Sexual Abuse & Trauma

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Recently learned my 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.

Therapist for teenage girl who has been molested

Oct 2010

My 18-year-old daughter was sexually molested by her adoptive father. When I learned what was going on, I threw him out and filed for divorce. With therapy, my daughter has begun to heal, but she still suffers from free-floating anxiety, dreams that lead to sleeplessness, inability to focus on her studies, and depression. She also smokes pot more than once a week. I am looking for a therapist to work with her who has experience with sexual molestation and PTSD issues. East Bay preferred. Anonymous

I do have two recommendations for you. Barbara Maynard, 925-788- 9041, has an office in Berkeley and Walnt Creek. Someone once told me that Barbara is a ''master'' of PTSD. She is. Terry Trotter is another referral. Terry practices in Albany. She also is an expert in trauma, 510-433-7371. I also send support to you. anonymous

I would highly recommend Colorado Kagan, in the Rockridge area of Oakland. Michael Simon

Therapist experienced with childhood sexual abuse

Nov 2007

I'm hoping to find a therapist who has extensive experience dealing with childhood sexual abuse, childhood trauma, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am also very interested in someone who utilizes EMDR. It's time to deal with some issues that are affecting my adult relationships. A male or female therapist is fine, but I think a male might be best since I need to learn how to develop trust with men. Any recommendations are greatly appreciated. It's time to move, learn how to be happy, and get the most out of life...Thank you. Ruby

Candice P Pattee MFT, Berkeley, 510-849-9010 is a skilled EMDR therapist who treats issues you mention. anon

I can highly recommend Dr. Patricia Banchik who has a small private practice in Rockridge and sees clients primarily on the weekends. She has lots of experience with trauma, works with EMDR and is a great and caring individual. She is also bilingual in English and Spanish. You can reach her at 510-869-4666 Good luck! anon

I would highly recommend Dr. Jill Rodgers-Quaye, Ph.D. She is an excellent, very helpful psychotherapist in Oakland. I found her to be compassionate, straight-forward and easy to talk to. Contact her through her website at Good luck in your therapy! -Been Therapized

Hakomi therapist for sexual trauma

June 2007

Can someone recommend a female Hakomi therapist that works in the East Bay? If you have a recommendation for a mindful therapist that uses other methods that would be great too. I am looking for someone who has experience working with women who survived sexual trauma. Thanks, having emotional hard time

It depends on whether you want strictly psychotherapy - that's what I understand that Hakomi is, even though it is body centered, it's still all verbal intervention and talk therapy. If you are open to other forms of intervention and mindful therapies then Stephanie Shelburne would be a good. Stephanie uses bio-behavioral psychology mixed with integrated bodywork, and specific breaathwork. I have been working with her for months now and I can attest that she is a compassionate practitioner who specializes in PTSD treatment. Her website is She is very well rounded and has many interventions that are lovely and work in great harmony. Her office number is 510-864-0149. Louise, still very grateful

Deb Lyman, LCSW is a wonderful psychotherapist who uses Hakomi method. Her office is on Telegraph in Berkeley (near Whole Foods) and her phone number is (510) 594-4099. anon

Dealing with daughter's sexual abuse

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 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 . 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 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 mom is still with step-father who abused me

July 2005

i was sexually abused by my step-father as a child and while the topic has come up periodically throughout the years it has recently come to a head once again. while i have tried to come to some resolution over the years it has never been settled which i now believe is due to the fact that my mother is still with this person. he admitted to something years ago, but turns out that details were spared and my mother thought it was a lesser infraction than it actually was. he has now admitted to more after my mother asked for details and i pushed the issue.

so, my question to others who may have gone through this is how you handled the situation. i am finally beginning to find the strength that i lacked over the years and have told my mother that i could not have contact with her while she is still with this person. she claims that it only happened once with me years ago, that he's a good man and that she has spent so many years with him that she can't imagine him having to start over at his age. while she does feel bad, tells me she loves me and my kids, and seems symapthetic to my situation she chooses to stay with this individual. i am at a loss of comprehension as to how she can do this. if someone abused my children they would not be any part of my life.

this has been tremedously difficult for me, and i'm heartbroken over having to stand my ground, yet feel that i'm doing the right thing for my kids. a few family members have asked why i can't just have limited contact with her, yet it seems that i am then having a fake or partial relationship while having to choose which parts of her life to share with my children. if she does decide to leave him as a result of my actions i am afraid that i will then feel liable for her happiness.

i am not entirely sure how similar a situation people may have experienced but would love to hear their advice or recommendations. i think that if it weren't for my children i would just continue to coast but because of them i know that i need to handle this situation responsibly and with my family's well being in mind. anonymous

I was sexually abused by my father and my situation was a bit different, but I can relate to what you are saying and the challenges you face. I have found my abuse issues have differed as I have faced new life challenges, marriage, kids, etc. I think it is vital that you do what you think is right for you at any given time. This may change, but as an adult and mother, you are now able to protect yourself (and your kids) from abusive situations and do not have to give in to pressure from others. I am not saying it is easy by any means.

I think denial is the norm, explaining possibly why your mom is handling it the way she is. That does not mean it is okay. I have noticed both my mom and stepmom in different levels of denial over the years. The stronger I got and the clearer I set my boundaries, the more it helped. I also think it is appropriate to tell your mom the whole story, if you have not already done so. You have a right not to keep this secret and your mom should know what he did, especillay since she is still with him. No matter how ''wonderful'' she thinks he is, he committed a horrible crime against a child and that is not a small thing.

Re: a limited relationship with your mom. I think it could be possible if that is what you want. I think it is fine to have her visit you or your kids while saying step-grandpa is not invited. Explain to them in age-appropriate terms that he is .not a good person with kids, was not a good dad to you when you were little, etc. I have explained to my own daughter that my dad was not a good dad, that he did some bad things, and that is why we don't have contact with him. I will probably share more when I feel she is ready (an adult, maybe).

I don't know if any of this helps. Please know you are not alone, it was not your fault, and in my opinion, you have a total right to cut your mom off if that is what feels right to you. survivor mama

It is sad, but often others do not understand the impact of childhood sexual abuse - it especially hurts when your own family doesn't! I just wanted you to know, however, that it is very common and there's a website where you can get a lot of support, advice and encouragement:

It's a forum for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and it has been a lifesaver for me.

My heart goes out to you. It must be really hard for you and your feelings are probably even sharper now that your children are the age, possibly, that you were when your abuse occurred.

Safe hugs to you. survivor

Your mother is a weak women and is harboring evil. I fully support you standing your ground. I would also cut ties with those family members that support her. I am so sorry about what you have gone through and I am glad that you don't expose your children to such sickness. Anon

I'm so sorry you were abused and that it pains you to see your mother continue her relationship with this man. However, I think that in any situation, the only way you can be truly happy and at peace is to change your own situation. You cannot ask others to change for you. What this man did is terrible and probably can never be forgiven but there are people out there who have a sickness and hopefully he no longer has it. Your mother may be very happy with this man and it would be hard for her to leave him. I would say either limit your contact with him/her but don't give her an ultimatum that you may regret later in life. At some point, hopefully you will be able to look him in the eye or even just when you think of him, and know that he can no longer hurt you, that he doesn't have that power over you and how you feel about things. You can't ask your mom to leave him; she would have to do this by her own choice. So, you will have to find happiness and peace another way. anon

I am so sorry you had that terrible experience and that you still have to deal with it. Unfortunately you don't seem to have options that are completely satisfactory to you.

I think you have to ask yourself what it is you really want and why. It does not sound as if either of your solutions will really meet your needs, yet you are trying to find reasons outside of yourself for taking the position you are taking. Perhaps they are not the real reasons?

For example, how does it make you a better parent to stand your ground and refuse to have a relationship with your mother if she does not leave this man, as opposed to standing your ground and refusing to have a relationship with this man and having a relationship with you mother without him?

You were hurt by this person in the worst way. Perhaps you feel that your mother is betraying you by staying with the person that abused you. I know I would. I also know I would leave someone immediately if I found out they were abusing my children. Would I if I found out they had abused my children 15 years ago? I think I would, but I don't know for sure. Denial is a strong condition. And who knows what he has told her. You are expecting your mother to give up her companionship in exchange for what? Can you fill her needs? Will it cause her financial hardship? Loneliness? Other hardship? I think there is a lot going on for her and it must be very hard and very painful.

Perhaps by trying to take your mother away from him, you are trying to punish him for hurting you? Has this person shown any remorse? Has he apologized to you?

Have you considered filing charges? I don't even know if that is possible, but I would want to make sure he isn't hurting other children.

In short, figure out what it is that you want and need. Then perhaps the way to accomplish it will be clearer. anon

Women's group for sexual abuse survivors

June 2005

Hi. I've been with my current therapist for 3 years now. He's wonderful and I've benefited greatly from working with him. However, I've come to a point in my recovery where I need to work on my childhood and adult sexual abuse history. I'm looking for a group setting instead of individual therapy because I feel I would benefit greatly from being with a group of women who have had similar experiences and the group is being guided by a therapist. The only problems that I have encountered while researching this is: A. A therapist that does offer a group for sexual abuse survivors B. A therapist that will take health insurance for a group or has a sliding scale fee I've contacted the rape crisis center, Dr. Brenna Stien (she has a group but doesn't take insurance and I can't afford her rates), JFK Holistic center, Highland Hospital, my health insurance, etc. and I haven't found anyone or anything yet. I have gone to several slaa meetings including slaa meetings for sexual anorexic's and didn't feel comfortable in either meeting format(s). If anyone on this list knows someone that offers such a group and takes blue cross hmo, or has low fee group, please pass their information on. anon

How about ISA (Incest Survivors Annonymous)? As an abuse survivor, you may find their meetings more appropriate (even if you are also dealing with slaa issues), although it is a 12 step program. Also, 12 step meetings tend to vary from meeting to meeting, so you might shop around. I attended ISA meetings for several years and it was a tremendous help- especially the women-only meetings. anon

Teen sister's coping with past abuse

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, and at

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 ( 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)

**Generation Five

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- or the Psychological Services Center of Alliant International University/CSPP ( might also be helpful. Anon

Support for Parents Abused as Kids

May 2004

I'm wondering if anyone has some advice on navigating the difficult times of parenting when you weren't parented well? I was severely abused as a child (sexual, emotional, physical) to the point of running away when I was eighteen to escape and having to change my name and move around to keep safe. I've had over ten+ years of individual therapy and am very functional now. I'm not living my trauma on a day to day basis as is the case when one is in the early stages of recovering. I feel like I'm doing a good job of parenting in a way that is kind, respectful, and loving (I've learned this from re-parenting myself). Having a mindfulness practice (however erratic it is now with a 12 month old) sure helps. But more and more I feel out of my league now that my daughter is older and assserting her will. I have to do so much work when the urge to yell at her or be rough with her physically comes up. Sometimes to keep myself from getting angry at her I distance myself emotionally, but I know this isn't good for her either (and my own mother was very emotionally distant most of the time, so it's what I'm most familiar with). Both my partner and I are under quite a bit of psycho-social stress (financial worries, both finishing graduate school). I'm not looking for another therapist. Does anyone know if there are any support groups for parents who were abused as children--where it's possible to share about the emotional struggles that are unique to our situation in addition to all the typical things like where are the best parks, etc? If there isn't such a group, is there anyone who would be interested in forming one? Struggling mama in Alameda

I don't know of one, but I'd be interested in joining you. struggling mom, too

I would be interested in starting a group. I live in Richmond, CA. I was emotionally and sexually abused as a 14-15 year old. I also have had much therapy, and am therapied out. However, I am a single parent, with no family and no contact with the bio father (his choice). I have worked with the non violent communication techniques which help. My son is nearly 9 now and has some problems (ADHD, depression? and possibly some undiagnosed learning disabilities). He's had therapy since he was 4 and is currently attending a therapeutic summer camp. I would like to have meetings that include childcare (I will help set this up if necessary) and offer my house for the meetings. I also struggle not so much with hitting but with yelling, and I am interested in hearing from anyone else with this problem, who wants to work on it in a supportive, non-judgmental environment of parents helping parents. Max's Mom

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

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,, 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). Another good website with lots of information and resources is Darkness to Light at

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 anon

Man who was sexually abused as a child

August 2002

A man I know was sexually abused as a child, and needs a therapist to help him work through related issues. He also seems to have other psychological problems and may have underlying biochemical imbalance/organic disease. Can anyone recommend a male therapist who they think would be talented in handling past sexual abuse issues in a troubled man? Thanks.

I highly recommend Eugene Porter. I beleive he is still in Oakland. He is an expert in the field and has written a book on male sexual abuse. He is a very nice man and a good therapist (I saw him 15 years ago).

I can recommend this website for Adult Survivors of Child Abuse:

Woman who was sexually abused by her father

December 2002

I am writing in for a dear friend of mine who desperately needs to start seeing a therapist to help her deal with the lingering effects of having been sexually molested by her father while she was growing up. She thought she had dealt with all of the issues- but mainly ignored the problem because her dad was out of her life for many years. He is now back in her life and she is realizing that she actually has a lot to deal with- and wants to deal with the issues before she starts having children of her own. She would prefer to see someone who will not insist on confronting her father as the only solution. Oakland/Berkeley therapists are ideal. Thanks for any recommendations you can offer.

An excellent therapist who deals primarily with issues of abuse is Dr. Deborah Joy, PhD. She is in the North Berkeley/Albany area. Her phone number is 510 524-8282.

Its great that your friend wants to do work on her sexual abuse issues. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is a toll free number that automatically connects the caller to the nearest rape crisis hotline. The number is 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).In Alameda County the Rape Crisis center is BAWAR (Bay Area Women Against Rape). Their 24 hour hotline is 845-7273. Trained counselors are availible to talk to survivors of sexual assault and their significant others. It is completely appropriate to call and talk to the hotline when in crisis about a sexual assault issue, no matter when the abuse and/or rape occured. The BAWAR office is in Oakland and they have listings of local therapists who focus on healing from sexual assault. BAWAR also offers free, short term, individual peer counseling. They may also be holding support groups for survivors of sexual assault. The office # is 510-430-1298. I hope that your friend is not being pressured to confront her perpetrator, no good therapist (or friend) should do that. Confrontation rarely ''works'' and should be considered with great caution. Congratulations to you and your friend for dealing with this... anna