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Author Topic: Please help me help my daughter
marathonmom
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My beautiful daughter is a 15 year old who is smart, talented, athletic, a great friend with many friends and a family who loves her dearly. About 4 months ago, I started to put some pieces together, behaviors she was exhibiting along with some random conversations I remembered, and I thought it was probable she had been raped. She has a difficult time talking about her life and she has a lot of daily stress due to school. Depression is also occasionally a problem. I wanted to talk to her about it but couldn't figure out a way or time to bring it up.
Last night, in an emotional discussion about her current boyfriend, she admitted it to me. She wouldn't elaborate and she didnt want to even discuss counseling...she went once before and she said it did nothing. She said she doesn't want to discuss it with me or anyone, which I definitely understand.
I don't feel right about discussing this with family or friends because that should be her decision if other people know which us why I'm here. What in the world can I do for her?

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Robin Lee
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I'm so glad you've come here and that you want to help her. Welcome. *gentle smile*

There are a few different things to consider here. First of all, your daughter has nothing to be ashamed of. She's feeling a lot of strong emotions right now, and while she doesn't want to talk about it, she needs to know that she doesn't have to be ashamed of it or afraid of what her loved ones might think. You can definitely start off by letting her know that you love her no matter what and that you're here to support and talk with her.

Because she is fifteen, I do want to ask about the legal aspects. Do you know who raped her? Does she still see this person? It is her choice whether she wants to go to the police, but if it was an adult there are other legal and safety concerns at play. We can discuss that more.

Also, do you know if she has been tested for pregnancy or STIs? It's a scary proposition for both of you, but does need to be taken care of.

You may already have looked at some information like this, but I'm going to give you some reading material. Let's definitely continue to talk about this. Plus, there may be a sexual assault center or similar agency in your area that can provide you, and hopefully eventually your daughter, with support. If this is something you think would be helpful to you, we can help you find resources. If you email me at robin@scarleteen.com with your location I can help you find something in your area.

I know this is heartbreaking for you; you're already doing so much for your daughter by believing in her and wanting to help her.

Dealing With Rape

Blinders Off:Getting a Good Look at Abuse and Assault

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Robin

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marathonmom
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Thank you so much for your quick reply. I let her know all if what you said last night when we talked. I also made sure she understood that she did not choose sex and therefore did not lose her virginity. She seemed to understand a lot about consent and coercion.

She would not tell me who it was but I'm fairly certain it was an ex boyfriend. He was controlling, emotionally abusive and started becoming physically abusive by the time she told me anything. They were together for about a year and he honestly displayed every item on your checklist. I did help her get out of that by showing her a checklist of warning signs and talking with her about it. Obviously, I didn't act quickly enough. This happened in all likelihood about a year and a half ago. Legally, there's probably not much more we could do other than file a report.

The incredibly difficult thing is that she still has to see him often. They have similar circles of friends, so some of her friends are friends with him as well. She doesn't feel comfortable telling anyone what happened because if the potential damage to her reputation if he disputes her story.

She has not been tested for either. Obviously she's not pregnant, and I'm also fairly certain STI's are also out. No symptoms have come to light and they were both so young and in their first relationship.

I will email you our location. Again, thank you so much. This is heartbreaking and I want her to be happy and to be able to have healthy relationships throughout her life.

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Robin Lee
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As you likely know by now, I emailed a couple of resources to you. I will continue to look for others.

It is a tricky and unfortuante thing that she has to see her abuser on a regular basis. I can understand that she wants to avoid the he said/she said business. Do you think she has any friends she could confide in?

It may not feel like it right now, but your loving support is going to go a long way towards her healing.

We'll continue to be here to support you, as well, and give you ideas and things to think about. I personally may be scarce over the next couple of days, but there are other staff and volunteers who will be here.

Hang in there, and do something good for yourself. I know this isn't easy. [Smile]

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Robin

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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Hey marathonmom,

I just wanted to quickly echoe robin when she says:
quote:
It may not feel like it right now, but your loving support is going to go a long way towards her healing.
... I understand how difficult it can be to know what to do, especially given that your daughter doesn't seem to want to talk much or explore anything other than what she's doing now. Although it may not feel like your are doing or can do much, honestly I think that just by being there and by being supportive you're already doing the best thing, among what else you're thinking about, that you possibly could do.

Even without speaking, just to know that someone close, especially a parent, knows and is there and will be supportive can be such a comfort. To feel ready to seek anything else too, can be made so much easier with the confidence you can get from knowing that person is just there.

I'm so thankful for parents like yourself, like Robin also says, Hang in there.

[ 01-29-2012, 02:27 PM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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Redskies
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Marathonmom,

I really wanted to write something to you about your situation, but had to think hard about what I should write, and in the end decided that perhaps the best thing I can do is say something about my own personal experiences. Of course, these are just my own experiences, and what happens and what people need can be very different depending on the circumstances, the people involved and the relationships between the people.

I experienced sexual abuse as a child and struggled because of it as a teenager. My mother, too, from observing me and my life, worked out what had happened, and finally asked me directly in a discussion when I was 16. She was one of the first people I told, and the first person to help me find real, useful help about it.

There are some issues in the relationship between my mother and myself, but this is the one thing where she never, ever let me down. She always believed me, she never questioned anything I felt, she never thought I should or could have done anything differently, she never excused the person who abused me. She didn't push me to tell her anything, but was very clear to me that I could if and when I wanted. She found out information about the issue so that she knew about after-effects that people in my position commonly experienced. She told me that people in my position nearly always need counseling to deal with and heal from what happened to them and encouraged me to get it. She waited without pressuring me until I said I was ready to try counseling, and then she found a suitable place for me to try - if it hadn't felt ok to me there, I guess she would have found somewhere else. She took me to the appointments so that I could go, and she never asked what was said. Once, she hugged me while I sobbed for half an hour straight.

That whole process took time. It was weeks after it was first mentioned that I felt able to talk about it again, and months until I felt able to talk about it in any meaningful way. It must have been hard for someone close to me to watch such slow progress. But in the end, I got to a really healthy place.

My mother was awesome. I could never put into words how much all of the above helped - so much more than helped. Having a close care-giver just believing and supporting is important beyond words.

You sound incredible in how you're approaching this.

I appreciate how very hard things like this can be for mothers. Very probably it was mentioned in the information that Robin sent you, but I just wanted to mention: often, organisations that provide support for people who have experienced assault/abuse will also offer support to close family members, like mothers. It's worth knowing about, if you ever need it, particularly as you currently can't discuss it with family or friends without breaking your daughter's confidentiality. It is absolutely legitimate and ok for you to have your own strong feelings and needs around this.

(I had to persuade my mother to get counselling, a few years later. She still had lots of strong feelings, including guilt and anger, and I wanted her to be free of those, plus her having those feelings wasn't good for my own healing, as I didn't have the energy to be concerned for her too. Counselling really helped her, and really helped our relationship around this issue, and made things feel easier for me.)

Just a thought about the counselling your daughter tried. Obviously I have no idea what it was, but if it wasn't from someone specialised in working with assault or abuse, sometimes that can be less helpful than with someone specially trained. Also, sometimes the timing just isn't right for the person getting counselling, and sometimes the counsellor just isn't a good fit for them personally. Just so you know that this isn't an avenue that's necessarily closed for good.

I truly wish that all people in your daughter's situation had a parent as supportive as you. It may not feel like you always do or say the right thing, and you might feel quite lost, but so long as you simply go on believing her, supporting and encouraging her without pressuring her, you will be a huge force for good in her healing.

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The kyriarchy usually assumes that I am the kind of woman of whom it would approve. I have a peculiar kind of fun showing it just how much I am not.

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marathonmom
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From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for your help and support. Robin, she does have some friends she can talk to, ones who are trustworthy and don't know the person involved. I don't think she has told anyone else yet but I think she is getting close.

Jacob & Redskies, it's good to know that my support and belief in her matters because honestly it doesn't feel like much. As a parent, I definitely feel the need to fix this but after reading about this and now hearing from you, I understand it must come from her. She needs to do this herself and I think she's just now starting to figure out how much it has affected her and her ability to have trusting relationships.

Redskies, you hit the nail right on the head with me feeling guilt and anger. I feel extremely guilty for not understanding she was being emotionally abused in the first place let alone the actual rape. I'm the one who is supposed to be there to protect her and I failed miserably. I also realize those feelings are my own and I will not show them to her. I think it would shut her down to think something that happened to her affected me like that. I will seek help for myself as well.

I'll just continue to be here for her while gathering info for the day she decides she needs more. (and thanks for the tip about counsellors... I know she wasn't specifically trained for sexual abuse and I'm sure my daughter was not truly prepared to talk.)

Thank you all so much .

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Heather
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marathonmom, I'm late to the game here, but I wanted to suggest a couple of books for you and your daughter I think may be helpful:

• In Love and In Danger: A Teen's Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships by Barrie Levy
• It Happened to Me: A Teen's Guide to Overcoming Sexual Abuse by William Lee Carter
• But I Love Him: Protecting Your Teen Daughter from Controlling, Abusive Dating Relationships by Jill Murray
• Ending Violence in Teen Dating Relationships by Al Miles

Also, just a quickie with STIs: mostof the time, for most people and most STIs, STIs are asymptomatic. The idea we can tell if we or others have one by symptoms is actually a big player in how widespread they are, since that's an incorrect assumption. So, setting her up with testing soon is the soundest move per protecting her health.

And as others have said, it sounds like you have been amazing with this. All too often we hear from young people here who are in abuse or who have survived it without this kind of excellent support from their parents, and often with complete nonsupport, unfortunately. The way you're supporting your daughter is not only fantastic parenting, it's support that's going to make it so, so much easier for her to heal and from healthy relationships in the future. Big cheers for you from over here.

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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marathonmom
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Heather,

Thank you! I ordered the books and will get the testing.

I have known more than one victim who did not have parental support and I vowed I would never be that parent. I can't tell you how much it helps me to hear that me just being here for her will help her.

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Heather
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Well, I think it's obvious we all think you're really awesome. I am sure that you have some very hard feelings around not protecting her as you feel you perhaps could have. But whether or not you actually could have done more in that department -- maybe, maybe not -- I think that what you're doing now makes all the difference.

After all, lots of us will experience or have experienced trauma in our lives. It's often a part of life. Trauma isn't easy to manage or heal from, but I'd say the trauma itself is less of a barrier to getting through it than what happens around and after it per support. Looks like you're being a rock star when it comes to that. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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nixieGurl
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Hi marathonmom,

I just wanted to say as someone who has survived rape and abuse without the support of her family, I really admire what you are doing for your daughter. She will need you through this and just knowing she has your love and support I am sure will be hugely healing for her. I wish I had the support of my mother as your daughter does, but it has totally made my day to see you here trying to do the best bv your daughter. I hope she is doing okay and I hope you know how awesome we all think you are here at ST.

Em

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marathonmom
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I guess I don't really know if I could have done more to protect her or not. I don't have any idea what the details are and I don't know if I ever will. Right now, I'm wishing I had kept her locked in the house her whole life.

And I am sorry for all of you who didn't have parental support. I know it's sometimes hard for parents to believe that something like that would happen to their children, especially without them knowing. But when your child is displaying obvious PTSD symptoms and then tells you she was raped, I feel like belief is a no-brainer.

She's doing ok but I don't think she realizes that so much of her behavior now is a result of the abuse. I'm hopeful that the books will help her see that therapy will help her act from a place of her choosing, not out of fear and that it could help with problems like depression, insomnia, self-esteem, etc.

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Jill2000Plus
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Marathonmom, give yourself a big pat on the back for not having kept her locked in the house her whole life, because that's just as damaging.

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Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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Saffron Raymie
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You're an incredible parent; well done. I'm also an abuse survivor with a victim-blaming mother, so, I really do admire you as a mom. We're all here if you'd like any support or have any questions, or would just like to talk.

Were you able to connect with any resources?

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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marathonmom
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Hi!

I was able to get a couple names of potential therapists in town, if the request should come. I also purchased the books Heather suggested and ended up giving my daughter the workbook. I read through it and although it would be best to complete it with the help of a trained pro, I also thought just reading could help her work through her own feelings and hopefully help her realize she could benefit from counseling. I didn't really expect her to open it for a while but she did...the very first night I gave it to her.

I have to admit the last couple days really feels a bit like a cloud has lifted. She hasn't talked about the abuse any mire and neither have I. But you all were right so far in that I think just knowing someone she loves knows, believes, understands, etc. seems to help. She has literally had no insomnia since she told me and her mood has lightened.

I do understand that I do NOT think for a minute that she us miraculously emotionally healed...far from it. Her behavior makes me hopeful that she will remember what it feels like to love herself and request the help that will get her there.

As we continue down this path, I know I'll be back with more questions and it's extremely helpful to know I can talk with others about this. Thanks again!

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Saffron Raymie
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Anytime. [Smile]

I completely understand that you don't think she's suddenly healed - but you're deeply relieved that she's taken the first tiny step on her healing journey - which is very often the hardest step.

I'm so pleased she's taking a look at the book; sounds very hopeful indeed. It's also brilliant about the insomnia disappearing - insomia from trauma is awful. My very best wishes to your daughter in her healing journey, she sounds like a lovely person.

[ 02-03-2012, 05:21 PM: Message edited by: Saffron Reimi ]

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'Obtain the virgin's consent before you marry her' - Prophet Mohammad (pbuh)

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