A Letter to Other Parents Dealing with Child Sexual Assault...... I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. (Booker T. Washington)
Resentment is Like Drinking Poison & Then Expecting Someone Else to Die...
When all else has failed - this song has given me laughter and a SMILE in my life - So for our perpetrator - I WILL PRAY FOR YOU....
I am just a mother of two beautiful children on a mission! I was one of those parents who thought this type of thing would "never happen to me." I mean, if you can't trust your own family, who can you trust, right? WRONG!!! Our perpetrator stole 3 years of my daughterís innocence, trust and childhood. I know how hard it is to comprehend HOW or WHY anyone would hurt our innocent children but, the reality is THEY DO. I have spent many hours working, speaking and researching --hoping & praying to educate just ONE MORE PERSON--Because, for each new member educated on child abuse, is yet another chance of possibly saving an innocent child. My goal is to help educate others based on my own personal experiences, extensive research and firsthand knowledge of the turmoil, trauma and life-long effects abuse can have on your life. Educate Yourself---Learn The Facts The knowledge gained will last you a lifetime. It could just save a child's life! TOGETHER WE "CAN" MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
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18 months ago, with the disclosure of the sexual abuse of my young daughter, I came as close to ďliving hellĒ as Iíd ever care to embark.
We have been to the bottom, risen up and been pushed back down again as weíve cycled our way through recovery. Yes, each step along this journey has made me stronger; itís definitely given me thicker skin and a new view on life and people in general. None of it has been easy and Iíve lost many meaningful relationships along the way.
Has it been worth it; this fight, this journey?
Most definitely. My children are the ultimate gifts that God has entrusted into my care.
So as a parent, a secondary victim to child sexual assault (CSA), how do we survive, let go, move forward and begin to thrive again?
That has been my greatest challenge.
It seems as though the moment I have it ďall figured outĒ and life begins to move in a positive direction, I step on a new land mine and Iím back at square one yet again.
This time, the day after our first steps towards closure in our civil case, I have more tools and resources but I hurt all the same and old emotions of pain, anger, and frustration rage.
I realize, desire or not, I have been called to take this journey and I have to trust the future isnít limited by what I see right now. That there is so much more waiting out there for me.
I understand that the joy in life isnít guaranteed. I realize there will be typical ups and downs and these events are what makes the journey exciting and worth experiencing. I definitely, from the first wail from my daughterís determined lungs, knew child rearing wouldnít be easy Ė even with 1 million books of advice available to help me along each milestone.
Yet, never in my wildest dreams or nightmares, was I able to prepare for the deep grief that CSA brought into my familyís or my life. No one can coach us on how to deal with a pain that shatters a heart so deeply. Those who casually say ďArenít you over that yet?Ē donít understand.
This much I will tell you about grief from CSA: If there was ever a second, or a moment, when you suspected or knew you had been betrayed at the deepest level by someone you adored and a splintering pain began to shred your heart, turn your world grimly unbearable to a point where you would consciously choose denial and ignorance about the betrayal rather than feel this wayÖthat is one-millionth of what it feels like at the moment of disclosure.
On May 1st, at my daughterís disclosure, I felt a searing pain in my heart. It was physical Ė I swear it was. I knew, as this twist of life brought me to my knees, that the path I was about to walk, I had to walk alone. There are sometimes places in our lives that weíre called to go alone. During this struggle, Iíve found that people can surround me, call me, and offer support. But the journey I am on is solely and uniquely mine. People can watch me, they can reach out to me, and even say they know how it feels (as I say to you). But the world of grief Iím in is mine and mine alone.
Slowly, with the passage of time, as I walk this path that life has thrust me on, I have begun to see the outline of a few faces Ė way out in the distance, waving to me, cheering me on.
If you are called to enter this world of CSA, there is no turning back. We are not allowed to refuse that call. It is like nothing else, with the possible exception of the pounding waves of the ocean. To the untrained casual eye, each wave looks the same. It is not. No two are the same. And each one washes away the old, and washes in the new.
As I examine, the up and down, emotional, inner-turmoil Iíve been struggling with recently, Iím reminded of the tug-of-war game I play with our new puppy. She has a long, blue, rope doll she loves. She brings it to me with her tail wagging.
I pull it out of her mouth. She grabs hold again and shakes and shakes and says grrrrrr. The harder I tug, the harder the puppy pulls. Finally, I just let go. Then she comes right back again, for more.
I guess what Iím trying to say here is I have never successfully treated or solved one problem in my life by obsessing or controlling. Iíve yet to accomplish anything by worrying. And manipulation has not wrought one successful outcome. The best possible outcomes seem to happen when I let go. That doesnít always mean I get my way. But things work out and, ultimately, the lesson becomes clear.
Itís just with my type-A controlling personality I forget that from time to time.
As a parent dealing with the aftermath of child sexual assault, I forget there are so very many things that are outside of my realm of control. I want to continue to cling to the past and the way it used to be Ė because itís comforting and comfortable. I want to believe in the legal system the way I believe it should be and should function.
Unfortunately, there are certain events that we may never be able to accept fully. What can be accepted, though, is that we are required to live with this pain, hurt and loss and find a way to move on. I have to remember itís okay to let myself have all of the emotions and feelings about losing people and moments I loved and cherished. Itís okay to grieve and be as sad as I need to. Itís okay to stop waiting for and expecting total acceptance of the unthinkable in my life.
But, hereís been the hardest part for meÖ.THEN, I need to let the feelings and the past go. I canít continue to let those memories stop me from healing; stop me from seeing how beautiful and precious each moment in my life is now.
There seem to be many days that I have to remind myself to stop asking Why but rather ask What the lesson is.
I guess this is all a part of being a ďwork in progressĒ.
Through disclosure, life as I had known it disappeared. The one question I have continually asked myself over the last 18 months is: How many times do I have to start over? The answer for me: As many times as life as I know it ends. Allowing the old to fade away as the new begins.
I donít know why Iíve received some of the blessing Iíve been given; I donít know why some of the sorrow has come my way. All I can do is trust that whatever comes my way, thereís a lesson at hand. I didnít bargain for this but my spiritual journey has begun. Iíve surrendered to the experience and I do believe something as broken and scraggly as I am right now can be brought back to life again.
The first step to acceptance, healing and recovery is the hardest. Sometimes itís the second step that gets you. Getting information, support, and encouragement is helpful. Necessary too. But life is meant to be lived.
What I can honestly say to you is: ďItís going to be difficult, harder than you can imagine. Itíll take time. But you can do it! Youíll come through.Ē
No matter what path youíre on, others have walked it before you, and some will follow you there. Each step you take is uniquely yours, but you are never, never alone! While many experiences are isolated and uniquely ours, weíre simultaneously part of a collective force. What we go through and what we do matters Ė sometimes much more than we know. I guess thatís my reason for sharing with you today.
So take that first step no matter how difficult. Know there are others here who can help you along your journey Ė be strong for you and your child. Donít let the perpetrator win!
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