Dear Dr. Archer,
Growing up I was subject to any and all abuse known to man by family members. I've never spoken out about it until September, 2011 at the age of 38.
I believe the people who did this harm to me only did it to me, and would never attempt such harm to anyone else. Raised by an abuser and someone who backed the abuser, it wasn't until September, 2011 that I realized manipulation was the tool used.
My siblings and I were raised by our parents, unaware of the truth due to the way it was set up, we continued to have a relationship with them. I know that may sound out of whack, but there were reasons why we did. I'm one of four children, and one of three that have children of our own.
Personally, I've never left my children alone with the person who directly abused me and my siblings, but still continuously had to tolerate other things, such as inappropriate talk and his horrible temper. Last March, 2011 I was told if I did not go to Houston for a spinal procedure, there was no doubt I would die within 5 to 7 days, so I went.
I had no other place to leave my children but at the home of my parents. This killed me, but they were older children, and my brother that was of age was going to be with them as well, to help watch them.
I was so sickened by the fear of leaving them that I became ill on the way to Texas. Once arriving there, I was prepared for surgery. It was out of my hands, and I was very ill.
After I returned from Houston, I spoke to each of my children, and although they all had complaints of this person, non had illegal complaints, until later.
I soon found out that very early in the morning, when all but my two youngest and this person were sleeping, something happened. It was sexual battery to a juvenile in the state of Louisiana, so of course I reported it.
In telling the truth. I have been cast out by two of my siblings who also have children; my parents have hired an attorney because local law enforcement has been trying to speak with them. Not only my siblings but their children have completely cut off all communication to me as well as my children, which is very painful for them.
I have never received any counseling for this, but now I'm concerned with my children receiving help and soon. I've tried places that charge on a sliding scale according to income, but that still limits what I can pay them, so it's impossible at this time for me to enroll them into counseling.
They speak to me briefly about what's happening, but I see more is bothering my children and this bothers me. I try my best to always hide how I feel, putting on a strong front for others so they know they can come to me. That said, I haven't spoken to anyone about all of this and it's getting harder to deal with.
My GP prescribed Prozac which I've been on for over two months, but I'm not doing much better. I find myself sleeping every chance I get when the children are at school and I isolate to hide my depression. I have chronic pain from osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia.
Since I'm having such a hard time coping with this and have no one to talk to, it's creating marital problems. I'm not sure where I should take this problem, but I'm sure I'm very concerned about my children receiving help above everything.
Life is getting much more difficult by the minute. Any and all psychological advice and time spent on this issue is greatly appreciated! Thank you.
Sadly, your story is not a first. Many times when a family member abuses and it's reported, the family is split and sides are taken. People react in different ways, ST, and accusing someone of sexual abuse is no different.
Most loved ones will do whatever they can do to help their child, but not all siblings/parents are receptive to such shocking news, and some choose not to believe the accuser.
Some families don't want another member of their family to go to jail. Some can be in denial, not just of the abuse, but they think if there's one abuser there could be others, so it's easier to stay in denial.
Your letter stands as an example for other parents: If an abuser is known, a child should never, ever be left in their care -- period, end of story. When all is said and done, anything is better than putting a child in harm's way. However, that’s in the past now, it’s time to focus on the future.
Regardless of your feelings and fears, ST, if a molestation occurred, you did the right thing by reporting it. The only way to stop things like this from occurring is for brave people like you to step forward.
**Communities across the country have free mental health care. Go to GoodTherapy.org for help in locating a therapist for your children in your area.
**School counselors should never be overlooked. She can be instrumental in bridging the gap from now to the time your children receive the therapy they so desperately need.
**Contact your local community mental health center. They are there to help; these are children that need counseling, and the sooner they get counseling, the better. If you don't know if your community has one, look in the yellow pages under "Mental Health."
**You mention you see your GP. Ask him for ideas. He should be in the know for either free or reduced fee counseling for your children. Do not wait on this, ST. Time is of the essence, and the sooner they start counseling, the better.
Good luck to you all, you have proved to be a survivor and both you and your children will survive this.