My two children were sexually abused

Talking about child sexual abuse is difficult, especially for those who experience it deep within themselves. However, it is important and necessary to do so, because silence protects the aggressor. At Paula, we wanted to share the story of one of our readers who, despite the horror she had to live through, had the courage to speak up so that her experience could be useful to others.

“It all started with the story of my nephew. He was the first to speak.

We were all worried for a long time because he had become an aggressive and emotionally unstable child. It was obvious he was wrong and he had a lot of anger that he was venting on his closest surroundings. His parents were desperate. They had recently started psychological therapy to see what was wrong with him, as they had even come to believe that he might be suffering from a personality disorder. But no one in the family imagined what was really the cause of his enormous change. One day, in the middle of a fit of rage, he yelled at her, in his troubled voice. He said that ever since he was “little,” my mother’s husband touched his private parts. But now he was grown up and he didn’t want it anymore, he wanted it to stop. As if waking from a trance, he understood what he had said and, terrified, asked the lady who looked after him in the afternoon not to tell his parents. He told him that if he told them, the father, as they called him at the time, would do bad things. He was only 6 years old.

I remember my sister’s call that night as if it were today. It felt like the puzzle we had been trying to solve for over a year was finally starting to make sense. There was a reason for my nephew’s deregulation. In that moment, I remembered the times I scolded him for his temper tantrums, the family lunches where he fought with my kids and hit them. I remembered their screams and all the times they called my sister to tell her that she had bitten other children at school. I understood that all this had an explanation: my nephew had been sexually abused. She had been living with her abuser almost daily for years and no one suspected what was going on.

I never doubted his confession. I think it would be impossible for a child to build such a horrible story out of nothing. Simply because it occurred to me. He didn’t need more information, he knew it was true. And that was the start of the nightmare.

The first days were crazy. We are all focused on protecting her, seeking advice, informing my mother, confronting the abuser. But we weren’t even close to imagining what we were going to experience. Until this minute, it still felt like a bad dream, a movie. The first week passed and, in the middle of a conversation with my husband, I asked him: “And our children?” Something happened ? We look at each other without speaking. Drowned, I called the psychologist who was treating my nephew and asked for an evaluation for both of us. At that time our children were respectively 5 and 3 years old.

I took them to several sessions with the therapist, but my mind was still blocked. “That can’t happen, we’re good parents, we’ve always taken care of our children, it’s impossible,” he thought. As? When? Or? The idea that they had been abused was inconceivable to me. ‘If something had happened, I would have realized it because I’m his mom’, he repeated in my head to calm me down. But this conviction was short-lived. I couldn’t speak to the psychologist, it was my husband who spoke to her. There was no doubt: according to his assessment, the two boys had been sexually abused.

I wanted to die, I darkened, I screamed, I cried and deep down in my being I kept hoping to wake up and be told it was all one bad dream.

Each child experiences the trauma of sexual abuse differently. My nephew managed to speak and before telling the story he tried to give the world every sign he could of the horror he was going through. My children don’t. There was no story, they hadn’t told us. We had the psychologist’s evaluation and nothing else. At that time, I think I still had hope that the specialist was wrong. The guilt he felt was terrible. I couldn’t sleep or think because I felt completely drowned, overwhelmed. She felt that everything she had done as a mother had been for naught because she had ultimately failed to protect them. It was my fault. He hadn’t known how to take care of them.

With my husband, we decided that the children should start psychological therapy. It took several months to take them both once a week to sessions but, to be honest, I didn’t see that we were making much progress. In the meantime, I started having panic attacks and had to start taking medication to keep going. My children’s nightmares began and outbursts of both were frequent. None of us were well. One day after school, my eldest son asked me for a notebook and a pencil and went to his room. After a while I went to see him and knew I had to find other ways to help him, the drawings he made were a clear manifestation of what he was going through. A graphic symbol of the abuse she had suffered. We decided to change psychologists, to call on a trauma and sexual abuse professional for him and for us. We began intense therapy for both children through a dynamic called EMDR, which focuses on reprocessing and redefining traumatic experiences. Once a week each of them, once a week my husband and I with the child psychologist. For my part, I also started an EMDR psychological therapy with another professional.

The first session with the psychologist was clear and direct: “Without you I can’t do anything, I need you to commit yourself body and soul to repairing your children, otherwise it won’t work”, he said. she declared. He asked us if we were ready and we had no doubt it was a resounding yes. I will be grateful throughout my life for your guidance and support, for your firmness in not giving way to my weaknesses and always putting the children first, because that is the way it should be, they are them the victims. The damage caused by child sexual abuse spreads in all directions, much like a nuclear explosion that leaves a poisonous mushroom that spreads and sweeps through everything. But we must not forget that whatever pain we feel, the victims are not us, they are.

Many couples separate in a situation like the one we are experiencing. And I understand why. We stopped going out in the evening, we reduced gatherings with family or friends on weekends to a minimum because the objective was to devote time to the four of us. We wanted to give our children security, attachment and give them back the confidence they had lost. The work that we had to do as parents and that we continue to do has been hard and tireless. The only priority and objective that we put forward was the repair of our children. Through therapy, we learned to reconnect with the children, to experience each space with their well-being and needs in mind. Respecting their time and not rushing them, understanding above all that for them to be well, we had to show them that we could manage it, that like their parents, we wouldn’t collapse anymore. I will never forget what the psychologist told me when I asked her for the first time if she believed that my son could one day tell and verbalize his abuse: “Your son will speak when he sees and feels that you are capable to listen to what he has to say to you. The integration of the trauma, that is, the moment when the child is able to assume “it happened to me” and stops dissociating what happened, hiding it deep in his being as a defense and almost survival mechanism is a big step. the way to fix.

For our children, we make drastic and painful decisions. We moved away from what had been our family nucleus and, despite the difficulty of the path, I would still walk it a thousand times. My husband’s support was the cornerstone. I don’t know if I could have handled all of this on my own. Maybe the strength of the mother appearing from the most primitive would have lifted me up, I don’t know. But we stuck together, we put them first and it kept us together through the ups and downs, through thick and thin. They say there that what doesn’t kill makes you stronger. And we came out stronger. My kids started to move on, the nightmares subsided until they disappeared and we were able to get them out of their diapers at night (we couldn’t despite their age, bedwetting can be a symptom of abuse and we discovered it in therapy). The deregulations of each other were less and less frequent and when they occurred we were able to help them, support them and give them the calm and tranquility they needed so much.

We are about to celebrate 3 years since this started and I can say that every effort, every insomnia was worth it. Finally came the milestone my eldest son needed on his road to recovery. At the psychologist’s office, she was able to tell her father and mother what had happened to her. His bravery moves me to tears every time I remember that day, his face looking me in the eye and expecting from me the containment and strength I could give him at that time.

On this path, I met many people who, listening to me, said to me: “I was also a victim”. Even within my closest group of friends, but nobody talks about it. I don’t think anyone imagines what’s really going on or measures the number of abused children. As parents, we did not hesitate to take legal action against the abuser of our children and thus show them in the future that we were doing everything possible to bring justice to them and to all the children who have terrible experiences like this. Unfortunately, so far the road has been frustrating. The justice system is slow and not designed to protect and prioritize minors. A lot of financial resources are needed to expedite business with lawyers.

Today the aggressor of our children continues to lead a normal life in his house, a few kilometers from ours, and living with children. The hardest part of the court process is proving the crime. Because the report of the three psychologists who have treated our children so far has not been enough. And the story of children at their young age is often not enough. There are no specifics, there is not enough language to communicate what the system requires and these are children who were sexually abused in their early years. My nephew and my eldest son, even at their young age, declared themselves to the PDI with all that this implies for a victim. The miner still cannot and can never say what he went through because he was still very young when it all happened.

Camila (46) is a commercial engineer and lives with her two children and her husband in Santiago.

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Source: Latercera

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