Being the mother of a sexually assaulted child was not some thing I had ever planned for. I felt so alone and out of my depth every day with her. The issues I had anticipated were not issues at all and so many more came into play which I had not thought of. How was I going to cope, I had no friends who had ever been through this, no special groups to join ,no daily advice. All I could do was research and try different strategies and speak to my psychologist and hers. I had never felt so out of control ,and treading water in the deep as I did now. So many aspects of her demeanor and personality had shifted and felt I didn’t even know my own daughter any more, or how the hell to help her. When I wasn’t emotion coaching her through a major tantrum I was crying alone somewhere in our house, the kitchen, the bedroom the bathroom. The tears were sudden and like an avalanche. Unabated and uncontrollable.
Most days I felt helpless and scared,like I’d say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing by her, when she needed me the most. I had no mother myself to confide in now either, no one to turn to and get advice any time of the day. I just had to cope, for her, I would cope I would be strong. I would fight for her.
I had struggled sometimes as a mother, but I had mothers groups, friends and family I could always turn to, now I had nothing, I was alone and I felt for the first time as a mother totally helpless.
So many parts of her life were affected now, so many aspects I had not foreseen at all. Social issues at school were just the minor beginning. She didn’t sleep. Came to me throughout the night crying because of night mares. I was exhausted.
Getting her to bed was a nightmare, she was 6 this was supposed to be easy. Firstly she would not want to go to bed, screamed and ran away from us, even with warnings to bed time, count downs and two choices of something along the way, she resisted at all costs, her psychologist said because she did not want to be still, to stop, to lie down, because then her thoughts of her abuse would come. She had become hyperactive between the hours of 5pm and 7pm every night. When we did get her to bed ,She cried most nights said she was angry because of what “pops had done to her”,we would talk, I would hold her, tell her she was brave, smart and beautiful and to think of things that made her happy, her favourite things in life.
Sometimes we would get paper and she would draw something that made her angry we would pin it to the wall and smash the basket ball against it over and over for her to vent. Mostly it was a picture of him, my own father, her abuser, and I hated him. I would leave. She would cry some more then end up asleep in our bed while we watched Tv. This was progression from the couch where she used to fall asleep first at least where we were watching Tv. Every night was hell, the tears , the anger the frustration as a mother and the exhaustion mixed into guilt a horrible concoction. Months went by like this.
Then came the constant clash with her older sisters, she could not tolerate them telling her to do any thing ,even something to keep her safe, she hated being controlled. Normal I was told by her therapist, after she had been controlled by an older person an abuser for two years.
Our discipline had to change too, I was advised to do attachment discipline, something so foreign to me, to give her the option of staying with her when she had reached her 3 and been sent to her room. I had to be there, I had to sit near her if she wanted to talk, even if I was angry.
She stopped watching movies or television at all, which was hard, for months she just walked away and started whining for something she wanted , even if I sat with her. She would not be still. Her therapist said it was classic symptom of abuse, she could not be still because then she would think about things. The same went for drawing or independent play, these things ceased altogether for about 10 months, she would not draw and would not play because nothing was “right” she felt flawed in any thing she tried to do. She had negative programmed thoughts about her capabilities now because of him, she felt guilt, blame and inferiority because of her abuse,she felt she could not do any thing right.
We bought a huge trampoline for her to vent her anger on, it helped. Some days she would just through herself against the net time and time again and yell.
Then came the eating issues, when after months of trying we did finally get her to sit and watch Tv she would whine for food, even if she had just had a large meal. She had the constant need to eat something . She would sit for ages picking at little bits of anything any snack because it gave her something to focus on. Emotional eating had started and food became our battle for hours at a time.She needed something to focus on even on the couch.
I felt like I was constantly guessing as to what had happened to her, where and when she had been abused. Questions haunted me on a daily basis. Had he abused her on a couch watching Tv ? I would never know the answers to these haunting questions as I navigated my way through this parenting hell, I was guessing , assuming and trying option after option just to get my daughter back. Trying to make her comfortable trying not to trigger trauma.
Her weekly psychologist appointments meant picking her up in and out of class times and dropping her back at school . With two other emotionally affected daughters one a tween and my own psychologist appoints, school runs and a house to run I was feeling overwhelmed. Each day felt like one foot firmly placed in-fornt of the other, each minute, each hour was my focus. Not days or weeks or months even, each day I would survive, for her.