The Impact of Sexual Abuse on a Family

Sexual abuse is not only an abuse of a child but also the abuse of a parent’s trust. Parents often feel just as violated and manipulated as children. I have seen many adult clients over the years who have struggled to deal with the impact of abuse on their children. To highlight this I have included below an impact statement from Natasha, whose daughter had been sexually abused by her father. I was fortunate enough to be a part of her daughter’s support network during the time the abuse was discovered.

Impact Statement of Natasha Anderson (Cassey’s mother)

My name is Natasha Anderson. I am a mother of 4 children. I have 3 Boys and 1 girl. I am married to a great man. I would like to tell you about the Impact this crime has had on myself and my entire family. I will try and be as brief as possible. Writing this is an extremely hard thing for me to do, but I will do my best.

The Impact that has affected myself and family are as follows:-
I am Natasha only by name, because anyone that knows me knows the person I once was, I am no longer. I have become withdrawn. I trust no one, absolutely no one. I am extremely angry, filled with a rage that is slowly eating away at me.
I have let my daughter down. I didn’t protect her.
I have been betrayed and used by some one that I loved and trusted.
My children all suffered in different ways. My eldest son could not cope with this and turned to drugs and alcohol. My second son he is just not facing it so he is in denial, my youngest just doesn’t understand as he is too young. My husband wanted to kill my father. He has resentment towards himself for not seeing anything.
My marriage is in serious trouble, the constant fighting, the mood swings by me.
I don’t sleep very much.
I dream constantly about trying to save my daughter.
I feel cheated.
I feel like this is all something that I should have been able to see but didn’t.
I had to tell my sisters and ruin their lives also. I have such guilt about this.
Cassey and I don’t talk very much as she doesn’t want to tell me things because she is scared I will hurt people if they upset her or hurt her.
He built a relationship up with Cassey just so he could manipulate her, told her that we didn’t love her and that he was the only one that did. This isn’t something that can be easily fixed. Cassey thinks because she told me about Poppy it is her fault that he is going to jail. She doesn’t fully understand that he is going to jail because he committed a crime. She thinks that because she took the money and gifts from him that it is her fault. Deep down I think she blames me for me telling the Police. It was my only option and this in turn has sent her Poppy to jail. How do we get past this?
I am lost and I just don’t know where to find that piece that seems to be missing.
This has altered everything in my life for now and for the future. My kids are sick of me being over protected and want me to lay off.
I am no longer living I am just existing and I hate this feeling of all these mixed emotions that whirl around in my head.
I feel very insecure and lonely. I feel like I am in mourning, like my father died, then something happens and it starts all over again.
Cassey is not allowed to stay over at friends. This causes lots of fights. I stand up for Cassey even if she is in the wrong because I don’t want to ever let her down again.
I do things to try and make myself feel better, like shopping but only maxed out the credit card. This only made me feel worse. I have let myself go in appearance having to really push myself to make an effort. I have to make myself get out of bed everyday otherwise I would just stay there.
I want this nightmare to never have happened. But we live in reality and that is not going to happen. I want to live again and be rid of this guilt and sadness.

One of the greatest ways you can support yourself as a parent in this situation is to get your teenager the right support. Don’t cover it up. Don’t ignore it. Don’t sweep it under the carpet. Once a teenager is properly supported parents can grieve and process their own emotions.

Although not all families are dealing with sexual abuse, most have to deal with some form of trauma at least once in their teenage years. Some of these situations may be extreme, while others have the potential to have an extreme effect if left unattended. I always encourage parents to be proactive and get them support quickly instead of waiting until the problem is out of control. Teenagers are rarely able to process pain well without support.

For this reason I have set up Youth Excel’s Life Skills Centre in Kallangur, Brisbane of which I am employing more staff now to meet the demand we are receiving. Although the Life Skills Centre will handle all sorts of teenage issues including sexting and plain old disrespect, it will also support families whose teenagers have been abused.

The Centre will be a multidisciplinary clinic because I believe every teenager is different and deserves to engage in a service which will work for them. There is also no reason why a number of these services can’t be utilised at once.

Here are some of the staff we will have on board by January:

Doctors (General Practitioners)

Clinical psychologists (able to make clinical assessment)

Psychologists

Counsellors

Mentors (who are youth workers)

Social programs

If your family needs support please fill out the form below.

Find out more at michellemitchell.org

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