Teens & Sexual Assault

Parent Q&A

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  • High School for daughter with depression

    (13 replies)

    My daughter is dealing with depression and has survived a suicide attempt. She went back to high school, 10th grade, but sadly is now dealing with memories of being molested by a middle school teacher. She also has ADHD. She is bright but is having problems with motivation and is not keeping up. The pandemic has not helped. She is on meds, doing therapy and it seems that her high school is becoming part of the problem. I have heard of Orinda Academy  and Bayhill High School but the posts  are a few years old and seem to reference boys. Does anyone have experience with these schools and girls? Are there other schools, other suggestions. She has had the most painful and  difficult year of her life and we need to find a safe supportive school for her. Help!!!!

    Could look into Holden High in Orinda.  My friend's son with ADHD, anxiety, and depression went there and had a good experience, graduating a few years ago.  I went to see him once, because we were meeting for coffee at a local cafe (and he got the time wrong), and there was a kid outside playing the guitar and helpful kids inside.  At the time they opened a few hours early and the students could hang out in the lounge.  

    Other suggestions: Some kind of exercise she enjoys.  tennis, running, bicycling, hiking. .Even following an exercise or dance routine on a screen is better than sitting around all day, but getting out in green spaces can also be very helpful. Also, meditation, guided or not. Start yourself, and ask her to join, so it is less pressure. 

    Hi, really sorry your daughter (and you) are going through this. One of my closest friends enrolled her daughter in Holden, and she has found it a really supportive environment her teen who has a range of mental health and academic challenges.

    Hello. My daughter is currently in 11th grade at Holden High in Orinda.  She enrolled after a disastrous year at a public high school.  Her issues include dealing with trauma and ADHD.  It's a wonderfully supportive environment with a strong therapeutic component.  Message me if you'd like to talk or be connected to some people at the school. 

    Mentoring academy is very one-on-one and supportive, my son was very drawn to that community and a friend of ours has a daughter who goes there.  Maybe it will click for her?  I hope she feels better soon!

    Also, I second the suggestion of group activities, exercise.  There are great online communities, e.g. I go to  makingwavesstudio.com (a zumba class that moved to online, lots of love and encouragement, if she likes to dance!).

    My daughter has struggled trauma and depression and is right now at a Residential Treatment Program. It’s a very hard decision to come to but we had to make sure she was safe. I do know a lot of kids who return from RTC go to Orinda Academy with good results. We looked seriously into Bayhill and it’s a great school but at the time did not resonate with our daughter. The admit process requires kids to do visits, interviews and shadowing so they have to be motivated. Good luck. It’s a hard road and I hope you find a good placement for her. 

    My daughter went to Orinda Academy and loved it - she looked forward to going to school everyday, which was a great relief for our family. The teachers are very warm and supportive towards the kids.  The academics were good - very individualized to each student and my daughter was well-prepared for college. The downside was the small size of the school - and the population of girl students was even smaller.  

    My son, who is dyslexic, was absolutely MISERABLE in school for years- until we discovered Bayhill High School in Berkeley.  He started in 10th grade and is now in 12th.  It literally brings tears to my eyes to think about how much happier he has been since we made the switch- after years of suffering, we’ve finally found the right school for him.  Class size is very small- most have about 6 to 8 students- I think his biggest class ever had about 10 or 12.  The school is really great at giving the students enough support for them to be successful.  My son also told me that, unlike other schools he has attended, there are no mean kids at Bayhill.  That’s been his experience anyway.  They shifted relatively seamlessly to distance learning last March, and although my son does not like distance learning, he’s still managing to do ok.  There are definitely fewer girls than boys at the school, and since I don’t have a girl I can’t comment on what the experience is like for girls there, but if you contact the school they may be able to put you in touch with some parents of girls who can share their experience.  We also visited Orinda Academy and that seemed like a good option too.  Best of luck to you in finding a good match for your daughter!

    Our daughter had success at Tilden Prep, in a similar situation. It’s one-on-one instruction, conducted at the student’s own pace. My daughter missed an entire semester of school due to depression and she was able to get caught up at Tilden. You are welcome to contact me for more info. 

    My daughter who had struggled somewhat with Executive Function issues as well as dyslexia and depression attended Orinda Academy for her senior year and graduated in 2018. She felt like the community was really supportive and the faculty was a good combination of understanding and motivating. One positive sign for us was that she often brought up what they were discussing in classes or projects they were working on. She wanted to have a  "regular" high school experience (pre-COVID) without intense and unmanageable pressure. While she didn't really need the extra support the school provides in terms of tracking missing assignments, we were reassured to know that it was there in case things went awry. Our daughter also benefitted from the presence of  a Coyote Coast onsite counselor that she could check in with if she was having a hard day as well as Mollie Mowatt, then Dean of Students--who had a really great manner and was a good problem-solver. We drove my daughter to school from Berkeley initially, and then she started taking BART--and would walk to school with other students and get picked up by the school commuter van. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing she was in good hands all day. 

    I second the suggestion for Holden High. My teen went there all 4 years of high school, graduating last spring. You won't find a more responsive and supportive place for a teen struggling with the issues you describe. If you contact them, they can put you in touch with a current or recent parent who can talk to you about your specific situation. Good luck to you and your daughter! 

    Please check out Holden High in Orinda. My teen with mental health challenges, after trying several other high school environments,has thrived there.  My teen feels supported there and valued. The distance learning curriculum at Holden has been great as well and includes weekly therapy, ongoing support from an academic advisor and community meetings. The school even offers family therapy and parents support groups, all included in the curriculum. Holden has been a lifesaver for our family. 

    Sorry to hear your daughter is having such a tough time! My daughter is in 10th grade and has severe depression (and some childhood PTSD) and after trying quite a few different therapies, a therapist I trust mentioned DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) which seems to address the exact issues she has with herself. (helpful rundown here: https://www.centerforebt.com/dbt-video-esme-shaller-phd/

    She's going to be starting a residential program at Newport Academy in San Rafael that provides DBT and ACT (to help her buy in to the idea that things can be better - she couldn't bring herself to honestly participate in the therapy at home, but is actually cautiously excited to start there). I stumbled across a lot of the info, so happy to share if your daughter seems to have similar struggles.

  • Rape on College Campus Concern

    (7 replies)

    Dear Parents,

    Can you help me with this concern? Our daughter is visiting colleges but so far she has only really been excited by Pitzer. But then we read about the recent rape on campus that was reported in the school paper. Pitzer was also just awarded a grant to address this issue. My parent alarm went off big time. It was enough to take this school off her list. But then what's left?

    When I read on unigo remarks made by the students themselves I also move into fear. Remarks that sound cruel or degrading are upsetting. I think I need a little perspective from parents who have journeyed through this terrain or from students out there. Every time I think we have a few colleges for her list I read something awful about them.  ( stoned all the time, heavy alcohol use, rich snotty elites).  

    There are no completely safe havens, and any college student needs to be prepared to look out for himself/herself AND for his/her friends in dangerous or dicey situations.  That said, I would not write a school because of a couple of news reports of crime or some lurid publicity.  Dartmouth has had its share, and my daughter's experience was NOTHING like that stupid Rolling Stone article or the tell-all book of questionable veracity.  Would you take Harvard off the table because the men's soccer team made crude comments about the female soccer players? 

    I high recommend the College Confidential website as a place to get current and accurate feed back from parents and students about the actual situatiuon at any colleges your daughter might be interested in that give you pause.  Here is a specific thread about campus crime at the college life "forum" [the College Confidential or CC term for its structure]:  http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-life/1926725-campus-safety-crime.html  Here's the link to the home base of the College Life forum itself [the site can be difficult to navigate:  http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-life/ The Cafe might also have some relevant threads:  http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/college-confidential-cafe/ and here's the table of contents for the of specific colleges:  http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/alphabetic-list-colleges/

    I'm guessing from your post that your daughter is around 15 or 16? She may just not be ready yet to think about leaving home, and you not yet ready to let her go. Thus, every bad thing that could happen when she will be away from home is setting off alarms. Calm down, look at colleges based on their logistical points (majors, geography, costs, etc), and wait until both of you are ready before considering student life, because student life (good and bad) will be basically the same everywhere. (Then *real life* comes next, and neither of you can hide from that)

    As the mom of a daughter who is a sophomore in college, I understand your worry. Sexual assault, as well as alcohol and drug use, are serious problems. However, I have not heard of ANY college that is exempt from either. When we were looking at colleges a couple of years ago, I mentally sorted them into two categories: colleges that talk about sexual assault and seriously try to stop it, and colleges that cover it up. There are plenty of examples of the latter.  But Pitzer is putting an article in the school paper, probably with resources and tips, so they're in the first category. In my mind, a school that is open and proactive makes it safer for women. I wouldn't have crossed it off my daughter's list, but I would have used it as the spark for yet another "how do you stay safe" conversation.  

    dear Cathy,

    I can only imagine how hard it is to contemplate all this, in addition to a child leaving the nest, and I can only speak from my own experience, which was at Cal in the 1980s. From that, I can tell you that rape, alcohol and drugs have been an unfortunate part of campus culture since at least then. One difference is that now rape is starting to be discussed and reported much more - it sure happened 30 years ago, only women didn't come forward. Confusion, fear and shame made an invisible, durable cage.

    Rape can happen anywhere, even in "safe" places, and awareness of that potential is an advantage in preventing it. Also, many many people, including young men, are respectful, ethical and good. Most potentially risky situations I got myself into turned out just fine. I learned a lot.

    No matter where your daughter goes, she should be armed with prevention and self-defense techniques - that's a plus for anyone. Please do not let the fear of it narrow her horizons - that's an invisible cage that will limit her options and is hard to dismantle. Let her go where she is excited to go, and give her tools to help her stay safe during college and after.


    College life is a time for your child to experience independence and is an important time in their personal growth. You want to make sure your child is not naive, has good assertiveness skills and chooses their friends wisely. This starts with the values you have imparted in them from a very young age. Make sure you keep the lines of communication open and arm your daughter with self defense skills - not just physical abilities but most importantly the verbal skills needed to be clear about setting boundries and communicating these effectively. I am the mom of two boys college age and have spent many hours of conversation on their role in being respectful partners and feeling confident in their ability to defend and keep their friends safe. I am a martial artist who has taught all ages of kids and adults over my many decades of professional life, so this is a concern that is close to my heart. You can check out our self defense seminars and ongoing classes at www.emeryvillemartialarts.com if you are interested.

    I have to respond to another commenter, a college professor who said flat-out that rape on campus is overblown and sensationalized. This is such a load of crap. I have other things to say but they will never make it through the admins so I'll leave out my particular thoughts about this professor and his personal habits. 

    Rape on campus has certainly been a problem since I was in school (graduated in 1989). There is a reason we started the Take Back the Night movement. Every year, we would gather and women (and men) would line up to tell their stories. There was no glory in this. As good as it felt to unburden ourselves, it also left us feeling brutally vulnerable and for me kicked off certain realizations and a lot of anxiety that required years of therapy. I went to an amazing feminist school in the heart of New York City and women were raped every year: by frat guys, by ersatz-feminist hippie boys, by a security guard employed by the university. And like all universities -- ALL OF THEM -- the university hushed up the problems and refused to report anything to the local cops for fear of bad publicity. 

    It's so destructively naive to assume that because there have been false reports, that false reports are the majority or the norm. 

    Now, back to your question, now that I've thoroughly terrified you: College is like any other phase of life. You can't protect your daughter by choosing what seems to be a safe school. You just can't. All you can do is educate her about how to party safely, how to travel in a pack of other women, how to defend herself, and how to sniff out bad actors. For some of us this information was hard-won. Let me tell you, this current generation doesn't party like we did -- I think our generation of parents, or at least the sort who live in and around Berkeley, have remained connected with our kids in such a way that they just don't feel the need to go off the chain like we did (okay, like I did). Kids today seem much more sensible than I ever was. 

    If your daughter is excited by a certain college, don't let this dissuade you. To me it's GOOD news that the rape was actually reported. I'd be more suspicious of a school that claimed it was rape-free. And any school is going to have its partiers, its euro-trash, its stoners. Every school. Your daughter can navigate around them. In fact, it'll be a good skill to learn. The main thing is, does the school give her what she needs academically, will it challenge her, will it feed her mind and soul so she's too busy for that nonsense. 

    Best of luck. I know i sound harsh, but ... I think you can handle it. 

    I highly recommend the Impact Bay Area young adult class. They usually offer it a couple of times each summer. http://www.impactbayarea.org/

    Full-force self defense class, which makes it completely different from other self-defense classes. You actually practice against an "attacker" (instructor) who is wearing a padded suit and protective head gear so they won't get hurt but the students experience what it is like to really fight back. And they learn verbal techniques as well.

    I semi-forced my daughter to go, the summer before first year of college (she had gone willingly to their class for younger teens a couple years before but didn't think she needed to go again), and she was really glad she did it! So far (four years in) she has only had to use the verbal techniques, but it gives her a lot more confidence (and gives me a lot more peace of mind!).

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Pre-teen daughter abused by my best friend's husband?

Jan 2013

Dear BPN,

I write this with shaking hands and a wrenching stomach. Last night my 11 year old daughter told me that about 2 years ago my best friends husband told her to touch him ''there'', grabbing her wrist and trying to force her to do so. In and of itself this is shocking, obviously. She was so scared to tell me, had to write it down as she was unable to get the words out. All day she had acted strangely, honestly I thought she had kissed a boy, was the vibe I thought I was getting. But this!!! What confuses me most is that he has an incredibly strong accent, she has never understood him well, though she has known him all her life. But, she describes an unmistakable fear and awkwardness with him since. I wanted to keep asking ''are you sure, are you sure?!'' I asked once, any more seems it will be devaluing the huge step she made to tell me, it was clearly the hardest thing she's ever done. The other thing that boggles my mind, is she said her sister and the man's son were all right there. I just can't fathom any of this! What do i do?? Do i tell my friend? Confront him? Bash in the windows of his new truck?!

Between my daughter and I, I feel she is ok, or on her way there. She took it all on and thought of everyone but herself. Was worried for my friendship, their marriage, their kids, etc. If nothing else, this is a learning experience for protecting herself, speaking up for herself, and always always trusting me. (She thought I'd ''freak out'')

I just dont know how to proceed. This is literally the last man in the world i would've thought this would happen with. I know the stats say it's someone you know that you wouldn't expect, but him??

(also, she had more details: like him threatening to turn off her cartoons she was watching if she didn't, she hopped up and ran next to her 6 year old sister, and he did change the channel. Then he laughed, turned cartoons back on and patted the seat next to him. she refused, obviously) so, it wasn't just one random line that she may have misheard. Also, we were just going through a divorce, she remembered we headed to a house that night that we stayed in very briefly while we transitioned. Did he take advantage of that, too?!?

I'm boggled, rattled, furious and ashamed. Any advice would be really great, Thanks.

Mama Bear is about to kill someone

Call Child Protective Services and make a report of possible child sexual abuse. Your job is not to become the investigator on this guy rather your job is to focus on helping your daughter recover from this trauma. Anon

Please contact a professional to help you with this, especially to decide whether to involve law enforcement, and how to talk to your friend and her husband, etc. I work in youth development and while I would love to say ''call the police!'' that could be a huge strain on your daughter. If it was hard to open up to you, imagine what it would be like to have to answer their questions. Their are crisis lines you can call and talk to professionals. Please consider that. hurting for you!

First I am very sorry for what you and your daughter have had to go through. This is typical of child abusers. You need to tell the police what happened. He needs to be stopped. I know it will be difficult for you to do but what he did was wrong and a crime. Kudos for you for reaching out and for your daughter for her bravery in telling you. anonymous

I encourage you to do two things. First, call the police. Allow them to determine what happened. They are well trained on the subject of abuse and know how to work with children/young people safely and respectfully. Second, have your daughter talk to a professional so that you can have the assurance she is working through this experience. You do not want to take the responsibility of deciding what occurred or how your child is doing. Give that responsibility to professionals who are trained to do so. Natalie

If you haven't already, call the police NOW. They must get involved, for as a parent you are obligated to report this and risk legal problems if you don't. They will do their work and you will hopefully be able to press charges. Prepare to take this all the way. Assume your daughter is not the only one. I would not talk to these friends prior to calling the police. Your girlfriend may be lost forever, but hopefully she will see clearly enough to get out of there immediately and not look back. My mother was married to a man for 14 years who I always felt was creepy. At 10!years old, he would touch me (fully clothed) in ways I knew were not right. I spoke up early on and luckily my mom supported my need ''not to be touched''. He hated me for it, and we avoided each other until I left home at 17. My family did not see what I saw and my sister raised her daughter in his house. 20 years later, my mother divorced him. Why? He asked my adult sister to have sex with him. 2 years earlier, I walked in on him holding my niece on his lap (fully clothed). She was asking him to ''stop'' and ''let her go'' in a way that I knew indicated abuse. But my mind could not grasp what I saw. It was if I could not believe my eyes and had two minds battling each other about what I saw. I told my step mother, could not find it in me to tell my sister. What if I was wrong? No one believed me when it was me, and I always held the role as trouble maker in my family. I knew I wouldn't be believed. When my step mom told my sister- she and my mother refused to take it seriously and continued for two more years to believe I was stirring trouble. My extremely disengaged and introverted niece began to blossom within weeks of her grandfather being gone for good. My sister does not talk to me to this day. My mother medicated her guilt. No one has said I was right all along. Denial is a powerful thing. Your mind plays tricks on you. This is why they get away with it. Rather than getting my niece counseling (let alone for my sis), they pretend it's in the past and don't talk about it. Please avoid all above. Do what you must. Get therapy. And prosecute. Believe your Daughters

Believe your daughter. Be thankful she told you soon enough that you can still do something to protect other mothers' daughters--even though two years have passed your friend's husband is still sick and he still poses a danger. I am confident others will send you good advice on how to proceed, and please, please take it. Do not let the seeming incredibility of this news, your compassion for your friend and her husband, or concern for a friendship keep you from acting. As you take the necessary steps, support your daughter, let her know that she has done something very, very brave to help others.

Another mother who has been there

You should believe her, and act accordingly. Not only is it statistically someone that you don't expect, it is NEARLY ALWAYS someone that NO ONE would suspect. People who molest children know how to lure children and their parents into a comfort zone, ideally one in which parents will not believe their children if they do report it. Believe her, tell her you believe her, and tell her that again and again. Show her that you believe her by taking action. Confront your friend and tell her that her own child(ren) could have witnessed abuse. Ask your younger daughter about it (she was 6 then, she's 8 now, you need to find out whether she had a similar experience). Being sexually abused does not have to be devastating. Having a parent not take it seriously will make it devastating. You have it in your power to help her heal. sara

PLEASE PLEASE go to the police as soon as possible. I've worked with, and know so many survivors and, aside from the benefit to your child, you may have the opportunity to prevent further abuse by this pedophile. No abuser does it ''just once'' and your daughter is likely neither the first, nor the last. Second, if nothing is done, your daughter will get the impression by action that she was somehow responsible for this, and when older, get very angry that it was swept under the rug. Studies show that children recover in relation to affirmative action taken against the abuser so that they know they are not alone, the perpetrator is the one who is wrong person, and feel more control over the incident. As to your friend, being honest is the only recourse. Denial may be the first response, anger, pleading not to take it further, or call authorities etc. What ever bad things may befall the reporting of this, it would be nothing compared to the stolen lives and childhoods abusers take; the mental illness, drug abuse, and adult trauma that follows throughout a victim's life. And if they too have children, yesterday is as soon as you should report it. You must contact the police now. Lori

Yes, it is the person you DO NOT expect! Please, please believe what your daughter is telling you, let your daughter know she did the right thing by telling you and go the police!! .

Don't discount what she is saying. By the way your daughter reacted is proof enough for me. I went thru this with a family member and I WAS made to feel as if it was my fault that 'he' had to leave the house. I would have her speak to her Dr and I would most DEF! talk to your friend. If he would do this to your child what about his own. been there

Mama Bear, I am so, so sorry to hear about your situation! First, let's give praise and thanks where it's due: to your daughter for being brave enough to tell you, and to you for having a close enough relationship with your daughter that she DID tell you! And to you for not freaking out and going over to this guy's house with a gun or hatchet, as many of us would want to do. If it were me in your situation, I would call the police, right now. File a report. Maybe it will be the Sheriff's Dept...I don't know where you live. But, call one of them and file the report. Then, set up a counselor's appointment, pronto. Bring your daughter and yourself there. Please do not worry at this point about your friendship. This is huge. This is your daughter, and she was almost molested. I am sorry that this may end your friendship, but your daughter and her safety, and the truth has to come first, and be held up higher than anyone's hurt feelings (your friend). Your friend will hopefully come to terms with the fact that she is married to a molester (not just a pedophile, because not all pedophiles become molesters) but that is NOT your burden or responsibility. Yours is to protect your child, and do the right thing by letting the law handle this. Please don't consider not calling the police. Silence is how molesters continue to harm children, plus the fact that they usually escalate their abuse. Your daughter is probably not the only one who has been targeted. Good luck to you!

Firstly I am so sorry that this happened and that you have to deal with this. I am also sorry to tell you that your relationship with this family will probably never be the same, no matter what happens b/c in my opinion (as a mental health professional and mother) you should call the police to report this IMMEDIATELY. Even mandated reporters are not investigators and it is not your job, nor are you trained to determine if this really happened. The details you have provided tell me enough. File a police report immediately and let the police handle it. Tell your daughter you are so proud of her for telling you this frightening thing happened, keep her away from this person, and let her know that you are calling the police who will determine what needs to happen. Tell her this is not her responsibility and that if she feels guilty or like she needs to take care of others, that nothing is her fault and this is an issue for adults to resolve. If you want to call your friend and tell her you have made a police report against her husband, you can do so, but you run the risk of the husband then being warned and given the chance to develop a story. Tell your daughter a grownup may come to ask her some questions and she should be honest just like she was with you and that you love her and will be by her side as this unfolds. You very well may lose your friend BUT it is not just your daughter, if he did that 2 years ago who knows what he's been up to since. Tell your daughter that it is never OK for adults to ask children to touch them and it is your job to help make sure he cannot hurt children. Tell her she was brave and you love her and keep your eyes open. She may benefit from counseling. Also, I am not surprised he did this in a room with kids focused on TV. He was testing the water so to speak and the other kids are there but not really watching so it is easy to disclaim when the child goes home and tells someone: ''what is she talking about? She misunderstood. I was never even alone with her. All of us were watching TV.'' Luckily she showed that she was not an easy victim. This sounds to me exactly like perpetrator behavior unfortunately-PLEASE report it. He could be actively molesting other children. You have to report-PLEASE

Dear Mama Bear, You did the right thing by reaching out for assistance in dealing with this horrible incident. Although I greatly sympathize with you as her mother and with the difficulty in coming to terms with this, it is with your daughter in mind that I write this. I was molested and nearly raped one time only when I was about 4.5 years old and then dated raped (as a virgin) when I was 17. I felt for a very long time that it was my fault on both occassions. Still to this day I think I still have residual guilt... You wrote, ''Between my daughter and I, I feel she is ok, or on her way there. She took it all on and thought of everyone but herself.'' I would caution you by saying most likely she is not ok even though that may be what she tells you. I pretended I was ok and talked about it freely in a detached manner for many many years. You may hear from professionals and I don't want to suggest that I know better, but for me this is something that stays with you your ENTIRE LIFE. It may seem that since it only happened once that she will be ok, and she might be, but, please don't presume that by her actions. Probably talk therapy would be good and on-going open diaglogue with you especially emphasizing that she did NOTHING wrong to create this and EVERYTHING right by telling you. I am now 56 years old. I know that my past has shaped who I am today for good and bad. Trusting people has been very difficult for me especially in intimate relationships. It infuriates me that young girls and women everywhere continue to fall victim to such violations and atrocities. When will this stop??? anon

I am so sorry that your family has been exposed to this horrible event. The police will know how to move forward with your friend's husband. He is a criminal and should be treated as such. You do not need to confront him yourself and create furthur drauma. There is a system in place to prosecute these people and expose them. I would start with that. Put this man's future in the police's hands and focus on support for your daughter. jodie

You've recieved lots of advice about calling the police, including the suggestion that they are very well trained in dealing with sexual trauma. We've come a long way since I was retraumatized by police after rape in the 1980's, but I think you should get some more help before letting them speak to your daughter. Bay Area Women against Rape has a wonderful program in which they will literally accompany you through the process while focused on the real needs of the survivor. These women know what they doing and have a good ongoing relationship with the police. In fact, if law enforcement has improved on this it is pretty much due to BAWAR's hard work and training. I don't know how they work with children but they will be a great resource to start with. I still rely on them periodically for counselling 35 years after the assault and they always seem to know what I'm going through when it feels like no one else does. She is so so brave for telling you, I wish you both every comfort you deserve. PS prepare to hear some awful ,stupid, vicious things from some of the folks you'd expect to support you (These are usually fear based and BAWAR can help you grapple with that too) Best Wishes

Recently learned my young adult daughter was abused by dad's friend

June 2011

I got married when I was 19 to a charismatic young man who ended up being emotionally abusive and an alcoholic. We had four kids together and stayed together for nearly 16 years until I had the strength to get out of the dysfunctional relationship. He would spend time with our children going to the park and doing outdoor activities, however he was like a kid himself and couldn't manage money or be relied on to care for the basic needs and demands of children and child rearing. He would hang out with his buddies and often take our children along with him when he'd visit his immature friends. My oldest daughter lives out of state and is in her senior year of college. She is a high academic achiever but had a tumultuous few teen years with depression, eating disorders and drug abuse, etc. I have supported her through every peak and valley as a single parent. Her father contributed literally nothing (time or money ) after our divorce. Though I have been the soul provider and my daughter relies on me for financial and emotional support she never says, ''thank you'' or even shows remote appreciation. This always hurts my feelings and she acts defensive when I mention it.

I recently found out from her sister that she was abused by one of her father's ''buddies'' and she apparently hates me, resents me for being with such a loser and not protecting her from what he subjected her to. She hates that I was so weak and stayed with him for so long. I had no idea! I guess since I was such a naive parent myself I wasn't even tuned into the possibility that his friends might abuse her. I feel sickened,ashamed and so sad. I don't know what to say to her as she has kept this a secret her whole life. She is now 25 and I have been divorced for 13 years. Her entitled and ungrateful behavior towards me now makes sense. Where do I begin the healing process. I feel like shit knowing her pain was caused by my lack of judgement and negligence. Sad Mama

My heart goes out to you; it's so hard when you feel that something you did (or failed to do) has hurt your child. It's interesting that the resentment toward the Dad has been deflected on you -- it was not really your irresponsible behavior, but her Dad's that caused the disaster. But you are the parent who took responsibility, and you are the one she feels safe enough to blame. In your place I think I would write her a heartfelt letter. This is a bit tricky, because it is not clear that she would want for you to know about the abuse. But you don't need necessarily to mention the abuse. You could just tell her what you said to the BPN community; that you fear that she had to suffer for your youthful mistakes, and that you wanted so much for her to have a good life and you tried to do all you could to support her, but you recognize that she must be hurt and angry about the past. And that you will always love her and hope that the hurt will heal. Or words to that effect. Just so that she knows you are concerned about her and your relationship. I wouldn't blame her Dad or go into a lot of explanation. But an expression of love and concern is usually welcome. Good luck in the healing. another imperfect mom

I understand your daughter's position, and it's a complicated one for you. My mother stayed in a highly volatile and abusive marriage for many years and my younger brother and I bore the brunt of his rage.

I did blame her for keeping us in such a horrible situation, and felt she did nothing to create a healthier home, especially since at age 5 I was telling her to divorce my dad, or kill myself - I was that miserable. I ended up being abused as well sexually by a male babysitter.

I think the best thing you can do for your daughter, during this pivotal time in her life, is to relish in her achievements, although you may have made it possible for her to accomplish her goals, what she needs is emotional reconciliation. Basically there is no price for being abused, and I am absolutely NOT saying that is your fault, in anyway. You did end the marriage and get out of a negative situation! However, how she sees it is, you were her only protector, her only chance to have a decent childhood.

Since her childhood is over, all you can do is put the hurt feelings aside, and let her go through her process and love and support her the entire way. I'm not saying to allow her to abuse you, but definitely not take anything personally. Accept responsibility for making a poor decision with whom you decided to have children with, but how proud you are of her for making better choices!

You should offer her the book, ''the Courage to Heal'', and you should read the book, ''allies in Healing'', offer to work with her to ''get her through'' the pain and anger she is feeling. I am willing to bet that she feels a lot of guilt for being angry with you at all, and has a lot of shame for placing any blame on you, but that reality is buried deep right now and I highly doubt she can really articulate all that is going on inside except for explicit anger and blame.

Remember that all things can heal, and heal much easier and efficiently with love and support and your relationship can develop into a strong and loving bond. You've had to struggle with a lot and it would probably be very helpful for you to seek guidance from a therapist. Sometimes, just knowing how much someone is trying to walk beside you in your time of need can make all the difference! Best of luck to you and your children empathetic

I, too, made a lot of mistakes with my eldest daughter. It didn't get better until maybe 3 years ago (when she was 26) after a lot of therapy on her part that helped her to ''forgive'' me. I, of course, repeatedly say how sorry I am, I never contradict her version of the past. It's done - it can't be changed, that's YOUR burden to bear. I can only make the future as good as I can. If you want to help her, maybe you could offer to help with therapy, if you can afford it.

Myself, I was abused sexually as a child and it's hard to understand how or why, but I never talked about it until I was in my 30's! It's wasn't something that I didn't remember, it was something that happened on a parallel plane to my life - the two didn't merge until I was 30. Hope this helps you to understand how your daughter could have suppressed or repressed feelings about it (it's a HARD thing to go through and live with) until now. Please be patient and I think you're on the right track asking here. Good luck! been there

tell her how sorry you are that you weren't a better parent (but avoid explaining why or making ''excuses'') and tell her that you want a better relationship with her. then be prepared to take some more poor treatment from her for a few more years. she may or may not grow up enough to forgive you. i had a similar dynamic with my mom. she was a crappy, but well-intentioned, young mother who came out of denial about her lack of parenting when i was in my 20s. (i was also abused.) i am now 40 and our relationship is much better. it's very hard to heal from because it isn't just a matter of her ''realizing'' that you love and support her, she also needs to ''re-parent'' herself- she missed out on some crucial parenting from you, and you can't ''go back'' and fix it. that time is gone. so do your best to let her know you love her and want to do whatever it takes to help her in her adulthood.

just as an aside, it's pretty healthy for her to be mad at you. so, while it sucks for you, at least some part of her has enough self-worth to know she deserved better than she got. (and the fact she's mad at you and not her dad is telling- she expects more from you, even though it sounds like her dad was the much worse parent.) you may want to go seek some counseling for your own benefit, to help you sort out your feelings of guilt. because really, the guilt won't help either of you long-term... anon

Wow, your post touched my heart. I think that you might get some answers saying that your daughter is old enough now to stop blaming you, but I will take a different approach. Stay in the moment, and don't start making excuses for your behavior. The fact is, you DID stay with a loser, and you and him both allowed the abuse to occur. What you can do now is apologize to your daughter. Tell her the truth. How could you have had the knowledge of how to be a better parent? What was your mom like? Was your mother there, the whole time, saying ''protect your daughter''? If she was, and you were stubborn and didn't listen, then again, say how sorry you are (to your daughter). If you yourself were not raised with a more protective parent, then that explains a little bit why you trusted this guy. You can offer the reason why you did not protect your daughter, and then a big apology. Let her know how much you love her, and regret your decision. I think that if you bluntly ask her forgiveness, and give her time, she will know how much you love her and will in time forgive you. Offer to help her to see a therapist, as a way for her to heal. Also, get some help for yourself! You sound like a good mother, who has insight and honesty and a heart which can hurt so much, when you find that your child is hurting. Let your daughter know how terribly sorry you are, and whatever you do do not blame her. In your conversation with her, when you apologize, do not bring up her bad attitude. Let her remember this conversation as being about you being sorry, and that's all. Let the ungratefullness problem go for another time. Good luck to you. sending prayers

Oh, sweetie. This sounds so hard. There's one thing I want to say and by golly I hope you can hear it. YOU DID NOT CAUSE THIS PAIN!! If her story is accurate, this scum of the universe caused her pain. And her Father didn't do his part to be aware while he was in charge. And then no one ever told you! Are you guilty for not having ESP? Being a mind reader?! Will you ever lose your guilt? Perhpas not, it sounds like you're an amazing, strong Mama. But I hope and pray to whoever's out there that you can come to peace. Counceling is where it's at. You need someone to help you think this all through. Is there any way your daughter would go too? Maybe some art therapy to really help you slowly unravel all that has built up. You did an amazing job, it sounds like. You know, it's a sad fact of life that Mothers get blamed for kids' hard lives. It just happends, especially in divorced families. We do all the work, worry all the time, pull double and triple duty, but it's still always our fault. Well, she's 25 now and there's nothing you can do about raising a grateful child. Too late. Chances are if you never worked it out, she'll figure it out if/when she becomes a mother. But until then, do as you alwasy have and keep trying. Maybe write her a letter about what you have said here. Tell her ofyour remorseand ask that you two work on it together. If she refuses, do your own work yourself. Just as you aren't responsible for your ex's chouices, you really aren't responsible for hers either anymore, and if she won't do it you can't make her. Start dealing now with who you are and how you feel. You don't need to carry it all yourself anymore. best of luck to you

As the adult daughter of a mom who stayed with her abuser 30 years-- my advice would be bring it up with her, and apologize for not protecting her. Never minimize her feelings. Maybe even tell her about this post. Then give her time and go from there. Support her decisions Around the issue and let her know that even though she is grown up you are willing to protect her now-- whatever it takes. It won't mwke a magical change but might go a long way. Good luck! Anon

I'm so sorry that this happened to you and your daughter. Here's what I'd suggest. Write her a letter, or if it's possible, go out and visit her (when she's not frantically busy with school work), and/or offer to fly her home for a visit. Go someplace just with her. Tell her what you say here. Tell her you are very, very sorry, that you had no idea, but you should have, that you were young, naive, negligent, and were just barely keeping your head above the water but it doesn't excuse that you couldn't protect her. Let her beat you up about it. Let her know you don't hold it against her. Let her know that you will do whatever it takes now to help her heal. Read some books on your own, see a therapist on your own, offer to take her to therapy or pay for one, or just find one for her. The good news is that you feel bad about it, as opposed to parents who defend the abuser. Ask your other daughter what she thinks you should do. She seems to know her sister, and seems to be a trusted confidant. Ask her the best way to approach the older daughter to start the healing process. Don't worry about the fact that she hates you and resents you now. That won't last forever if you reach out and let her know that you want to help, and that you're sorry. (Don't expect her to necessarily pop out of it immediately either). Don't expect her to be lovey-dovey initially either-she's been damaged. But on the other hand, don't turn into a doormat in your effort to put it right. Let her get it out of her system, make your apologies, then work toward helping her heal. Good luck with that, and good for you for wanting to do the right thing. Don't give up.

I am sorry for the place that you find yourself in with your daughter right now, and Im sure you never intended for this. You've already received a lot of good advice. My mother had 3 husbands, so I had an abandoning father, a sexually abusive stepfather, and a physically abusive stepfather. Mom could never see that the common denominator was HER. When I grew up and went to therapy, i worked through the feelings towards the fathers, and I moved on. With Mom, however, it took longer, mostly because she could never see that she was supposed to protect me as a child instead of throwing me under the bus for her men. I ended up asking her to leave my life until she could apologize. 3 years later, she did. Although we hardly talked about it, her apology was the thing that was needed for me to resume some sort of relationship with her. She went to her grave insisting that she had no knowledge of the abuse, but I remember telling her at least one time when I was in college (and my siblings still lived in that house).

My advice? I don't know if you are in therapy, but I would recommend this to you. Your daughter would appreciate it if you at least tried to look at your part in this, which is not to say that you're to blame. She needs to hear that you wish you could have been there for her, without making excuses. She needs to hear that you are there for her now and willing to listen to whatever she has to say to you. She is in a lot of pain, and she needs her Mommy. Best of luck to you both. Been There

I am sorry for what you are feeling, but your daughter is right. You weren't available, you were in denial, and you failed her. I was both the neglected and the neglector; so it is learned, so it is lived, right? Well, you know .. my advise is to sit down with that daughter and tell her the whole truth, about your youth, your naivete, your inability to see what she might have gone through... acknowledge your failings and your failures. Tell her that you are NOW able to hold her and listen to her and hear her. Acknowledge that she has experiences that you cannot make right, but that you can now be there with her and for her... I wish my mom had done this; and you know, I have done this (and continue to do so) with my son, who is now a father of 2. He cuts me a lot more slack than he should, but also has freedom to talk to me about things that he might not otherwise. The outcome of my honesty with him? He tells me about his fears, his feelings, and his experiences... he gets mad at me sometimes, but he always knows I will acknowledge my failures, and this lets him know that I am also human, not just his mom. Sometimes it's hard to be honest, but mostly, i'm just glad he still trusts me. Be honest, be vulnerable - - it might be painful, but at least you will have been honest. -- Anonymous crappy mom.

Recently found out my teen daughter was molested by my father

May 2006

I found out recently that my 15 year old daughter was molested by my Dad several years ago. She had been acting out a lot, so I knew that there was something going on, but I didn't know what it was until she disclosed this information to her psychiatrist. It has been very hard for all of us to deal with this and I wanted to ask for some specific help. Is there anybody on this list in law enforcement? Could you help me to know what actions we can take? I would like to nail my Dad for this, but my daughter does not want to report it to the Sheriff's office (he lives in an area not covered by the police department). CPS took a report from the psychiatrist, but all they did was to interview her and me and then close the case and refer it to the Sheriff's office (and they did nothing). If willing, please provide contact information in your reply. Thanks. BTW - My Dad did not molest me, but his Dad did. anon

I'm sure it was very upsetting to realize that your daughter was sexually abused by your father -- especially since you had a very similar experience. Your family is almost certainly eligible for free psychotherapy through the State Victims of Crime (Victim/Witness) program, since the crime was CPS reported. There is no statute of limitation for crimes against minors.

You mentioned that your daughter is seeing a psychiatrist, which is great, but if she's only being prescribed medication rather than psychotherapy she should be receiving psychotherapy as well, since sexual abuse by a family member is so devastating -- and please consider therapy for yourself as well. You could call the Alameda County District Attorney's office for more information about the Victims of Crime program and a list of therapists who accept this funding.

Clearwater Counseling and Assessment Services, at 510-596-8137, would be able to help you apply for Victims of Crime services and provide psychotherapy. The website is www.clearwaterclinic.com Sally Francis, Ph.D.

DId the abuse ever occur in any other city or county? If so, then a call to the police department in that jurisdiction would be warranted. Has the Sherrif's Dept. told you why they were not pursuing the case? You might have to be more assertive in getting them to do something. It is also possible that because your daughter will not make a formal complaint that there is nothing they can do. I hope your daughter is getting enough support and help for what she has suffered. Maybe it would help to further explore why she does not want to report him. As a survivor of abuse myself, I know it is very complicated, but both you and your daughter have survived an intergenerational legacy of abuse and reporting your father would help break the cycle and hopefully protect other victims. Do you have any other children, neices or newphews that your father or grandfather are in contact with? There are possibly other victims in your family. I am so sorry you are going through this. This is also my worst fear for my own daughter. anon

When I was 15 I was sexually molested by the student rabbi of my temple. He was about 27 and his wife was pregnant. On an over-night field trip I found out a girlfriend of mine was also molested by him when she was 12. One day in class she burst into tears and ran out of the room. I told my english teacher I knew what was wrong and went after her. I then called the Head Rabbi of the Temple and told him we needed to talk about what happened to us.

Eventually my father was told and eventually he took me to the police department of the town where the crime took place. The assistant district attorney of the county became my newest acquaintance as we got ready to go to court after pressing charges. To make a long and VERY emotional story short. I went to court to testify against the molester. I had to repeat my story for the umpteenth time, this time in front of a court room filled with people, including fellow students from my temple since a letter had been sent out by the Rabbi asking if any other children had been victims (I understand a boy was also molested).

While I knew I was going to court to, hopefully, prevent him from hurting others, it was one of the MOST awful experiences of my life. Looking back on everything, I honestly can't remember if I was given a choice. If I had to do things over I would have refused to go to court. Pressing charges & going to trial is a very long, drawn out process. It keeps the wound open that much longer. I know you are beyond angry about what your father did to your daughter. But, I don't know if 'nailing him' is in your daughter's best interest. I ended up doing a lot of irrational, dramatic and self destructive stuff in my young adulthood. Yes, I did go through therapy. I was never afraid of men and never entered into any abusive relationships. But I finally became a whole, happy and grounded woman only after becoming pregnant about 4 years ago.

I am 40 and I am a completely normal woman now, but I look at my young adulthood with regret. If possible, I would like my email address passed onto you thru the moderator instead of posting it publicly. My 2 Cents

Although I don't have any legal solutions for you, I just wanted to tell you that your post made my heart feel heavy with grief. I had also been molested at your daughter's age but by 2 cousins and a piano teacher. My point in writing this is good for you for protecting your daughter and standing up for her. I wish my mother had done this the day I told her but she didn't and told me to forget it never happened. This has affected me obviously the rest of my life. I wish she had taken action even though at the time I felt so ashamed of anyone finding out. Please do whatever you can to bring justice for your daughter and yourself. anon and still regretful

Hello: I am responding to your posting. As a psychotherapist I would be wondering whether your father has now been registered as a sex offender. I would imagine that your daughter must still be shaken up about what happened. Girls who were sexually abused as children often have difficulty standing up to their abusers (pressing charges,etc); and the challenge may be compounded because her abuser is her grandfather. Are you or your daughter concerned that your father might have access to other children and repeat this behavior? Have you and your daughter consulted a lawyer together to discuss your options?

Another question I had was whether you daughter has seen a therapist who specializes in trauma. This is an area I specialize in myself using EMDR as a treatment. If you are interested in learning more about this kind of approach, go to www.emdria.org . There is also another approach called Somatic Trauma Therapy that can be very helpful. This situation sounds like it must be very upsetting for your family. I hope that you and your daughter are eventually able to eventually find some peace with this. Ivan

I am a survivor, too and when I began to deal with the issues related to my childhood sexual abuse, the thought of confronting my abuser(s) in any way was absolutely terrifying to me! I think your daughter is very lucky to be able to talk to someone about this -

There's a website I highly recommend for both survivors and their families, it's isurvive.org and it is a moderated forum. You will find a lot of compassionate help there survivor

You don't have to wait for the law enforcement people to investigate-- you can call the district attorney in the county where it happened. Many have prosecutors who specialize in sex crimes. They can also tell you about the statute of limitations (how long after the crime you can still bring charges), which may be more complicated because your daughter is not 18 yet.

But consider carefully whether this is the best thing for your daughter. A prosecution could take several years to finish and be traumatic for her. Trials are often an unsatisfying ''he said, she said'' contest. There could be publicity-- there could be negative reaction within the family against her. Is your father penitent-- does he want to apologize? Has he had counseling? Have YOU had counseling to deal with your own abuse? Have you talked about it with your daughter's counselor? anonymous

My disclaimer is that I am a reserve sheriff, not a regular, but I have studied crimes against children in Peace Officer training. As you noted, there is a pattern to this abuse and not just an isolated incident in your family. This is common. Good you caught it now but sadly, emotional damage has been done. I was raped by a family friend in high school and it has colored my relationships for the rest of my life, despite mega bucks in therapy.

CPS took a report. That or contacting police or sheriff and then CPS is the correct first step. Despite your daughter's feelings on this, you should have him charged. I didn't do this in my case and I have always regretted that he got away with it and maybe forced some other young girl to have sex before she was ready.

Laws. California Penal Codes 11165 defines a child as under the age of 18. 11165.1 defines sexual abuse; sexual assault; sexual exploitation. 11165.6 and following cover Child Abuse or Neglect and the role of the mandated reporter. You have done the mandated reporting and a report has been taken and turned over the sheriff. I think the sheriff now needs you to ask that the offender be arrested. Explain to your daughter that this could happen to other girls and does frequently. I think it is about 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. We women need to band together and take these guys out of circulation.

Pen. Code 1203.1g covers Sexual assault of a child, restitution. Code 1000.12 and following covers Abuse and neglect counseling.

Feel free to email me for moral support and I will talk with my Lt. about it today (6/1) and get his take on procedure

I come from a family that has been distroyed by my father's sexual abuse. I believe it is your duty to report your father. Help your daughter in doing so. It will empower her to be in control as oppose as just a victim. Don't forget that he could abuse more people. I wish my mother had been as strong as you are. Your daughter is very lucky to have the most important advocate, her mother. My heart goes to your daughter good luck

My 17-year-old sister is struggling to cope with past sexual assaults

April 2005

My little sister has been molested at least three times and been on the verge of getting raped (seriously) about 10 times (including yesterday! I don't know what to do and what advice to give her. I have heard that women who have been molested/raped are more likely to have a similar experience again but I have no idea why or how. She is 17 and feels like she has a ''rape me'' sign on her. Also, what ways can she heal? She has had therapy and continues to go with some success but something else is necessary also. Also, two of her attackers from an incident 10 years ago go to school with her and every once in a while they will make a comment like ''remember that time . . .'' or try to touch her or hug her which of course puts her in a very awkward situation. She doesn't want to press charges (for fear of her safety) and she doesn't want to change schools (for fear of not being able to play varsity sports). I feel like my hands are tied. how do we heal?

I really feel for you and your sister. After my sister was mugged a few years ago, she and I decided to take a self-defense class together (after years of wanting to take a class myself but never getting around to it). My sister is 21 and I am 32. After hours of research the best one that I found for us was Impact Bay Area. You can find them on the web at www.bamm.org, and at www.impactbayarea.org

This class has had powerful and far-reaching effects on my life. I've learned very practical skills; how to recognize the signs of a potential attack, how to de-escalate an attack situation, and how to defend myself in the case of a verbal, physical, and/or sexual attack. But the most important change has been in my confidence. I now KNOW that I can protect myself. I used to work until 10 or 11pm in SF, and then commute by BART to my station in the East Bay, and then walk to my car across the parking lot. Before taking the class, I would nervously walk across the lot, thinking, ''Oh God, what would I do if someone grabbed me? or put a gun to my back? I would just freeze. I would have no idea what to do.'' But now I know exactly what to do. And I have actually successfully used my skills a couple of times since we finished the course!! The feeling of satisfaction that I got from being fully able to take care of myself and get myself out of a dangerous situation was one of the most empowering and proud moments of my life. I wish I had taken this course as a teenager. It would have been a tremendous help to me.

Impact Bay Area offer several classes pertinent to your sister's situation; a Boundaries class, a Basics class, and a Multiple Assailants class. We took the Basics class, and then I went on to take a Weapons class (in the case that the assailant is armed).

The Basics course covers the emotional, mental and physical aspects of self-defense. They teach full-force self-defense in an extremely supportive environment. This class proved to be very healing for all of us. And it's fun! I keep a picture of the women from my class up on my refrigerator and look at it all the time, very grateful to have come across this amazing group of people, and very grateful for my new skills.

I highly recommend this course for you, your sister, and anyone, any age, any gender, who would like to better protect themselves from violence. Check out the website. I'm so glad I did! Caitlin

When I was a young adult living in Boston, I took a course called Model Mugging. It was an incredibly empowering and emotional experience. During the course, each person learns how to defend herself from attacks - not in some fancy martial arts way, but in an effective street fighting way. The thing that made the course so powerful was that we had men who ''modeled'' for us as muggers. They wore protective padding, and we had to really HIT them with FULL force - I mean kick them in the balls and everything (I remember one petite 5 foot high woman who managed to lift the guy off the ground when she kneed him in the balls!) It was unbelievably hard to actually hit with full force - as women, we often shrink from violence and have trouble hitting back, even in self-defense. But the women in the group all supported one another and, eventually, we were all able to do it. Some of the women in the group had been raped or sexually abused, I had been date raped. By the end of the course we all felt transformed. I honestly think my body language changed in some subtle way after the course - I was never date raped again. I know I certainly felt more self- confident!

I think something like this might help your sister. Toward the end of the course, we each designed our own scenario to role play with the model mugger. Your sister could enact a scenario where one of her past abusers tries to touch her, and the group could help her figure out what to do - and, most importantly, she could actually do it in the role play. I think that would empower her in real life.

I did an Internet search and there is a Bay Area chapter (http://www.bamm.org/). If the people there are as wonderful as the people in the Boston chapter, they will (I hope) be able to help your sister. In fact, for all mothers of teenage daughters out there, I would HIGHLY recommend sending your daughters to this class. cc

I wanted to respond to your post as soon as I could. It sounds like your sister is going through a challenging time. I have some suggestions on what you might do for yourself or suggest to your sister.

I think it's great that you are there for her to talk to. It's obvious from your post that you love her very much and it's very telling how much she trusts you by confiding in you how she is feeling. It is very important to listen as much as you can to your sister and ask her how she would like you to support her. Maybe it's just by listening, maybe it's by referring her to an appropriate service, maybe strategies on how to re-establishing safety at school, whatever her needs are, really taking her lead and finding out from her what she would like the next steps to be.

Another strategy that might be useful might be having a person to talk other than you or her therapist, like a hotline, there are a couple in the Bay Area that are specifically for youth and/or survivors of sexual assault. San Francisco Women Against Rape Crisis Line (415) 647-7273, and Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR)(510) 845-7273.

Also, when someone we love is sexually assaulted, family members of the survivor needs support too. I would encourage you to receive support by calling the support lines I mentioned. They will probably have referrals of support for loved one's of survivors.

I really encourage you to continue talking to your sister and help her navigate the support she needs. Remind her that it is not her fault, she does not have a rape sign anywhere on her, and no one has the right to violate her. She has a right to be safe at school and at home. She has a right to not be violated and perpatrated at school.

Also, try to know your limits. Active listening is hard work, be supportive but don't take too much on. It's important to try to establish a network of support, through trusted family, friends, therapists, clergy, support groups, etc., so you are able to take care of yourself and maybe take a break from being the main support for you sister. Again, I strongly encourage your sister to access support for survivors of sexual abuse.

Your both in my thoughts. rebecca

Please call and have your sister call BAYWAR (Bay Area Women Against Rape) (510) 845-7273. Your sister needs help in learining how to protect herself and also deal with the ongoing attemted rapes and past abuse. There are also several self defense classes for women that incorporate sexual assault issues (past trauma dn and future prevention), like BAMM (Bay Area Model Mugging) and Hand to Hand.

Your sister needs to educate herself so she can protect herself. She can call the sex crimes unit at the police department and find out about their resources. Have these past 10 rape attempts been by the same boys? Are any of them over 18? YOu say she doesn't want to press charges in fear for her safety. But she is already in fear and her safety is in grave danger of another attack if she does not take action. It is more than likely that these same boys have raped or attempted to rape other girls at her school. anon

There are some great resources for people who have been sexually abused. Below are a couple of them.

**Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR) http://www.fembot.com/content/orgs/BAWAR.shtml

**Generation Five http://www.generationfive.org/

If your sister is interested, being a part of a support group for women who have been sexually abused can be quite useful. I know the Berkeley Free Clinic had a group of this nature some time ago and I'm sure you can find other places that run groups. Also, finding a good fit in terms of a therapist-client relationship can take some time and several attempts at interviewing therapists.

The Psychotherapy Institute in Berkeley (http://www.tpi- berkeley.org/) or the Psychological Services Center of Alliant International University/CSPP (http://www.alliant.edu/sfbay/psc.htm) might also be helpful. Anon

My friend's 13-year-old was sexually abused by her cousin

May 2004

I checked the archives for advice on this topic and did find a number for BAWAR- which I passed on, but I am very appreciative of any other resources that you may know about it. Yesterday, my friend (housekeeper, who I consider a friend) found out that her 13 year old daughter has been sexually abused by her (the friend's) nephew (which makes the daughter and nephew cousins). Her nephew (age 25) was living in the apartment behind her house with his wife and baby. My friend is devasted by this- as any parent would be. She isn't sure she wants to press charges as the abuser is her nephew (I hope a therapist or counselor can help her see why she must despite him being family). What resources are available to her and her daughter (and family- total of 4 kids)? Any recommendations of Spanish speaking counselors/resources are especially helpful. (She took her daughter to a clinic where she saw a dr and will, hopefully, receive follow-up care). Why does this happen??

If a police report is filed then the girl and her family can qualify for counseling through Victims of Crime. Any licensed therapist can file for reimbursement through this program. In addition, you might consider calling Child Protective Services yourself if you cannot convince the girl or her mother to do it. This man is a pedophile and his children and neice continue to be at risk. Susan

What you describe is a child being sexually abused by an adult. It doesn't matter whether this adult is family of the abused or not. You should report this immediately to the police and to Child Protective Services! This is serious and he could be abusing other children whom haven't come forward. I believe that if you or anyone who knows this is happening could be responsible for child endangerment or more. This is a crime not a ''family problem''. People need to speak up about domestic abuse, child abuse and the like instead of keeping things secret. Please advocate for this child and keep her safe by reporting it to the police! Concerned

I'm so sorry to hear about what has happened to your friend's daughter. It is great that you are making efforts to help them to find some good resources.

A good resource for counseling for your friend's daughter and for your friend is La Cheim Children and Family Services, which has an outpatient clinic in Oakland.

Your friend should also insist through every means available to her that her nephew go to a sex-specific treatment provider for an evaluation and treatment. Most likely your friend's daughter is not the first child he has molested (and without effective treatment, most likely not the last) and this is probably something he has been struggling with since he was a teenager or even younger. Treatment is not ''going easy'' on the abuser, it is what protects other children. Treatment from a sex-specific therapist has been found to be 88% effective with those who sexually abuse children. Insisting on effective treatment for known abusers is a crucially important step toward further prevention. Many abusers and their families have no idea that there is now treatment available that can help them.

I hope your friend will insist on an evaluation and treatment from a sex-specific therapist regardless of whether her nephew is ultimately prosecuted through the criminal justice system or not. More information about sex-specific treatment providers including a list of providers in California (and nationally) can be found at http://www.childmolestationprevention.org/pages/resources.html

For a thorough understanding of what causes molestation and what families and communities can do to stop it, I recommend ''The Stop Child Molestation Book: What Ordinary People Can Do In Their Everyday Lives To Save Three Million children'' by Gene G. Abel, M.D. and Nora Harlow. This book may be ordered through www.childmolestationprevention.org, www.amazon.com, or special ordered through any bookstore.

A few more good resources: Stop It Now helpline: 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368). The STOP IT NOW! Helpline is a toll-free number for adults who are at risk for sexually abusing a child, for friends and family members of sexual abusers and/or victims, and for parents of children with sexual behavior problems. This helpline service is confidential, available Monday through Friday, 9:00AM-5:00PM (EST) at 1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368). www.stopitnow.org Another good website with lots of information and resources is Darkness to Light at www.darkness2light.org

Please have your friend call the Parental Stress Service Hotline at (510) 893-5444. The Hotline counselors are incredibly warm and sensitive people who understand the complex emotions of a case like this, and they will be able to give your friend solid advice about her options and resources. Usually, they have at least one day a week where a Spanish- speaking person takes calls, and they will definitely be able to direct her to a Spanish-speaking counselor. I believe (and they will know better) that anyone who is a victim of a sexual crime is eligible to receive counseling services through the Victims of Crime Restitution Fund and that immediate family members are also eligible for counseling through this funding. I am so sorry for your friend and her daughter; I hope they both are able to get the help they need. I highly reccommend the Parental Stress Service Hotline to anyone who has questions about any child-abuse related issue; the counselors are fantastic at providing realistic guidance through ''the system'' in a non-judgemental and supportive manner. PJ

I'm so sorry about your friend's daughter and they are both lucky to have you as a support. I've heard many similar accounts as I'm a social worker with Child Protective Services and it is my job to take reports of child abuse. It is probable that a report has been made to CPS and/or law enforcement by the doctor that examined the girl. If CPS gets involved, the mother and child will receive support from a social worker and will receive referrals for therapy and other services that may be needed. There will be sensitivity to her language needs. Regarding your friend not wanting to press charges, if the incident is reported, law enforcement will do an investigation and will arrest the man if there is enough evidence to do so. It is very important that the girl receive professional support AND that this man is not allowed contact with children as he may continue to hurt other children, including his own, whether his baby is a girl or a boy. The whole investigation process can be very scary for the child and the parents but it is important that the child be protected. At the very least, your friend needs to keep her daughter away from the nephew. You are not required by law to report this information but I urge you to do so. The national abuse and neglect hotline is 800-422-4453. Good luck. AS

I highly reccomend the Ann Martin Children's Center. They are in Oakland - therapy for everyone in the family - sliding scale and I would imagine Spanish speaking. Tc

Check out www.stopitnow.org anon