Do I Need to Forgive to Heal From Abuse?

“Healing may result in forgiveness but forgiveness does not bring healing,
it only covers over the wounds allowing them to fester.”
 -An Advocate for Abuse Survivors

I am frequently asked but others, have you forgiven your dad?  Sometimes I am even asked that question before people ask me how I am doing now?  Have I healed?  Am I living well?  Many people equate forgiving my dad to healing.  I find this way of thinking very sad.

If a stranger had raped me when I was walking home from school in first grade, would those same people ask me if I have forgiven the rapist?   Or if my dad had been murdered when he was serving with the military overseas, would they ask me if I had forgiven the person who took my dad’s life during a war?   I believe in those circumstances, those same people would be more concerned with how I was doing rather than if I had forgiven the perpetrators.

It is because the rape happened to me by a family member, so rather than being concerned if I am living well, the most important thing that some people think that I should do, is to forgive my father.  I do not believe that these people are trying to be mean, but I do believe that it is a lack of understanding that causes these questions.  Also many people want the survivor to forgive and forget and immediately be fine again.  But healing is a process.  I do not believe that it needs to take your entire life, but it is a process.

Many survivors go straight to forgiving their perpetrator before they have even acknowledged or released their own anger.  In these cases, their voices can be so full of stuck emotions, that every sentence that they speak sounds fake.  When they say, “I am fine”, I can see their sadness tucked behind their fake smiles.  By “forgiving” their perpetrators before feeling and releasing their memories and emotions, they can go straight back into pretending to live normal lives.  But all of those stuck emotions and memories will fester below the surface, waiting to really be heard and released.  Quite often those emotions and memories scream to be heard, sometimes causing survivors to turn to things such as food, drugs, alcohol or other addictive behaviors to push the emotions back inside.

Many survivors blame themselves for the abuse.  It is very important for them to realize that the abuse is never the victim’s fault.  They need to put the blame back where it belongs, blame the perpetrator.  They also need to forgive themselves, for blaming themselves and the guilt that they gave carried.

As a survivor, I do have tons of compassion for my father as a little boy because he too was sexually assaulted. I also have compassion for my mother, who was also assaulted as a little girl, though she claims to have made that up after I began to get memories back.  They both deserved to heal but it does not make it ok that my father went on to sexually assault me.

My goal as a survivor of incest, is to continue to live well, be happy, be present and to have my identity be a person who is awesome (everyone is awesome) and not a victim.  I was victimized but I am not a victim.  And if emotions come up from my abuse, I acknowledge them, process them and release them, and then I go on with my day.  I am no longer being a victim to get my needs met (a behavior that I was taught as a child).  My mother was always nice to me if I came home crying from school but frequently mean to me if I was happy.

Everyone can heal and have a great life but through acknowledging what is really happening inside not pushing it away.  When feelings and memories are acknowledged they are eventually released and survivors heal.  And then if they want to forgive their perpetrators fine, if not that is also fine.  But the goal is for the survivor to release the past and focus on their own life and acknowledge how awesome they really are.

29 thoughts on “Do I Need to Forgive to Heal From Abuse?

  1. Hi Amy,
    When I was  16 I was sexually manipulated by my cousin.I was young and naive, he was being really nice to me, making me feel good about myself and then it happened. We never had sex but I feel so angry with him.I have not confronted him about it though cos it happened a while ago and he’s already a spoilt kid, so it will mean nothing to him but to me it has affected emotionally. I get so frustrated because I want to stop thinking about but I just can’t. And it makes me really really angry.It has affected my relationship. Sometimes I feel angry with my self for allowing him touch me.I hate him soooo much but I just want to get over it,so I’ll move on with life.He doesn’t deserve a space in my mind,I want him out. Please what do I do. I need to move on. Please reply I need your help

    1. I will reply in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can try calling 1-800-656-HOPE 24/7 who will connect you with the local rape crisis center. They may be helpful or they may be very unhelpful. If they are unhelpful, hang up and try again later (volunteers change shifts.) If they are repeatedly unhelpful you may want to try another hotline at centers.rainn.org . Keep calling round until you get great help. You can also try the online hotline at https://ohl.rainn.org/online/ also 24/7 and click on “click away”. If ever people are not helpful, politely leave the conversation but know that you can heal.

        1. I will reply but it could take a little, sometimes a few weeks, if in the meantime try calling those hotlines. And read other people’s stories. Try the success story page and my other ideas for healing link.

        2. Hi Kween,

          I am sorry that happened to you. It is great that you have the clarity that he manipulated you. It is not your fault, at all because he manipulated you into doing that, do not blame yourself, manipulation of perpetrators can be very calculated to the point that you think that you were able to say no, when really everything was set up to prevent you from being able to say no. You can confront him of you want to for you, if you feel it will help to speak your truth to him. Knowing that most likely he will deny it, or say you made a pass at him or even call you crazy. It is never too late if you think it will be helpful to you. If you do choose to do that you might want to bring a friend, someone who will be there with you and be on your side no matter what he says. You do not have to confront him if you do not think it will be helpful to you. You can now do whatever you feel is best for you to heal from the event.

          Did you try contacting any hotlines? Was that helpful if you did? You can also try calling around to therapists and counsellors and see if any have the tools to help you to heal. I would stay away from the ones that want to label you with chemical imbalance because they will not be able to help you to heal. But instead if when you find a good person, when you are done with the session, there should be a feeling that if you work with them enough and take action to detox from the trauma, then you can fully heal. Anti-depressants, anti=psychotics and herbs such as St. Jon’s Wart are not helpful and could cause really bad side effects and ECT is never ok.

          Try doing the tools recommended at http://healingfromsexualabuse.com/ideas-for-healing-from-abuse/what-to-do-when-you-feel-triggered/ whenever you feel panicked. And you can try calling the hotlines as well.

          It can take some time to detox from the trauma of the abuse but it does not have to be a lifelong process.

          Also if you do choose to confront your cousin or tell anyone in your family or even friends, their reaction to what you say will be like a test to see if they are people you really want n your life. If they are supportive, then that is a good sign, If instead they tell you to forgive and forget, or say you are crazy, or you’ve always been flirtatious, or it is your fault or anything not supportive then you probably do not want them in your life, even if they are family. It is hard to heal around unhealthy people.

          So keep taking action and find an excellent person to work with. You might also want to do the workbook “Artists Way” by Julia Cameron, it’s a cool book and can help with some pretty cool exercises.

          Please feel free to write back with any answers to my questions, questions you have or updates.

  2. Hi, My name is Ann I was secular abused by my step father for 6yrs. ..It all started when I was 11 and continued till I turned 16 .My mother is a nurse which means she works late nights and won’t come back home till early morning when I’d have school.He told me by doing this were bonding as father and child.But he also told me that it was because my mother has been over weight since she had my little sister and I look exactly as she did…and reminded him of her…at first I thought it was my fault ..but lately I blame her for leaving me with him as her friends daughter was also sexually abused by her stepfather.I blame her every single day, I can’t even kiss a guy because the memories keep playing on repeat. I still live with them both as I am 17 ..I hope to leave for university soon and I’m never going to forgive either of them . Although I wish all the best for my little sister and love her ..I wonder if he would understand how it feels if her daughter were put in the same position as I. I hope I can forgive my mother someday for what she’s done to me!Lord knows I love and care about her still even though I’m still angry .I don’t know how to heal..but I hope I do someday! And I hope my stepfather isn’t judged too harshly at the gates of heaven…I do care about them both for the roof on my head and food on my plate !

    1. Hi Ann,

      Sorry for the delayed response. Please remember that it is a parent’s job and responsibility to put a roof over your head and food on the table. You do not need to thank them for that because they did not protect you. It is a parent’s job and responsibility to protect their child from sexual abuse.

      Have you thought about telling your mother what your stepdad did to you? By her response, you will know that she is either a real mom or an awful mother. If she is horrified that could husband could do such a thing to a child and will do what ever it takes to help you to heal, then she is a great mother. If she on the other hand, blames you, does not believe you, puts you down, tell you to forgive and forget or any other non-supportive things then she is not a real mom. Real moms would be horrified to hear that happened to a child but a real mom would also want to know though it will be hard for her to hear.

      “The secret” of your abuse is really the perpetrator’s secret and keeping it a secret only benefits the perpetrator and allows him to continue to abuse children.

      Also it is important to mention that there is an extremely high chance that your step dad is also sexually assaulting his own daughter possibly started when she was 6 also, even if he told you he never would do that to her. Pedophiles lie. Your step dad is a pedophile, so telling your mom could also protect your sister and other kids (possibly both boys and girls) that your step dad could assault.

      Pedophiles make any excuse to justify their assaults, such as you look like your mother before she gained weight. No matter what you looked like, he would most likely have assaulted you. That’s what pedophiles do.

      At university, there may be a rape crisis or counselling centre that may be able to help you begin your healing. If not if you are still in the England or Wales, you can try calling 0808 802 9999 noon – 2.30pm and 7:00pm – 9.30pm every day. You can also try going to http://rapecrisis.org.uk/centres.php . If you are in Scotland you can try 08088 01 03 02 6pm to midnight every day. Or you can go to their website at http://www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk/ . Remember that when ever you reach out for help, if the person is not helpful either hang up or if you are meeting them, excuse yourself from the meeting. There are excellent therapists but there are also mediocre and bad ones, so listen to how you feel when you are talking with them. If a hotline is not helpful, hang up and try again on another shift (volunteers change shifts) or even try another hotline. Keep reaching out until you get the help you need. You can even try any hotline to get support at centers.rainn.org but you might want to avoid the questions of where you are located and your age. If you want to confront your mom or even step dad, you do not need to do it alone, you can go with a supportive friend but make sure they are definitely on your side before you have them come with you. If they are a “you need to forgive to forget or put the past in the past” then they are not supportive.

      Keep reaching out for excellent help until you find it. Do not go to therapist that want you to take drugs, herbs, vitamins or some creepy ones even believe in electric shock, that’s a great way to tell you to run away from that therapist. But there are also excellent therapists who have real tools that can help you to detox the trauma from your body, those are the ones you want to work with. And that can change your life. So it’s time to focus on what you need to do to heal.

      It is not important that you forgive your mom for putting you in an abusive situation but it is extremely important that you do not blame yourself for being abused. Keep taking action to heal and find a great therapist to work with and you can detox that trauma from your body and have an awesome life. You will be able to have healthy relationships without those memories coming up. It takes time but it does not need to take a lifetime.

      Please feel free to write back with any questions or updates. Updates help other survivors and may give them hope.

      1. Note from blogger: Please make sure that you read to the bottom because if you only read the beginning you will not realize that because she told, she now is living with a person who cares for her and is glad that she told.

        Hi Amy ,
        I am sorry for this delayed reply .My life has drastically changed,and I believe it is a good change (hopefully).I reported the abuse to my school,to the safeguarding officer ,who sent the message of to social services and the police.At first i was so scared ,because all i wanted was to get a counsellor ,someone who can help me ,talk ,and then i’ll be back to a normal person.The next day I spoke to the police and they told me he may get arrested and that my mother and little sister would find out also.I was so petrified I had to leave the room to get some air.I wished I could rewind the clocks so I never said a word.I couldn’t ,what had been said ,had been said.I was put under care that day,and i currently live with an amazing family who are so caring especially about my well being and future.

        I had an interview with the police ,where i told them everything that had happened over the course of the 5 years of the abuse.I also got to speak to my mother .Everything she said was all I imagined shed say ,but i tried so hard to believe that she wouldn’t utter those words.She told me to deny what i said ,so everything could return to the way it was,so i would be back in the house and we would be a “perfect family “once again.She also asked me what had happened ,i described it to her.She said so there was no… (edited by blogger) and looked at me as if to say ,why am i making this a big deal .she then went on to list all my stepdad had done for me and my family and why I should deny all I said .He is currently sleeping in a car ,in the cold british weather ,with a heart blood pressure it is very likely that he can get a stroke she said.This is exactly what i didn’t want to happen ,because even after all he has done ,i do not think that he deserves that,and i feel he might be in danger but i did try to prevent that by telling the police i didn’t want anything bad to happen to him, all i want is help.He has helped my family and done good for others and for that reason he does deserve sympathy and help.But him sleeping in a car isnt my fault he could sleep in a motel ,b&b or at a friends yet he chooses not to.My mother thinks that i have been plotting this moment for a long time.She claims i am making everything up.Although each word crushed my heart to a billion pieces ,I was not surprised.During the meeting, when i met her for the first time after id been taken away for 2 weeks ,we finally met and she didn’t even hug me ,or tell me she missed me once.Every word she uttered blamed me for making her current living a hell ,although i had been living that way for 5 years,that didn’t seem to matter.Me being…(edited by blogger) by her 50 year old husband at the age of 11 did not seem to bother her .She said that i didn’t report anything to the police because i enjoyed it .I was supposed to be seeing her last week , to be honest i was not looking forward to meeting her ,as being blamed for everything was not going to do me any good.However i really needed to see my little sister ,i have not seen her for 4 weeks ,i miss her soo much and i know this is going to be hard for her and i want to apologise but i had to remove myself from that environment .I really want to help her and be there for her,but i also understand that her father wants the same thing ,and putting her in a position where she has to pick one is not a situation i am going to be placing her in .It`ll be so unfair on her and that’s not right. I have been thinking a lot lately about everything ,although i shouldn’t be , i should be concentrating on school work and thinking about my future ,but its so difficult not to ,when i keep getting told by my mother that everything that’s ever been wrong in her life was my fault.

        The reason i had to tell the school about what was going on ,was because i couldn’t do it anymore.I couldnt sit around ,and come home everyday and the slightest thing I do ,is made so major and i get lectured and told that i am nothing but trouble ,whilst getting hit by any object in sight by my mother .He would just sit there and laugh with her ,watch me cry and have the audacity ,to say that he cant help me out because i have taken everything to the extreme . I told my teacher because I have a friend from school who is very close with the members of the safeguarding team at school ,i told her i needed counselling or something and told her what was going on at home,she led me to report.

        After all of this i have found that i have never been happier in my life being away.I miss my little sister so much ,and I wish i was back home ,just because i could talk to her,and give her the biggest hug.I also wish i had my mother with me,being a mother and caring instead of blaming me for telling the truth and reporting whats been going on ,which is something she always told me to do ,and i have finally listened to her.

        Thank you so much for your support ,your website and email has helped me a lot.Reading the life stories of other members showed me a life i did not want,I do not want a life where i grow older and cannot have a relationship with anyone because i am scarred ,and angry at one man,but take it out on everyone else but him.I want to be happy ,without happiness from within there is noway i can truly make anyone else happy.I need to be happy with myself ,i want to feel safe ,loved,cared for,protected ,worthy,beautiful from within.I need to accept myself as Andrea and not the pain i have been through in the past.Without that there is no point in a careers in the health profession ,trying to help others when I cannot even help myself.I am going to sort myself out,get rid of this fear or whatever it is that made me too scarred in the past to tell someone i was being abused .Then i am going to start university ,graduate ,get a great job and start my life with or without my mother.She has the opportunity to be a part of my life ,and i hope she uses it,just as she urged my to use opportunities at school.I do want my mother in my life ,i want a mother to be here for me.My new foster carers are so loving,i call the female my auntie,she’s always wanted a daughter ,and the relationship i currently have with her within the space of 3 weeks is already better than my 5 year relationship with my mother.

        I am so glad that people like yourself are out there to reassure others that it is not our fault ,and to never feel bad for being abused ,but to understand that we were used and controlled by bad people,who had power over us.

        I am so grateful

        Anna

        1. Hi Anna,

          What happened to you is huge and I am glad that you are finally in a place where you are comfortable.  It makes sense that you are thinking about it a bunch because it is huge.  Now you can start to detox from all of the trauma caused by your mother and step-dad.    It would be great to not be around your mother or even talk to her because she sounds like a very toxic person. I am surprised that your sister was not taken away from your parents, I hope that she will be able to possibly come and live where you are living or another healthy place. Also throwing objects at your child and laughing at them is child abuse.

          You are very right when you allude that your step-dad is sleeping in his car to manipulate the situation.  Everything that happened to to your mom and step-dad is 100% their fault and not at all your fault. I’m am glad that you are getting away and breaking the cycle of abuse.

          It sounds like just getting away from that toxic situation has helped. You do not need to apologize to your sister for getting out. You did nothing wrong. It is your mother and step-dad who should be apologizing for putting you in a situation where you were being abused. Their abuse has broken up the family not you. If they were good parents, you would still be living there. Also your standing up against being abused may inspire your sister to do the same. No child should ever have to be around abusive people, at all.

          Please feel free to write back with any questions or updates. Updates give other survivors hope.

          1. Hi Amy,

            At this moment in time ,i cannot even concentrate on my school work as there is soo much going on in my head.My emotions are raging and all over the place,however the emotion that keeps coming up is betrayal.I feel as though i have betrayed my mother.I know that she still loves me ,and that she is still worried and confused .She is scared of loosing her husband ,someone who has helped her ,and saved her life as well as mine ,and i can understand that.I am scared of loosing my mother ,however i feel like she wants me to save my step dad ,from all of this.I do not wish for him to be in pain or to suffer ,it is the last thing i ever wanted.The only reason i reported this abuse is because i hoped to get a therapist or someone who could help to get the images out of my head,and to stop the replay of the incidents that had happened.It had been around a year after my stepdad stopped the abuse yet i couldnt stop the images and i just needed help for that,i didnt mean for him to end up in this situation.But so far i can tell my mother is confused yet she is trying to keep strong for my sister and I,but all she wants is her family together and i can understand that cuz all i wanted was a father i could go to if i felt uncomfortable in anyway,and not one that would make me uncomfortable.

            The first day we met she talked about me turning back time and telling the police nothing had happened to me ,so that we can be a family once again,she said if i denied it nothing would happen to me and we could be a family.Although there is no way i am doing this,because i am not going back into that house where everything happened , i can tell she still cares and loves me,but i cannot give her what she wants.I cant put myself back in that situation.I recorded the whole conversation we had on that day and now it is going to be given to the police. I feel i am betraying my mother and it feels awful . I am causing her so much pain, she cries each night and she is dying inside.This is all my fault.
            I feel as though if it gets too much I wont be able to stand it ,i fear for her mental health .I had a dream recently which scared me soo much ,.In the dream she walked onto the streets because she was thinking about everything ,how divided her family has become and how unhappy she has become,my auntie appeared in my dream where she just smiled at me ,as if i was to blame and this caused me to tell my current family i am with that everything was my fault ,and that i had led her to her end.If anything happens to my mother i will never forgive myself.I feel so bad that my little sister has been placed in the middle of everything,this must be so hard on her knowing what her father has done,and having her whole family being split up this way.I just wish i could see her and say sorry to her.
            is it bad that i have been away from my family for over 3 weeks now and the only person i truly miss is my little sister.I fear for my mothers health ,i also fear for the health and life of my stepfather,i hope they are both well.However until that dream , i did not miss my mother ,or being in that house.I feel happy now,but i feel bad because i have split up the family.After meeting my mother i do feel that maybe i shouldnt have reported the incident,since it wasnt going on anymore,it had stopped ,also because there was no penetration,others get raped by their biological fathers ,and stepfathers .I keep thinking mine isnt as serious ,as i wasnt going to get pregnant .Perhaps reporting and getting help wasnt worth it since this man had saved me when i was a baby ,and helped my mother and entire family.He was also the father to my only sister.I am always told to view him as my saviour,and thinking about it he is ,maybe i should have held it in till i left the house.That is what i wanted to do,but i wanted to get help as SIxth form is a crucial time in my life ,i needed to concentrate,and the images and scenes in my head were distracting, i needed to let them go but i couldnt ,i needed help ,it seemed it was getting worse as i aged,cuz i became more and more aware of how wrong it was.

            I feel happy now,i feel constantly guilty because i am happy and my happiness now is causing others to be in pain.The reason i do not want to be back at that house is because the images do not keep popping up unless i think about it .The environment brings no memory of any event.I just wish i could have my family with me .Turn back the hands of time where he doesnt abuse me , and were in the house we are now,with my beautiful little sister,my mother,and even him

            1. You are not splitting up the family, your mother is. What your mother is doing is so very wrong, she is choosing a pedophile over you. the guilt you are feeling belomgs to your mother and your step-dad and I believe that it is untrue that your mother really cares about you. A caring mother would have thrown your step-dad put of the house and have been part of sending him to the police rather than blaming you for breaking up the family. Shame on your mother. It is not your job to fear for your mother’s health, she made the decision to choose a pedophile over her daughter’s health, so she already has major mental health problems. A mentally healthy mother would have been horrified that her daughter was raped by her husband. Do not let your mother blame you for her being a mentally unstable, it sounds like she has been mentally unstable for a long time. A person who will throw objects at her daughter and laught is already extremely mentally unstable. I am still surprised that the authoritiesv are allowing your sister to stay with two mentally unstable parents.

              Is your mother trying to blame her mental health on you? I think the best thing you can do at this point is to not soeak at all with your mother. She is and has been mentally unstable long before you told what happened.

              I may write more later.

              1. Hi Anna,

                No, you did not betray your mother, your mother betrayed you. She allowed you to be abused and threw things at you and laughed, real mothers do not do that. It is so sad that she is worried about loosing a pedophile and not protecting her daughter from a pedophile, that is so wrong. A real mother would be horrified to hear that her husband did that to her child. You’re mother is and has been an emotionally sick person, long before you said anything about what she did. The best thing you can do at this point is to stay away from anyone who is trying to tell you that you betrayed your mother. It will be so much easier to heal, when you cut her and anyone else out of your life who is that unhealthy. Meaning if your sister is blaming you for this rather than supporting you for getting away from the abusive people then you need to take care of yourself. Anyone who is tryng to blame you for “breaking up the family” is toxic. You step-dad broke up the family by abusing you and your “mother” (put in quotes because she is not acting like a mother) broke up your family by not protecting her daughter and throwing things at you and laughing. Look for Dana’s story on my healingfromsexualabuse.com page (she’s an adoptive mom and her story shows the destruction of her daughter’s biological mother) and Veronica’s story also at healingfromsexualabuse,com homepage (she is a mom who just found out her daughter was molested by a family member and is devastated) that is how caring adults behave. Your mother is not in that category.

                You need to stop blaming yourself for the situation that your step-dad put himself in when he chose to abuse you. It is 100% his fault. His pain and suffering should have been from abusing a child, his pain belongs to him. Your mother is not strong for your sister because if she would throw things and laugh at you and not protect you from abuse, she is weak and not a good person. She should be crying every night because her daughter was abused by her husband and she has been terrible to you. She is manipulating you and it is very wrong. She caused you pain and it is all her fault. It is a mother’s job to protect her child and she failed at that. Do not speak to her, she is manipulating you in the worst way.

                You don’t have a real family, in real families parents protect their children, your mother never protected you and throwing things at your child and laughing is abusive. Whatever happens to your mother is her fault. She is being very mean, she had the opportunity to protect you but instead she is manipulating you. He might also be abusing your sister. Pedophiles rarely stop being perpetrators.

                She owes you an apology for being a terrible mother, you owe her no apology. The best thing you can do is every time you feel the urge to talk with your mother talk with the lady whose house you are staying at instead. No matter how strong the urge, do not talk with your mother. She is manipulative and has been mentally unstable for a long time. By talking with her she will manipulate you more and more. She owes you an apology but she will never give you one. You can also have other substitute things that you can do when the urge becomes great to communicate with your mother, talking to the lady here you are staying, talking to real friends who support you being away from your family, talking to the people you spoke with at school, doing things that you enjoy doing. Every time your mother’s guilt comes up or dad’s guilt comes up try saying to yourself that guilt belongs to them not to me. I will not hang onto their guilt.

                Your step-father’s health is not your responsibility either. He is being very manipulative also and has been mentally ill for years, he abused you. It was his job to take care of you, you owe your step-father absolutely nothing, he owes you not only an apology but amends but neither him or your mother will ever do that because they are blaming you, the victim. They are sick.

                Stay away from your mother and step-father and you will be able to heal. That means not even talking to them, no emails, texts, phone calls, visits, etc because they are and will continue to manipulate you. Also keep trying to find excellent help with your healing, meaning only therapists that support you in separating from your mom and step-father and have tools to help you to heal without anti-depressants, anti-psychotics or herbs like St. John’s Wort or even vitamins, because you dod not have chemical imbalance, you are suffering from child abuse.

                Please feel free to write back with any questions or updates.

                1. Thank you Amy,

                  i am so grateful for your replies.I do understand what you’re saying and to be honest ,this is the same thing my social worker said actually.she said to leave it for a bit..my mother refused to meet up with me .she claims that she thinks we should both calm down.which is fine.I think its best too now.I just really miss my little sister.I feel like my mother is saying things to her..i will be very disappointed if my mother gets to her head..which she is starting to do already.My sister told my social worker she wanted to see me..but my mother said she’s angry and doesn’t want to see me anymore.My mother still believes that i am making everything up..i didn’t even want to be fostered i just wanted to be healed..and now she is making it out as if i planned everything.i recently went out for fireworks and i had to sleep over,something id never done before because i was never allowed out even at 17 ..she claims its because she didn’t want me to get hurt and wanted to protect me .I sent her a message at 3 am  and she is now claiming that i stayed out till one in the morning  roaming around when i was at my my house on that day …worried about her .She’s been  twisting  everything around lately  to make it seem as though this is what i wanted to all along and like i knew what i was doing .Both my parents are so smart ..i fear that in the end they will believe them both and will take me back in that house ..this is what i feared this whole time.I have a recording of him asking me to strip ..and i shouted at him because i was so tired of doing it is recorded on my little sisters phone but my mother once said she would take it to ghana to give to  a family member .I’m unsure  if she has..however if she hasn’t then i’d like the police to review it.but thing is the police say that they wont put him in jail if there isn’t enough evidence  of abuse .He saved my life when i was in a hospital ,i had pneumonia when i’d just been born..my mother didn’t have enough money to bail me out..he provided her the money to save me.My mother would be helpless..she doesn’t believe she can make it..financially she would struggle. If she lost my little sister too she could not live .I will never forgive her for not believing me …she always claimed that she puts us first no matter when but its proven untrue.She doesn’t trust me .It seems i will end up with nobody..i am not strong enough to be alone.i cant make it.I need my family.It was bad enough knowing my father didn’t  want me ..my mother and sister leaving me is not gonna help me.Right now it seems she doesn’t want to be in contact with me..it seems she has said the same thing to my auntie and the rest of my family abroad that i made it all up they do not want to contact me anymore ,even when i write.

                  being rejected by family at this point in time is not a nice feeling .it kill me inside ,but i have to stay strong always on the outside ,sometimes i think that people take advantage of that because i show i am too strong and do not care,so they do not think i will get hurt .when the truth is i hurt more than anyone else..and i am more sensitive than they will ever be.
                  Im fast getting upset,its like everything is turning upside down …and just like my mother i am so scarred to end up alone.No mother ,no sister,no father.I want my family .
                  im trying to heal but there’s also so much going on ..i end up forgetting my work and university applications altogether and just thinking about everything that is going on.That causes me to fall back on my school work ..then i get more stressed so i think about what’s going on even more..then i feel even worse.I met my social worker yesterday and she said my mother still believes i made everything up..she gave me back my clothes  and gave me some money ,and said she didn’t have anymore money .this is what gets me worried because i know she isn’t too financially stable.she is going to suffer.but then it seems like she’s just throwing me out of her life..like ” okay she’s reported us and betrayed the family she can leave now” that’s what it looks like to me..perhaps im the only one who sees it that way.its been a whole month.i knew she was confused etc..but now it seems she just wants to take his side..and a couple of things doesn’t add up about him..and thats the only thing that tears her apart .because she’s worried that he may be lying to her ..and i may be right ,then shed have to think about picking my side.Its unreal for me when she claims i planned this.I must’ve been an awful child for a parent to think that way about me.Maybe i was too violent when i acted out and was being too much a teenager .I did things too and got in “trouble ” where they would have to talk to me .they were all down to me not communicating with them .she would always say take me as your sister not your mother and talk to me be open with me.But its so hard to communicate with someone you know and believe will never be on your side because she is so obedient to someone else.Its like i knew she wouldn’t be on my side but i lived in hope she would be ..The worst thing i think i ever did was to take slimming pills that she bought to try to loose as much fat ,butt ,and boobs i had because i wanted to look as manly  and young as i could ,because why would he wanna touch a young boy right.but that didn’t work it was worst at that point when he claimed i looked as slim as my mother used to.my stepdad found out because i started to look anorexic and my mother got suspicious too.they threatened to take me back to ghana.so i gained the weight again,but my boobs and butt never returned.When he stopped abusing me finally because he claimed he’d already had me,i wanted my body back because i was growing up ,and i looked like a male child in every way possible but it was to late so i tried all i could to look feminine again but everything was gone.and he made that very clear ,”whenever i did something wrong” he would say you’re too extreme because when you want something you over do it .when you tried to loose weight you took pill  now you want to be feminine again you’re too over the top with everything you do.

                  I think what i’ll do now is to avoid them ..try to regain confidence and focus on my work,because as my foster mother says now .work hard now become somebody and shame them when they see you in the future when you’re super successful because you were strong without them and did it on your own.

                  Thank you so much Amy ,i am super grateful

                  Anna.

                  1. Hi Anna,

                    Your mother may be lying about your sister not wanting to see you just to make you feel bad. I would not trust anything that your mother says as being true. You mother is a very mentally unstable person, the way she treated you and to say that you made it all up, again, I would not trust anything that your mother says as being true. You’re mother may lie about you as much as she can including about what time you stayed out until, mentally unstable people lie.

                    Did you tell the police that you have a recording of him asking you to strip? If possible, I would make of copy of him asking you to do that and give that to the police. It would be very hard for them to say you made that up if there is a recording of it. Though your sister may have been forced to erase it or your mother may have found a way to erase it also. What a sick man he is. You owe him absolutely nothing even though he paid some money when you were a baby. That is what he was suppose to do. He did not save your life, he paid a hospital bill. I also would not be surprised if part of that or all of that story is a lie because in the UK you have a national healthcare system and even in the United States (where our healthcare is pretty harsh) they would never not allow a baby or even an adult not to leave before they pay the bill, that would never even happened in capitalist United States. But if he is your step-dad that is what they are suppose to do, pay the bills, you owe him nothing, he owes you a real apology and real amends for abusing you which you will most likely never get.

                    You’re mother’s finances are not you’re problem, She has been a terrible and manipulative person and it is great that you are not around her now. It is also great that you are in a caring foster situation.

                    If your mother looses your sister, it is your mother’s fault for being a terrible parent. She can and probably would manipulate the situation to make it seem like it is your fault, but that it what terrible parents do and there is a great chance that she might not be believed. She is so mentally unstable.

                    It is absolutely true that she has not put you first, it is her little fake drama that she is playing the victim, while in truth she is abusive. You have a new family, your foster parent, your social worker, your friends, those are the people who care about you, you are not alone. You never really had any parents, it is only now that that truth can no longer be covered up because of your step-dad being a pedophile and your mother being abusive but that is who they always were. It is awesome that you are getting away from such a terribly unhealthy situation. To say that you had real parents, is not true because real parents would protect their children, your parents did none of that.

                    Anyone who does not want to talk to you right now is unhealthy and it is actually a great thing for your healing to be away from them right now. Sounds like your social worker is really supportive and so is your foster mom, what she said is right also. This is really a test to see who are the people who are good for you to be around and anyone not supporting a child/teenager to heal fro sexual assault and blame your sick parents, is not anyone that you want to be around.

                    A person is a terrible person who does not want to help a person to heal from sexual assault. Do not hurt yourself inside because the mean people do not want to talk with you. find the people who are supportive, build a new real support system. Without the bad people in your family. The people in your family do not care if you look strong from the outside or not, they would love you to be a victim. Survivors are often taught that if you want to get your needs met, you need to suffer. You need to stay away from the people who are not supportive of you even if they are family.

                    You are different then your mother, your mother did terrible things in how she has treated you, she deserves to be alone. She is not kind. You on the other hand sound like a great person, who is just going through a process to heal, you have support from your social worker. The way she supports you is how your parents were suppose to support you.

                    It’s ok to be a little in chaos now, you just left a terrible situation. PTSD is normal, do not let anyone try to give you prescription medication for that, instead you need to allow your body to detox from the trauma. If you want you can try some of the exercises on my post “What To Do When You Feel Triggered” at http://healingfromsexualabuse.com/ideas-for-healing-from-abuse/what-to-do-when-you-feel-triggered/ and you can also talk with your social worker about ideas of things you can you when you feel chaotic or when you try to feel bad for the things that your mother has put upon herself (like the possibility of being alone or financial problems (those are all her fault, not your fault).

                    Of course your mother is going to say that she thinks you made it all up, she is mentally unstable and sounds like she wouldn’t care if it happened to you even if she knows it is true. She simply does not care about her children other then when she is playing the victim. You can tell your social worker that it is too stressful to hear the mean things that your mother says, so please not to tell you when your mother says mean things like that. It is not your job if your mother suffers financially. It is her fault 100%, do not let her get you to worry about her finances. If she were a great person then maybe more people would like being around her and maybe she would have a great job. That is not to say that there are not people who are poor who are great people, there are but your mother does not fall in that category. If she is only with your step-dad for money, that’s kind of creepy too. But it is her fault.

                    I do not think that no matter what your mother even would have taken your side, she threw things at you and laughed, a sick person like that would never take the side of a child.

                    She says it did not happen but also blames you for him raping you? Saying you planned it, that is a thought of a person who is mentally unstable.

                    Be kind to yourself, if you feel chaos, remind yourself, it’s ok, you’re healing and have just recently gotten away fro a terrible situation. And you can take time to mourn the fact that you never had a real mom or dad. But also reinforce to yourself all of the people that are really there for you, like your foster mom, social worker and if there are others.

                    I am so glad that you got away from those mean people and it is sad that those mean people were your parents and I am glad that you have people who support you. Who are more like parents than your mom, stepdad and unsupportive family. There may be times it feels chaotic but you are starting to heal. Remind yourself of that and do not be hard on yourself.

                    Please feel free to write back with any questions or updates.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. I look up to you for coming so far and dealing with all of this. I really want to get to that point to. I have also experienced abused by both of my parents during my childhood and until now. I will start with talking to someone about it. Hope I one day can progress and feel happy again.

    1. Hi Olivia,

      Sorry for my delay in responding. Everyone who wants to and keeps looking until they great help can heal and then uses the tools to detox from the trauma can heal. So you can do it. I am sorry to hear that you were abused by both of your parents, that is not ok. Have you been able to find great help? If so, how is that going? If not, what did not work? If the person you were working with was not helpful, please keep looking until you find a great person to help you with your healing. Here is a website in Norway that helps survivors of sexual assault http://www.rcne.com/contact/countries/norway/ . As with all websites and organizations really listen to yourself to see if you feel helped in the way you want to be helped, if not keep looking until you find helpful help.

      You can also try using the tools on my post “What to Do When You Feel Triggered” at http://healingfromsexualabuse.com/ideas-for-healing-from-abuse/what-to-do-when-you-feel-triggered/

      Please feel free to write back with those answers and any questions or updates. Updates even if they may not seem like huge deals to you, can be hugely helpful to other survivors.

  4. Dear Amy
    I’ve just found your site and have found it really helpful to read, particularly what Denise wrote.
    I was sexually abused by my brother when I was young (I don’t remember exactly how old I was, around 5 years old I think); I am now in my 50s and realized 5-6 years ago I was becoming very angry with him, started therapy and was able to confront him about what happened. He did not deny the abuse and told me he was sorry and loves me, however cannot discuss anything about what happened and will not get any therapy help for himself. I then decided not to have any direct contact with him, while I continued on my own healing path (I also have had chronic fatigue syndrome CFS/ME for 10 years). I have been fortunate that I have been able to access the right therapeutic support for me, and over time I have been able to tell a couple of close friends what happened and also my mother and other brother, and have been believed and supported.
    My question – sorry to take so long to get there!- do you think it is possible to have some kind of contact/relationship with him in the future, without any of the anger resurfacing or being triggered by him? I thought I was ready and able to forgive him now, like Denise more for myself as I am very clear I am not responsible for his feelings/emotional well-being, however he recently came to a family wedding unexpectedly and I went through all the emotions I thought I had worked through and out of my system all over again in the space of a couple of days!
    Thanks for your thoughts

    1. Hi Seetha,

      It sounds like you have done a bunch of healing and I am glad that you have a person to work with on this, great therapy can be very hard to find. I will be writing a reply to your question within the next few days.

      1. Hi Seetha,

        Even though he “said” he was sorry, it does not seem like he is taking any actions to change, heal or make amends. And I was not there, so I cannot say for sure, but for him to say he loves you after confronting him about the sexual abuse does not sound appropriate. It would have been more appropriate if he said something like: “what I did was terribly wrong, it’s bothered me for all of these years but I did not want to bring it up for fear that it would re-traumatize you and I was not sure if you remembered it” and he should have wanted to get help without you confronting him about it because he felt horrible about what he did to you and was appalled that he could do such a thing to another human being. From what I am reading, it sounds like it could be a very empty “I’m sorry”. Though much more of a response than many other survivors get from the people who assaulted them, but that still does not make it enough or even sincere because of the lack of actions to back up his “I’m sorry”.

        It sounds very healthy to not have any contact with him, because he does not sound healthy. It is also great that you’re other family members are supportive, that is so important. Though I hope that neither your family or your therapist are recommending forgiveness as a way to heal. The only person that you must forgive is yourself, if you have held onto the blame or for the time that you kept the perpetrator’s secret. Both belong to your brother and not to you. Also it would be helpful to be gentle with yourself. Please take a moment to reread my post on forgiveness, I think it will be helpful.

        Forgiveness of the perpetrator is still very perpetrator focused and you need to be focused on being kind and gentle with you and not worry at all about him. It is so sad that first the perpetrator assaulted us and then we are suppose to focus on forgiving the perpetrator in order to heal. No, we really need to focus on being kind to ourselves and listening to what we need to do for ourselves to feel nurtured so that we can truly listen. Listen to your inner child who suffered from the abuse who needs to feel loved by you, not loved by the abuser. It is unkind to be in contact with your brother who abused you and has no interest in healing from being an abuser. Deep inside being around the person who abused you can cause fear and panic, it’s simply not healthy to be around an abuser who does not want to heal and make amends. Your emotions that you felt are valid being around him. I think being angry around him is valid, he has no interest in healing, it is healthy to feel anger around him. If you mean by being triggered, you felt repressed emotions coming up, then those should heal, but again, it is healthy to feel angry around a person who is really ok with the fact that they abused you because they are doing nothing to change.

        If you need additional help when your therapist is not available, you can go to centers.rainn.org and find any of the centers there to call, or visit https://ohl.rainn.org/online/ for online hotline or call your local hotline at 0808 802 9999 between 12 – 2.30pm and 7 – 9.30pm (http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/), if at anytime you do not feel helped hang up and try again later or try another helpline.

        Please feel free to write back with any questions, updates and/or successes.

        1. Dear Amy
          Thanks for your reply – it helped me get things clearer for myself, and so did re-reading your post.
          I do believe my brother does feel sorry (and very guilty) and yet is not able to get help for himself. So I do not want him to be part of my life for my own well-being, whether or not I am able to forgive him. Luckily my therapist is not suggesting forgiveness at all, and I’m learning to take care of myself.
          I just wondered how you coped when your father responded the way he did, and how you managed your relationship with him after that and kept yourself feeling safe?
          Thanks again – and keep up your good work!
          Seetha

          1. Hi Seetha,

            I put down boundaries with both my mother and my father of what they needed to do if they wanted to be in my life. For my dad, I told him that he needed to be honest about what he did to me, be honest about what happened to him (he told me a story about how he was molested but refused to acknowledge it as being molested), and he was not allowed to talk to me sexually. I guess he knew that he was unable to do those things. He called me once after I confronted him and left a message for me. I played the message for another person and she said it sounded like he was talking with a girlfriend who had just broken up. Sad and awful as it sounds he was unable to talk to me as a daughter and not sexually even after I confronted him about sexual abuse. (My play details my history with him with out anything graphic and my journey to remember the abuse). I never spoke with him again.

            For my mother, I told her that if she wanted to be in my life, she had to be honest about what happened to me, honest about what happened to her (she also told me a story about how she was molested but then took it back, saying that it never happened) and she could not hold the space that I was crazy which she had done since I was a very little girl. She is an extremely unhealthy person also.

            My life got much better after I no longer had any contact with my parents, it allowed me to heal and get more memories back. Which is really sad, because every child deserves loving parents, but it was healthier for me to get them out of my life because they had no interest in being real parents anyway. Real parents do not treat their children the way my mom and dad treated me.

            I strongly believe that there is no reason to keep an unhealed perpetrator in your life, it will only make it much harder to heal and everyone deserves a great life.

  5. Loved your article. I was too abused, in my case by the gardner in my parent’s house. Its humiliating for anyone, but in the case of heterosexual man, being abused by a male pedophile, its simply devastating to your sexual self-steem (I was abused w 8-9y and my little sister also with 3-4y. Forgiving was never an option for me, unless I am really really trying to be a “nice guy” and ultimately lie to everyone, specially myself. There’s hate inside of me, even after 30 years and the only thing that I consider fair is to direct this hate towards him and my parents that should be able to never allow their children in the hands of someone that was considered to be mentally unstable. The opening phrase says it all. I sincerely disdain any alleged “cure to childhood sexual abuse” that includes forgiveness as a necessary part of the healing.

    1. Hi Netto,

      I am sorry to hear what happened to you and your sister, that is horrible. I am grateful that you were able to write your story because so many men remain silent when it comes to being sexually assaulted and by your writing what happened to you it will help other men to speak out also. A website where only other male survivors speak out is http://www.malesurvivor.org/ But all abuse survivors are welcome to speak out on my blog. It is healthy that you are directing the anger towards the perpetrator rather than yourself, that is where the anger should be directed towards.

      I truly believe that people who were abused can heal. It is great that you are being honest when it comes to forgiveness, so many survivors lie to themselves. Healing from abuse is all about taking care of your inner child who was abused, listening to what are your needs and wants, being gentle with yourself. Other ideas for healing can be found on my post “What to Do When You Feel Triggered” at http://healingfromsexualabuse.com/ideas-for-healing-from-abuse/what-to-do-when-you-feel-triggered/

      People who are survivors of child sexual abuse do not need to suffer for the rest of their lives, unfortunately, there are a bunch of unhelpful and even bad therapists, social workers, etc out there that you can go to for help and not get better, sometimes even get worse, which leads people to think that they will have to live with the pain of abuse forever, but they really need to take other actions to heal. Even if you see a bad therapists for years, the chances are good that you will not heal because bad and mediocre therapists are not helpful.

      I was unable to locate a rape crisis line in your country, but you can feel free to go to the online help at https://ohl.rainn.org/online/ and they might be able to help you get through times when the anger or other emotions from the abuse come up and you have every right to be angry. Also try any rape crisis line in America or anywhere in the world, if a person is not helpful, hang up and try another line or call later when another volunteer is working, keep calling until you get the help you need. (You do to need to tell them that you are not local.) They can even get help with making plans to deal with feelings that come up with the abuse memories or feelings from the abuse that come up without the memories. DO NOT get discouraged, even if a bunch of hotlines or people on the hotlines are not at all helpful. Some people on hotlines only want to get you into see a counsellor, if you get one of those people hang up and try again later or try another hotline.

      You might be interested in this post from your country about wanting to start a group for male survivors there. http://www.malesurvivor.org/board/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=438469 People frequently in the United States have churches or community centers give them free or cheap rooms to have these group meetings. It helps to know that you are not alone.

      I truly believe that you can live a happier life if you keep taking action. Feel free to write back with any updates, questions, comments, etc.Hi Netto,

      I am sorry to hear what happened to you and your sister, that is horrible. I am grateful that you were able to write your story because so many men remain silent when it comes to being sexually assaulted

      I truly believe that people who were abused can heal. It’s all about taking care of your inner child eho was abused, listenning to what are your needs and wants, being gentle with yuorself.

  6. Hi Amy, I hope I can get some answers from everyone here as I never tried it before until I came across your page. My story goes a little like this and the question are in the end:

    We moved to America when I was close to 8. IN the first three years here, my Mom and Dad separated, we lived on borrowed clothes and furniture, and I learned how to speak English in school. About the the age of 10-11 (from what I remember) we started visiting my Mom’s cousins who lived 3 hours away from us. My younger sister and I would go there mostly on vacations as Mom and the other sisters were busy working. I loved the attention and food we got there, but the nights I dreaded as it would be time to go to sleep. So, in a house full of 4 men and two women, my sister and I would sleep on one bed in the boys room (we weren’t given many options) and that’s when he came…(into the story).

    One of the cousin’s (who later became my brother-in-law) would pick me up from one bed and take me onto his. I remember praying and acting to be in deep sleep, and then…(details edited by blogger)…and he would move be back. I don’t remember how many times this happened. As we got older and the families moved closer in distance, he started coming over more. He gave me the most attention, which I enjoyed as it felt good to be acknowledged in my family, and then he proposed to my eldest sister. THey got married, and things between us continued. He claimed to tell the whole world I was his favorite sister-in-law and they all liked it.

    THere are pics of their wedding where I am hugging him, but from me it was just love not sexual. HE gave me attention with a catch, with emotional and physical trauma…(details edited by blogger).

    Then came doomsday, in the 7th grade, soon after him and my sister got married, my other sister found a paper where i had written “I love HIM(his name)”. I remember going dizzy, as I had been “Caught”, and then came the questions and slaps. I was grounded and the next day I was left home alone so that I can take a call from his wife (also my sister) to get the true facts out of me. I remember getting the call and crying, but I don’t remember the conversation. And so it was suppose to be over..instead we go on a family trip and him and my sister display affection all over each other and the family leaves me walking in the back.

    Soon after he began again, this time telling me he has always loved me and only married my sister as I was too young but he can be close to me now. So continued the cycle, and the older I got the harder it was to get him to stop. He would love to babysit me and his kids as it gave him time with me(and I would have partial seizures which I thought was my guilty conscious punishing me for him). He would always find ways to be alone with me, or give me his attention and make me his favorite, all which I would hate. And whenever i asked him to stop, he would hurt himself and say he did it cause he loved me.

    At the age of 17 I made the mistake of going to go see him at his house alone, he had just came home from the doctor and I was concerned…(details edited by blogger)…I cried after it and once again told him he is my sister’s husband. The story kept repeating, until I graduated from high-school and took a trip back to my country with my mom. I was the happiest there and never wanted to move back, cause he wasn’t there! I loved the attention I got and even was proposed to, but summer break was over and I had to come back for college.

    Things continued with him also, and by the time I was finishing college, I hated him. I had a bf and would tell him about it on purpose to get him to stop, instead he would hurt himself and tell me that he can never see another man have me. My anger was the only thing my family noticed, never wondered why? I self-diagnosed my self with Epilepsy during my internship at College, and even then the family didn’t understand. I started making annual trips to my country to get away from it all, but still it didn’t stop. After having my first grand-mal seizure during vacation, I came back and stayed with the middle sister (who was also married and pregnant by now- she became a psychologist). One day she asked me something about him and I told her what can I say that will make a difference, and that’s when she started asking me questions. And I told her the entire story, it never stopped.

    SOon after, she got us three sisters (her, me and his wife) and my mom all in one room to answer their questions! I answered once again, I was sent on a drive with his wife to convince her, I gave her details, and he finally stopped. I moved back to my country a year later, but nothing changed in my family. THey all forgave him and wanted me to forgive him also. BTW I also was battling my life-long epilepsy, for which my family never took responsibility over. I dated men, and only with the intention of marriage, but i always scared them away. I got mad at my sisters for forgiving him and instead they said it was none of their business and it was the past. I came back from having stayed for 5 years in my country, and saw him at a family wedding. I talked to my entire family, but not him, but he stared and continues to do so. So here are the questions:

    1) Was it sexual abuse?
    2) Am I wrong to hate him?
    3) WHy can my family forgive him and I can’t?
    4) How can my family not know any better?
    5) THey still love him and even leave their kids with him alone?

    I thought I would have the strength to forgive him, but I can’t..more so cause he doesn’t seem sorry in any way and still stares at me and even talks to me in public, where he knows i wouldn’t answer.
    I am 33 years old, still single, and afraid to confront my family. He never…(details edited by blogger) but he emotionally molested me for 18 years. He…(details edited by blogger) and most importantly always told me I was his real wife and loved me the most. I hate him and don’t think i can ever forgive him.

    1. Hi,

      First of all you DO NOT need to forgive him to heal. It sounds like your family is forgiving him as a way to minimize the fact that he sexually assaulted you. Unfortunately, they sound more supportive of him than you. Your family, if they were healthy, should be furious at him and supporting you to heal from this horrible abuse. Just because your sister is a psychologist, does not mean that she is healthy. If she is truly supportive of you and your healing from the abuse, then that is good, but if she is telling you to forgive him and get on with your life, then she is supporting a pedophile. Yes, he is a pedophile, he sexually assaulted you as a little girl. That is what pedophiles do. They also frequently act as if the child they are assaulting is their girlfriend and/or wife.

      It is crazy that you were grounded, when your family should have helped you instead. It was not your job to tell his wife, it was your mother’s or father’s job to do that. In a family that is not healthy, quite often children will get “love” anywhere they can and that includes from a pedophile. So do not be hard on yourself that you wrote that you loved him. Sexual assault is confusing to a little kid.

      So to answer your questions:
      1) Was it sexual abuse?
      Yes, it most definitely was sexual abuse and you were just a little girl. Shame on him.

      2) Am I wrong to hate him?
      No, it is fine to feel how you feel. You need to feel anger and hate for a while, what he did was horrible and hateable. It is important to feel how you really feel and not pretend to feel a different way because it is inconvenient for your family, who wants you to forgive and forget. But by doing that other children become at risk. I am very concerned about your family’s reaction to the sexual assaults that he repeatedly did to you. A healthy family would support you in healing and be appalled that he assaulted you. But instead they are supporting the perpetrator. That is really bad.

      3) WHy can my family forgive him and I can’t?
      Because your family does not care about the safety of children from sexual assault, they should be appalled. Their forgiveness is a way of ignoring the sexual assaults that happened to you. Please read my post “Do I Need to Forgive to Heal from Abuse?” at http://healingfromsexualabuse.com/ideas-for-healing-from-abuse/do-i-need-to-forgive-to-heal-from-abuse/

      4) How can my family not know any better?
      It is not a good sign. Your family does not sound like a healthy family.

      5) THey still love him and even leave their kids with him alone?
      That is very scary that they leave children alone with a man who has sexually assaulted children in the past. Pedophiles rarely heal unless they take action to do so and he seems happy to continue to do so, even in the way that he continues to treat you (even though you are now an adult.) It would be a reasonable to talk with your local rape crisis line to get help for yourself and to figure out what you can do to help the children in your family to be safe from future assaults. Also if they have been assaulted already, the hotline can help get the children the help that they need to heal. It sounds like you are the sane person in your family amongst tons of insanity.

      So I would call 800-656-HOPE and they will connect you to the rape crisis center nearest to you. They have the hotline set up so that you are anonymous when you call (no caller ID, etc). If the person that yo speak with is not helpful, hang up and try again later or call another hotline from centers.rainn.org. Keep calling until you find a helpful person. Some hotlines only want to help local people, so you do not need to give them your location, you can say that you really need help and are not ready to give out any details about yourself. You deserve to get good help, so do not give up until you find a helpful person, who is willing to help you in what you need not what they think you should need.

  7. Dear Amy, I have been looking for answers for many years in an effort to help my wife find peace and come to terms with a childhood filled with violence and sexual abuse. The therapist we utilized was a great help and the confrontation she had with her parents face to face was an epiphany for her in trying to find the answers she deserved and craved. We are in our fifties now and although I fully understand these chapters never leave they can be justified to a degree, and assist in her going forward each and every day. My question for you is simple, how does she get some of her siblings to attempt to find the same answers she has. The chasm that exists amongst a portion of her family gives me the feeling that her rotten Father came out of this somewhat unscathed. Does a united front so to speak, assist in full healing? or should she just accept that they refuse to address what happened to all of them and go forward alone.

    1. Hi Charlie,

      Your wife is not alone without her siblings, she has you, a supportive and loving husband, which seems to me like far more love and support than her siblings could ever give her.

      I am sorry to say that there is no way to get siblings to acknowledge things that they want to forget. Her healing and loving herself, can plant seeds for her siblings but some people may not want to remember.

      One of my good friends when we were in high school told me about how her dad was abusing her. But when I saw her, only a few years later. she had a child, was taking antidepressants and had totally forgotten about her dad’s abuse which she had previously told me about. The problem is that now her daughter was also at risk of being sexually assaulted by her grandfather but by my friend repressing the memories of abuse she was putting her daughter at risk. The most important thing is to keep all children away from her dad (girls and boys). And honestly, to be healthy, I cannot see any reason for you or your wife to spend anytime with him either. Part of healing is spending time with healthy people and not spending time around unhealthy people.

      Her father may appear unscathed but no perpetrator can truly be happy. A part of them always is suffering.

      Are her siblings even nice to her or is there a fakeness. What do they say when she brings up the abuse? It is not healthy for a survivor to spend time around people denying the abuse. I am grateful that a united front is not needed to heal completely or else very few survivors would ever heal. Healing is about asking your wife what she loves to do and spending time doing things that she loves to do. It may also be that she needs to discover what she loves to do. The two of you can also share moments of things that the two of you or your entire family love to do together.

      It also can be helpful for you or your wife to call 800-656-hope and talk if you all ever need support in healing. Some people on the hotline are helpful and others are not so feel free to hang up and try again later if you get a person who is not helpful. These hotlines also frequently offer free support to survivors of abuse to help survivors to lived completely healed and happy lives.

  8. Hi Amy, Your post today caught my attention because forgiveness has been such a difficult part of my healing. I can relate to the questions you have been asked by so many “Can’t you just forgive him and move on?” Every time I was asked this, it hurt.

    Even so, I did experience a major shift in healing once I was able to understand forgiving didn’t mean condoning what he did. I forgave him for myself, not for him. It was a huge release and I am grateful I was able to finally reach that place.

    I am pleased to read you have found your own way to focus on your new life as a survivor, not a victim. Kudos to you, my friend!

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