A family’s new normal: Stephanie’s story


类别: Parenting, Survivor Voices

类型: 博客

I held my 5-year-old son as tears streamed down his face. He was pouring out his fears and all the emotional labor invested in hiding and maneuvering, so he could protect his loved ones from the fallout and pain that disclosure brings.

The next few hours was a rush of regularly scheduled activities for our other children, police reports, contacting others involved, and creating a safe space for my son. Later that week, I reached out to KCSARC through their 24-hour Resource Line. They immediately set us up with a legal advocate and encouraged our whole family to go through their 12-week intensive counseling program.

Eventually, another one of our kids, our 7-year-old daughter, also disclosed her sexual abuse from the same abuser. At that point, our whole family was receiving counseling from KCSARC and other services. All three of our children were connected with amazing, patient, trauma-informed counselors, who were the best fit for each of their unique personalities.

As a parent, walking alongside your children’s sexual abuse story and recovery is tough. Most days I held it together, then cried myself to sleep in bed because I held it in during the day. I didn’t want my emotions to be a burden on them, while they were working so hard to process not only the abuse, but the effects of the disclosure on their loved ones as well.

One thing in particular that I noticed was how attuned children are to the effect disclosing sexual abuse has on their loved ones. They knew once this “secret” was out our family unit would never be the same. It wasn’t the same, because mom and dad were more cautious, more curious, more questioning, leaning into uncomfortable conversations, more bold. But that wasn’t the only thing that changed. As parents, we were now there to empower, embolden and propel our children toward freedom and maybe one day, forgiveness.

It’s been over five years since that first disclosure that unassuming summer day. While there have been bad days — fights at school, loneliness, suicide ideation, etc. — there have also been good days. The understanding best friend, the wisdom and discernment beyond their years that comes from working through intense trauma, and the ability to stand against the crowd. My children know they have the full support of the family behind them.

I tell other parents of survivors to measure progress incrementally. There are going to be very difficult days where both child and parent are exasperated. Eventually, these days become less and less, and are replaced with days that are enjoyable; where everyone is belly laughing and we are embracing our new sense of normal, this added awareness that lingers in the air now.

Our deepest gratitude to Stephanie, a member of KCSARC’s Speakers Bureau, for sharing her family’s experience both here in this blog post, and in more detail in a Building Resilience podcast interview. 

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