Repression or Recovery

If the the story of a child is not believed, or if the child victim recants, the sexual abuse may continue. It probably will continue if the offender is a family member. No threat is enough to get a perpetrator to stop offending. Only legal sanctions and treatment are likely to get the attention of the offender and promote the possibility of behavioral change. No promise will be kept. If the perpetrator is the father of the children, it is easy for the mother to believe the promise: "I won't do it again." He will. Sexual abuse is an addictive process.  

The alternative to recovery is to pretend everything is fine, to act like the abuse did not occur, and to expect the child victim to "get over it." It is probable that the result will be devastating consequences to the child. The abuse occurred, and things are not fine! The child may repress the memory of the abuse and go on as if nothing is wrong, but the effects will be present in her life, both now and later. Sometimes the child is able to repress the memories of sexual abuse for years.

If care is not taken to protect the child, she may continue to be sexually abused by the perpetrator. She also may become a victim of other forms of abuse during her adult life or she may abuse herself through alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity, eating disorders, cutting, and suicide attempts.

In order for the child to recover from the sexual abuse and avoid some of the longer-lasting consequences, counseling is necessary. The child needs to process through the aftermath of the abuse and feelings related to it. Individual, group, and family counseling is effective in helping victim, mother, and other family members. Recovery is possible, but it is difficult. 


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