date would be so long after the assault itself.
JuLeah - posted on 04/18/2011
Assure her she is not alone. 4 out of 5 women deal with this. Assre her it was not her fault, no matter what happened. She said No, was too frightened to say No, or for some reason unable, BUT, it was not her fault. She has nothing to be embarressd or ashamed about, those feelings belong to him, not her.
Glad she finally told you and YES, get her help. The cutting will only get worse. Let get give details as they come, don't push, just be there. Believe her. Find support for yourself, so you can be what she needs you to be. If she thinks she is putting too much on you with her story, she will stop talking. Make sure she knows you can handle whatever she says. Let your anger out in a way that is healthy, find support for yourself and someone you can talk with, You need help as much as she does
Louise - posted on 04/18/2011
How did this manifest. How did you find out? This is a major event in anyones life how could she keep this to herself for so long and you not notice. I think therapy is a good start to get to the bottom of all this, she must be like a coiled spring inside waiting to unload. Now she has told you, you can begin to help her by being supportive. Do you know who hurt her? If so report it so that it does not happen again to another child. She has done an amazing job of hiding this so long, bringing back those raw emotions she has buried is going to be hard for her so surround her with loving arms and give her support. I think also some therapy for you would be benefical because as a mum I am sure you are asking your self why you did not pick up on this. It is not your fault, and you need to get your head around this, to help your daughter you need to help yourself first. Good luck to both of you it will be a long journey but you will make it together.
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