Court date brings children’s abuse back to forefront

  • Sunday, December 15, 2013

Here I am on the last leg of my flight from my Denver visit, which this year included an especially delicious Thanksgiving dinner with my Denver family and the celebration of my eldest granddaughter’s birthday - congrats Maya, double digits. (10).

I left minus temperatures and glimmering snow. Also, had to say goood-bye to my buddy, their Charleston Pet Helpers transplant, now 12, pup, (Xena), and two more great big black dogs. There was Christmas decorating to beat the band. Of course, precious bonding time with my grand-girls and could be future grand kids - extending my trip so my daughter Shayna could go to Poland for business. Needless to say, a busy but wonderful visit. Don, your cooking and hospitality rock.

I stay in touch with clients, and continue to field questions, even when away. Here’s an important sample:

Dear Liz,

My children are sexual abuse survivors from my ex husband - it’s going on three years, and they got wonderful treatment through Lowcountry Children’s Center. It has been a nightmare, and fortunately, I got some supportive counseling for myself. The problem is, the trial just came up, and my kids are all riled up and afraid again. What can I do to help them get through this last phase?

P.S. They are very intelligent, great kids, who were “graduated” from the therapy program.

“Will it ever end?”

Dear “will it ever end,”

It is one of the worst things a parent, especially a mom, can go through. Combinations of feelings bombard you - hurt, rage, fear, failure, guilt (“why didn’t I know sooner - I should have known...” ) Sometimes it is further complicated because a mother’s buried history of sexual abuse can arise. It sounds like you taken the best action:

1. Believing your children and seeking the right help

2. Keeping your children in the therapeutic process as long as the professionals feel it necessary

3. Taking care of yourself with your own supportive counseling.

4. Being aware of changes in behavior - and seeking action.

I would suggest returning for a pre-court tune up. Lowcountry Children’s Center was formed to help walk families through the process appropriately and therapeutically as well as providing specialized care. Social Services should be able to help as well. My hunch is the accused’s attorney is pushing the issue for the children to testify. It is often a move to intimidate the victim and parent - kids are terrified to testify especially since so many have been convinced something really bad will happen if they tell. Well prepared, however, children can use the opportunity to take back their personal power (which can be very healing).

Most judges I know will use the recorded interview - one of the goals of LCC, so the child doesn’t have to go through further fear and trauma. It is a system I support. These kids have already been robbed of at least a part of their childhood, of their innocence, sense of security and trust, and have a risk of depression and other problems later.

I would reassure your kids that they will be okay no matter what, that they are heroes for telling and may even be protecting other children from being hurt this way. Get them into the Christmas/holiday spirit with homemade decorations and other positive family/friend activities. Keep their life as predictable, normal and light-hearted as possible.

This is just a blip (although a big one) in a long healthy productive life. You’ve already done those things that give your kids the best possible long term prognosis. For anyone seeking information please check out Lowcountry Children’s Center at: http://www.dnlcc.org and From Darkness to Light: www.d2l.org. It is never too late to really heal. And there is much we can do to prevent and properly respond to sexual abuse.

Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health.

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