My mom was gracious enough to write about her perspective as a parent whose child told her he was being abused. A bit of this was hard to read, simply because I think the world of my mom, and knowing that my experiences caused her this much pain was hard for me to hear. It’s something I always knew, but don’t like to think about. Sexual abuse does not only hurt the victim. Here’s what she had to say:
I am a single parent. When my son was an infant I promised him I would protect him from as many bad things in the world as possible. I then set about trying to keep that promise. I took parenting classes to learn the best way to build his self esteem. I made sure to attend all his sports/and school activities so he would know I was there for him. I helped him with his homework but didn’t do it for him so he would understand what he was learning. I played educational games, silly games, and tried to make his childhood as happy as possible. We didn’t have much but I made sure he knew that we had each other and that that was better than having things. I raised him in a Christian home and made sure he was comfortable with his church family too. I talked to him about all the bad things he might encounter in life such as drugs, smoking, and abuse. I bought him a book about how boys mature and made sure there were males he trusted to ask questions I couldn’t answer.
His father wasn’t around during his early years but did request to be part of my son’s life in his elementary years. I had a 3 hour discussion with him about consistency and stability before agreeing to let him be part of my son’s life. We started out just meeting and slowly built up to my son spending alternate weekends with his father and step family. I was therefore in no way prepared for the day when my son was in his early teens and he said his dad was having sex with him!
My first reaction when he told me was one of absolute horror. I felt like I had been stabbed in the back and that all the hard work I had put into raising my son had been wasted by his father’s actions. My second reaction which followed instantly behind the first was that I couldn’t help my son if I let all that anger and horror out. So I swallowed my reaction, and told my son that it wasn’t his fault and he would never have to go to his father’s again. I told him we would get the help he needed and that I loved him. I also told him that I would let him be in on all the decisions’ and choices that would have to be made and that as much as possible I would let his choices guide our decisions. I then tripled my efforts to build his self esteem. It was a very long time before I was able to take the time to grieve my son’s lost childhood and innocence.
When I did finally take the time I cried for a very long time. I mourned the loss of a normal father son relationship for my son. I mourned the loss of trust in the goodness of people, the fact that he lost his childhood at such a young age, and the lost time with his siblings that lived with his dad. I also had to deal with the fact that my own relationship with his father that resulted in my son’s birth was tarnished. I felt dirty, like I was somehow connected to the perversion of the man who did what he did to his son. I worked in the school systems so I had to deal with the issue on another level as well. All school employees are required to study the pictures on the list of local sexual predators. The first time I came across his father’s picture in that list I broke down in the meeting and had to leave the room. It was hard to explain to my coworkers what was wrong. It took a long, long time to work through these issues. I still cry from time to time about the injustice of what happened. I look at the awesome man my son has become and thank God for getting me through that awful time.