Being a Mother to a sexually assaulted child

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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.

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32 thoughts on “Being a Mother to a sexually assaulted child

  1. I understand this so well… My daughter was also abused. I knew right away something terrible had happened to her because she used to be this bright, energetic child.. bubbly personality. And then she became angry, withdrawn, stopped speaking. I remember the tremendous guilt I felt about not being able to protect her. All the what-ifs and should-haves.. the strongest being if I did not leave her alone with —- maybe this would not have happened. Then again when it is a family member abusing your child, how are you supposed to even imagine this could happen? In my case, the abuser sought (and won) custody in family court. That was horrific too.. that in the end, she was sent back into the abuse. Thank you for sharing your story. You are not alone. xo

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      1. You’re a brave, strong Mum for all you are doing for your daghter, your family….and strangers by sharing your story. Thank you xo

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  2. I wish I had had you as a mother. I so wish that. I am so so sorry for what happened to your daughter and so sorry that you as a mother have to go through it too, seeing your daughter through this. But wow, how I wish you were my mother. Your daughter is very lucky. Please always remember how special you are.

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  3. I couldn’t get myself to click on like as this is so painful to read. I can’t imagine the difficulty. It’s written in the past tense, so I hope things are better now.

    Also, I think it was very brave of you to write this. Thank you for having the courage to share.

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      1. I found it helped me too. I don’t have children, but was sexually assaulted as a child. I only told my mum when I was 31 and had a breakdown following a trigger at work. As I read what you wrote, I realized I didn’t have it so bad, so it gave me strength.

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      2. Not really…people keep on telling me that others had it worse so I should be grateful.
        I somehow can’t remember much of it as it happened, but what sticks with me is how it has affected me and that is eternal, but people don’t know so I guess it doesn’t matter. For instance I’m scared of being alone even with my brother sometimes, it’s just a feeling that comes in out of the blue. When I’m in an elevator alone with a guy I press my back against the wall. If I’m in the front seat of a car with my uncle, I somehow lean towards the door and grab the handle. But…as I said, what people don’t know doesn’t matter I guess. I’m probably used to feeling scared and alone, it’s now become “fine” 😦

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      3. No one ever has it worse than another or easier because abuse is always different for every one who ever experiences it. Don’t ever believe that lie! Your journey is your own. Iam so sorry it still affects you and your every day life. Remember it’s never too late to get help from any source you want. You are not alone. Be brave , be honest and reach out. And if you can’t do that then pray, cause god always listens and you are loved by him .xx

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  4. I want to share this comment that I received for you on my blog from Sue Cass.

    There is a book, “When the Bough Breaks – A helping guide for parents of sexually abused children.” By Aprodite Matsakies. New Harper Publishers.
    I’ve recommended it to parents when I was leading support groups.

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  5. I was sexually abused as a child. As soon as I read that she was six, I burst into tears because that is when it started for me. My mother, unlike you, was not as supportive. She didn’t see the signs, even after being evauluated, and didn’t get me the help I needed. Even when my brother admitted what he was doing, my mom still left us alone together time and time again.
    I remember doing (and still do!) some of the things she does/did. Her mind is trying to survive in the only means it knows how to.
    I grew up and had a daughter of my own. My mother raised her, because I had her at a young age. She was also sexually abused in my mother’s care. She was around 11,12. She is now 19, and can not speak of the abuse. She knows of my past abuse, but it doesn’t reassure her enough to open up to me. She’s stubborn like me, convinced nothing will help or work, so she refuses to participate in counseling or seek any kind of help.
    It’s a constant battle to see your child suffer. To see her hurt, knowing you may never be able to take her pain away, no matter what you try.
    You are a good mom, a great mom. I wish I had a mom like you when I was growing up and I hope I can still be like the great mom you are, with my daughter now.
    God bless you.
    P.S. A book that helped me extremely to deal with my own abuse and understand why I, and my daughter, did and do what we do is: Secret Survivors: Uncovering Incest and its aftereffects in women. If you do take the time to read this, you will learn how strong your little girl really is, how her mind is helping her through all this confusion, how it protects her.
    Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This blog and comments show exactly how personal accounts of managing a terrible trauma like sexual abuse in a family can help not only the victims and family but others understand and heal too. Once again, I’m filled with hope that from this horror blooms the potent, powerful and fierce love of a mother for her child, highlighting the amazing resilience that this incredible mom, friend and little girl have. You never fail to amaze me. Xxx

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