Dear Sista Girl:
My grown daughter just told me she was molested as a young child by two of her male cousins.
I was dumbfounded and heartbroken because as much as I tried to protect my three girls, someone had violated one of them. One of the worst things was that they were cousins from families that I would not have suspected of harboring such deep, sick secrets.
I have been dazed and confused for months now wondering what it is my angry daughter wants me to do now that she is grown. It seems she has displaced aggression towards me. Is my fault? Does anyone else share the blame, for instance, her father or the abusers?
What should I do?
I’m sorry for your family’s pain. The best part of the “#MeToo” movement is that a lot of women are finding it cathartic to face their abusers and/or share their pain with those closest to them. Don’t be surprised it took years for her to share her story. I know from my own experience that it took me twenty-five years to tell someone I was raped at 13.
First, my unprofessional advice would be for your daughter to seek professional help to deal with her anger. If your daughter has any type of insurance, she is probably eligible for therapy. A few sessions may be helpful.
Second, since her abusers are family members, she may want to confront them on her own terms in private, preferably not in public or a place of employment. It would probably be equally awkward to confront someone at a family event but she may feel differently. She is the person who has been wronged in this situation, and her abusers don’t deserve common courtesy or respect. Don’t tell her when or how to handle it. I’m sure you would have fought for her when she was younger, but it is her battle now. Steer clear until she asks for help.
Third, I would suggest that you protect other small children and teenagers from these predators. Not sure what that means for you and your family. Additionally, most abusers were abused at some point in their childhood. It may be a vicious family cycle that no one has addressed. You may all need counseling so that the next generation doesn’t suffer the same fate.
Finally, don’t internalize the pain and let it eat at you. Know that protecting children is a shared responsibility. It was not yours alone.
~ Sista Girl
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Note: The opinions stated here are not intended to replace any services from professional providers, authorities, and/or legal counsel.