Court Case – Child Abuse – Answer (22 July @ 09:17pm)

Congratulations on having the courage to go through with the court case.

Everything you have said in your letter about your family not understanding is unfortunately very common in situations like this. I am really sorry this is the case for you as well. But just because they won’t admit what happened and that you were abused doesn’t mean that it is less awful. What happened was wrong and should never, never have happened.

You did not seduce him – as a young child you of 12, you were not trying to seduce him, he as the adult was abusing you. We learn in our support group not to deny, that we did not imagine the incest, nor was it our fault in any way. The abuser will go to any length to shift the responsibility to the defenseless child, often accusing the child of being seductive. And in your case also telling you that you are stupid. Think of it as something he is trying to give you – reject it, don’t accept it. You are not stupid, you have taken a road of going to court that many people cannot handle. You are courageous and well done. You had healthy, natural needs for love, attention and acceptance, and you paid high prices to get those needs met, but you did not seduce your abuser. Physical coercion is rarely necessary with a child since the child is already intimidated. The more gentle the assault, the more guilt the victim inappropriately carries. We also learn not to accept any responsibility for the assaults even if these occurred over a prolonged period of time. I hope you learn this too.

I am not at all surprised that you are not ok after only 12 weeks of counselling. You need to give yourself much more time than that. Perhaps you should look for a support group such as Survivors of Incest Anonymous near you. Call a trauma line and ask if they can direct you to the nearest group. It will be very good for you to be surrounded by supportive people who understand what you are going through.

You can heal though, just be gentle with yourself and give yourself time. You have spent years coping with this, so give yourself at least a year or two to mourn what happened and get support from people who understand this.

You are welcome to write to me on admin@crisiscentre.org.za.

Human beings respond to trauma in different ways. Coping with being abused is also more difficult if family, friends and colleagues are not supportive and/or blame the survivor. However, if a survivor is going to recover well from the impact of the abuse, she must let herself remember the abuse and feel whatever she is feeling inside. Allow yourself to mourn, to be angry etc. if possible do this with a trauma number handy if needed. Now that you have gone through the court case and had to let yourself remember and feel all these things again you will also start suffering from symptoms, but these usually improve gradually over time. It often helps to have counselling or attend a support group, especially during this time. Also having The Courage To Heal around can be good because it explains each stage you might go through.

You will never forget the abuse, but many learn how to deal with the memory. You can too.

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