Sexual abuse survivors often become estranged from family. It’s a common aspect of the damage as the impact of the abuse ripples outward in the lives of the victim and those close to the victim.
It’s normal. In fact, the perpetrator deliberately trains the victim away from family in much the same way that a wolf isolates a lamb from the flock before savaging it. After the abuse ends, victims often wall themselves off in countless ways. It’s how they cope with the extraordinary pain and internalized shame of what was done to them by a trusted religious leader.
No one would blame a stroke victim whose words don’t flow, and in the same way, no one should blame a sexual abuse survivor who struggles with relationships. This is something that does real damage to a person’s brain. Sometimes rehab work is successful, but sometimes, the success is limited. Sexual abuse survivors are not to blame for the damage done to them.
With that preface, I nevertheless take joy whenever I see relationships rebuilt and reconciled. I hope you, too, will take joy in the story of this mother/daughter duo from Georgia. Happy Mothers' Day!
The Daughter's Story
This is the 25th Mothers Day I have had to live with being the victim of molestation in a Southern Baptist church. This story is one of how a Mother/Daughter relationship seemingly irretrievably broken has been glued back together like shattered pieces of fine china as only a master craftsman could. That Master Craftsmen is God.
At 16, I fell madly in love with a young man from my large Southern Baptist church. He was sent to live with his uncle because his father was dead and he needed direction. This Uncle was a wealthy, well-respected member of our church. He began molesting me as soon as I started dating his nephew. Eventually the object of my affection was sent back to live with his mother.
The molestation and mental abuse and manipulation continued into my late 20's. As the molestation continued, my respect for my mother waned and my dissolution with God and the Church grew stronger. I couldn't believe that my mother was so blind and stupid to trust this Predator. Couldn't she see what he was doing? On the other hand, I wondered how could obeying my elders when in their care be wrong?
My personal life was a mess. I couldn't seem to do anything right. I had no idea how this had affected my psyche. Basically I hated myself, and also hated my mother for not protecting or believing in me. My faith in God had failed me. My family didn't know what was wrong with me.
Finally I had to leave town. I thought I could run from it. IT followed me.
My healing began in 1999 when my mother told me of another young victim.
This Mothers Day I am proud to say that my mother was strong enough to believe me, support me and most importantly love me. This Mothers Day, my mother is my best friend.
Mothers: please believe and support your daughters. You can't change what happened but you can control your reaction to it.
I am not running now. I am in therapy and I am healing. I'm fairly sure that the Master Craftsman has only a few pieces yet to glue.
The Mother's Story
In the Fall of 1998, I received a most disturbing phone call that changed my life! A friend of mine had just discovered that her daughter had been molested from age 11 to 15. She asked if there was any possibility it could have happened to either one of my daughters.
As the weeks went by and I thought about things that had occurred over the previous 17 years, a light bulb came on in my mind and became brighter as the months passed. By this time my daughter was 33 years old and a surgical nurse in another state. I wanted to ask her that dreaded question, but knew I couldn't ask until I could see her face to face.
When she visited in May of 1999, I asked her if indeed she had been molested. She began to sob and said "I didn't think you would believe me!!!" I assured her that I believed her.
The perpetrator was a “pillar of the church” and directed music. Ultimately, we were able to trace his deplorable actions back at least 15 years prior to the molestation of my daughter.
The healing process has been difficult, especially for my daughter but I am happy to say that she is making great strides in recovery through her faith in God and the counseling available to her.
When asked if there was anyone I had difficulty forgiving, my reply was "myself"! I couldn't believe I had been so blind and manipulated by the perpetrator. I felt betrayed by people I thought were 'good friends'.
Over the past nine years my faith in God has been my stronghold, and my daughter and I have a renewed relationship. Not only is she my daughter, she is my friend. I am so happy that my daughter found this website and then shared it with me!
To Mothers on Mothers Day 2007: Love your daughters, listen to your daughters, and pray for their protection every day.