You see that title up there? Yeah… it’s kinda daunting eh? No one likes to talk about this stuff. No one likes to think that it exists, and no on likes to talk about when they’ve been a victim of it. This is so sad to me. What’s even more sad to me is that people continue to act like it doesn’t happen. It does. It can. It will. And chances are you probably know someone who’s been abused. If you don’t, you’re about to.
It’s taken me a long time to put this post together in my head. About a year in fact. And I’m still not sure I’m going to say all I want to(though I apologize for the length). Or say things in just the right way. Umm, I’m pretty sure I won’t do <that. I never do. But if you know me, you know this comes from my heart. That is is me, as I always am. Honest to a fault. Please, be gentle. Never before have I felt such a need to share something so much, but know that at the same time, it makes me so vulnerable. Thanks for reading. Thanks for listening. And thanks in advance for keeping negative comments to yourself.
About a year ago, my sweet, barely 4 years old daughter, came to her dad and I and confided in us that her paternal grandparents had sexually abused her. As I type this, I shake. I think about the feelings I felt as a mother back then. I think about the feelings I have today when I remember the tender conversation with my little girl who was so honest, and frank, clearly distraught, but not broken. So strong. Still so strong.
The following weeks and months were some of the roughest I’ve ever faced in my life. The perpetrators blamed me. I’m sure they still do. I don’t give a damn. D, in an act of pure strength I’m pretty sure he’s never known before, drew his line in the sand and confronted his parents. I’m sure one of the most difficult things he’s ever done. I’m still so proud of him. And when T ooks back, I’m sure she will be too. I’ll never know the amount of courage that took, but I’m so glad he did it. In doing so, he gave T a priceless gift that neither of us ever felt we truly had- the complete, never-ending, unconditional support of her parents. BOTH of them.
That same day we reported to the police, as close to verbatim as possible, what T had told us. With reporting it came the social workers, DHS, and phone call after phone call, after visit, after phone call with detectives, police officers, and a myriad of other people. I’d never understood how much goes on behind something like this after it’s reported.
A few months later the dust settled some and D and I did our best to reassure T that we were here. That regardless of whatever is going on between us, SHE will ALWAYS be our first priority. That even though people who should have loved her the most, did something so wrong, so disgusting and so vile to her, she was still whole. Still amazing. Still PERFECT. I felt like the blind leading the blind. While I dealt with abuse from my own parents growing up, I’d never dealt with anything of this magnitude. And certainly not with my own child.
D and I, simultaneously were dealing with the biggest fall out in our relationship. Compound those problems with the largest betrayal any human being could do to another, things were crazy between us to say the least. I honestly look back and wonder how we have been able to stay living together and not kill each other. My anger was unsurpassed by an other emotion. D got the brunt of that. So many questions, so many emotions, and so constant. It was like a movie reel playing constantly. Why we ever moved in with his parents for those 10 months when the abuse took place. Why I ever trusted them, after all the shit they’d done in the years earlier to me and D. Why I sacrificed who I was for such despicable people. I never keep quiet about my instincts. EVER. I did. For the sake of my relationship with D and the peace we needed to keep while we lived with his parents. Why, why, why and more importantly HOW. How could this have happened. In the 10 months we lived with them we left the girls maybe 2 or 3 times alone, and only for 1-2 hours at most. How could I have missed this? How could this have happened to my perfectly innocent little girl? How could I have failed her as her mother?
I’ve learned so SO SO much since this. I’ve learned that it’s not my fault. That perverted, sick people, will always be just that. Perverted and sick. I’ve learned that with time, things work themselves out. That time can heal things I never thought possible. That time can dull anger into sorrowed resolve. That time can help you find your voice again. That time can restore my faith in people. I’ve learned that T is whole. That she is still perfect. And her innocence can be restored. That her trust and faith in me are what drive my passion to help her. To do whatever it takes to make sure she gets WHATEVER she needs. At whatever cost.
As the tears stream down my face, I realize the greatest lesson that I continue to learn over and over again, is compassion. Compassion for the struggles T faces with her emotions as such a tender age. Compassion for D and the anguish I know he feels in his heart for being “responsible” for this, even though he is not. Compassion for so many other families struggling with the victimization of their children. Compassion for myself as a mother. I never thought this would be part of the job description. And oddly, and surprisingly enough, a tiny bit of compassion for the perpetrators. Ours specifically, but others who are racked with the kind of perversion it takes to abuse a child. Clearly these people are so ruined in their own minds, they cannot think with logic, reason, or humanity.
The greatest triumph thus far has been the help we’ve recently found T. There is this PHENOMENAL place call The Children’s Center. The people there are overflowing with knowledge. They are compassionate, understanding, caring, concerned, and every lovely emotion I wish we’d been welcomed with at the beginning of this ordeal. They offer cutting edge treatment for traumatized children. They offer a place for families to go and breathe a sigh of relief. They offer a solace that we have craved for so long. Few places exist like this in the nation. THANK GOD we are here in Utah, right now, at this very stage in our lives. Unfortunately I’ve come to learn on a personal basis, it’s because Utah has such a need for this place, that it exists. Sexual abuse, though not widely discussed, is so common here. The Children’s Center has been amazing so far. I can’t wait to see what else they have to offer T. She loves going. Her therapist(who has a PhD) is incredible. She is gentle and so open with T. She offers her tools. She tells her she is going to teach her to become a warrior girl. What T doesn’t fully understand is that she already is a warrior girl; my warrior girl.
I cannot say enough good about this place. I will however mention, that they take donations. If you are looking for a place to give, please consider them, even if you’re not local. Supporting them means giving them the financial help they need to continue their amazing work. To help families like us, and so many others, who would not otherwise be able to find the help for our most precious gifts. To show others around this nation how much is lacking in our mental health care system, AND how they can fix it. If there was ever a more worthy cause, this would be it.
I’m so happy now. So happy with the life we’ve rebuilt for T, and C. C was too young to tell us if the abuse also happened with her, but I suspect that even if it did, we’ll be able to overcome that too. I’m so impressed and happy with my amazing little girl. T is incredible. I cannot imagine the strength it took, for someone so small, to reveal something so big. She is my shining star. Every night when I look at her sleeping peacefully I thank the universe for choosing ME to be her mom. For preparing me to have the ability to believe her, to stand up for her, and to trust her instincts, and mine. We are quite the pair some days, both head strong and fierce, but I’ve come to learn, she’s wise beyond her years and sometimes it’s all I can do to not feel like a complete idiot. She’s so smart. She’s so strong. She is so incredible.
There is a song that came out recently. When it comes on the radio while we’re driving, I blare it. And I
sing scream to T just how perfect she is. That she should be nothing other than herself. That she should never change. Because she is just that- perfect.
“Pretty pretty please, don’t you ever ever feel
Like you’re less than (edited) perfect
Pretty pretty please, if you ever ever feel like you’re nothing
You’re (edited) perfect to me!”
In closing, I hope that by sharing our experience, it will open up others’ minds to the reality that surrounds us. That recognizing, and taking the shame out of being a victim, will give so many victims the knowledge that they are not alone. That this can be fixed. That they too, are perfect. Oh.so.perfect. I hope that it gives another suffering family the comfort in knowing there are places out there. There is help. And eventually, there is a light. Sometimes it feels like a flicker, but it is there. And eventually, the sleepless nights will fade. The anger will change. The resolve will get stronger, and so will you. The recovery will come. Slow, so damn slow sometimes, but it comes. And you aren’t alone. And there are those that have been there before, sending their love and thoughts and fervent prayers your direction. It’s a strange bond to have, but it’s priceless to me. The lessons I am continuing to learn are so invaluable.
To my T: You are the strongest girl I know. You are a warrior already. You have defied so many expectations of mine. You’ve pushed me to become better and expected nothing less. It’s my privilege to be your Mama. Thank you for all you bring to my life. You are perfect. You are a firework- thank you for letting your light shine, so so bright. You are all of my dreams come true.