A Response from the Father Whose Child Was Sexually Abused
Last month I posted about Jonathan, a high-school friend who is blogging about the aftermath of his then-3-year-old son having been sexually assaulted by a family member. Many of you expressed sympathy–and many expressed empathy, having firsthand experience with sexual abuse.
Some people expressed concern: concern for Jonathan’s son’s privacy, and concern for the offender, who, as several readers pointed out, may have been sexually abused himself. This is what Jonathan said.
“I have been overwhelmed by the support and kind words that my blog posts have received. There have been points raised recently that I thought it appropriate to address.
1. I am often asked if the offender was abused. I don’t know. My personal belief is that child abuse is a cycle where children who are abused become the abusers. I believe early treatment of my child in an open and honest way will break that cycle. I don’t believe child abuse is a natural behavior but rather a learned one. I realized a long time ago that there is no way of really knowing why the offender did what he did to my son. My hope is that the offender gets the help he needs to lead a productive life. My focus is and will continue to be in getting my son and my family the help we need to deal with the pain caused by the offender.
2. I have been asked several times whether I took into account my family’s healing when I decided to share my writing. My son’s healing has been and will remain my primary concern. I made the decision to post online after consulting my wife, my family’s counselors and my children. We all felt that being open about what has happened to us would remove the stigma of child abuse and empower us. Because my wife Michelle and I have always been open about what happened to their brother, what was happening during the court proceedings and to some extent our feelings, our children feel free to ask questions and share their concerns. In fact, two of my older children are reading over my shoulder as I type, pointing out run-on sentences and typos. It is my belief that my writing has not only helped me process my grief but it has also encouraged open discussion that sometimes happens at the dinner table. There are times that I am sad that talking about what happened seems so normal for us but I am proud of how each one of us has stepped up to care for the others.
Shortly after writing my second post, a friend shared with me his personal story of pain and how much he was helped by my writing. Any doubts that I might have had about sharing my pain, or being so open and vulnerable vanished. I have seen posts calling me ‘brave’ or ‘courageous’ for sharing my family’s struggle. Words like ‘brave’ and ‘courageous’ should be used for the survivors of child abuse who refuse to give up and those who stand up to their abusers. I’m just a dad muddling through life trying to do the right thing for my family.”
Image: Red stop sign with the word abuse via Shutterstock.
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