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Daughter is Sexually Assaulted

Hello Mark:

This is a strange experience. That is, sending a stranger, albeit we believe, a caring stranger such as you, an e-mail.

My wife and I have used your program with our now 14 year old daughter, but not as fully as we could or should have. Nevertheless, we thought we had used our ‘poker faces’, and given ‘consequences’ lectures effectively, and that a real change (with constant and exhausting monitoring) was taking place. We had a real setback a month or so ago, in terms of inappropriate Facebook activities, and had our daughter cancel her Facebook profile and account.

This was disappointing, but again we thought it was one of a series of setbacks that we thought would diminish in severity and with time.

We were thinking a level of real trust was slowly taking hold. We were wrong! Today is Saturday evening. Yesterday evening we found out that our daughter and her only real friend, (according to her), a 15 year old girlfriend whom she has been very close friends with for the last 2 years, were sexually assaulted in August. The 15 year old girl told an older female friend of her mother’s on Wednesday. The older female friend of the mother left a message with the mother, but the mother only replied to her telephone call yesterday.

The police were called yesterday, and a female police officer took private separate statements from the girls yesterday evening. According to the girls, they were scared about the consequences of their telling anyone what had happened. Apparently the girls had first met 3 older men (mid 20’s?) on the beach. They called our daughter’s girlfriend, who obviously had given them her number. A week or so later, the men called to arrange to meet the girls in the city. They picked them up, stopped at a liquor store, and went to the beach. The girls played on the beach and then drank the liquor that was provided to them by the men. The men then took them to a cabin away from the beach. 3 of the men raped our daughter’s girlfriend, and 2 raped our daughter. The men then drove the girls back to the city.

We have been told that the major crime unit will be interviewing the girls this coming week, and speaking with us. Our daughter’s girlfriend was reluctant to do so, but revealed that she had the men’s telephone numbers and their supposed names. My daughter told me today that she and her girlfriend have concluded that it was not their fault that they put themselves in such a situation. At this point my wife and I have been supportive, and have tried to be careful not to condemn them. The interesting point is that the girls feel it is our fault, and the girlfriend’s single mother’s fault. That is, because of their previous activities, we have (we thought) been monitoring their activities more closely. They feel that if we had allowed them a freer rein to associate with their peer group friends, that they would not have gotten into a car with 3 older men and gone to the beach with them.

My wife and I are traumatized and confused. I started to look at your material again. Earlier last year, before we had your material, we went to family counselling to help our daughter, and realized it was a waste of time, money, emotional energy, and gave our daughter a chance to twist and tell tales. After I decided to look at your site again, I realized that I had not fully read all of the material. I know it seems easy to label someone, and to give a diagnosis, but the ODD and ADHD are uncannily accurate. My wife and I are basically teetotallers, and have not had trouble with the law.

We are in a quandary as to what to do next. We know that our daughter and her girlfriend will be given psychiatric assessments and counselling in the next coming weeks, along with an investigation as to the real identities of the rapists. Presumably a trial and court case will ensue if the rapists are caught. A few hours ago, my daughter, wife and I had another screaming match totally unrelated to the rape incident. Actually, our whole life with our daughter has been tense and stressful. It has been a combination of temper tantrums and screaming matches. The ‘poker face’ and ‘consequences’ suggestion helps but does not work all of the time. Our marriage has suffered greatly. Our daughter speaks rudely to me, but mostly to my wife, and has said many vicious and cruel things to her. Many times when my wife has cried about our daughter and our family situation, our daughter has sneered and derided her.

It seems that our daughter and her girlfriend feel relieved to tell their story about the rape, and now feel that they can go about their lives the way they used to. Today they are laughing and carrying on as though everything is normal. Our daughter told my wife last night that now she and her girlfriend will be more cautious. That was all.

What an e-mail I am sending to you, and what a surreal experience we have had since last night. My wife and I do not know what to do next. The real ramifications of the rapes will probably not manifest themselves until years later. We are concerned about this and know that this will have to be dealt with at a later time, but at present are more concerned about the here and now. We feel we have been loving and supporting with no condemnation, but know that the root of the problem with our daughter is still there.

We believe your program has a lot of merit, and know that each situation is different. My wife and I (even though I am told that there is always one more ounce of energy left in out reservoirs when we need it) are thoroughly exhausted mentally and physically. We also have an 18 year old son who has suffered along with us. My wife has stated that in order to cope with our daughter, she is going to give her notice to quit work at the end of this year. We know you are not God, but you do have a lot of experience in working with troubled teens. What would you suggest our best course of action to take is?


A confused and traumatized father and mother on behalf of a confused and troubled teen…


Teenagers and young adults are the age groups at greatest risk for rape -- especially acquaintance rape. About 50% of rape victims are under 18 years of age when they are victimized. Youths 12-17 are two to three times more likely to be sexually assaulted than adults. Most teenagers who are raped or sexually assaulted are victimized by someone they know.

It can be hard to help a child who's keeping a secret from you. Preteens and teenagers often turn to their friends to discuss deeply personal issues — and, unfortunately, something as serious as rape is no exception.

Perhaps your daughter fears you will get angry, thinking she "brought it on" in some way; perhaps you don't openly discuss sexual issues and she would feel uncomfortable telling you.

Whatever the reason, reaching out to your daughter and keeping the lines of communication open is crucial to your relationship. Let your daughter know, often, that you're there to listen and want to know if anyone ever harms her.

Someone who's been raped might feel angered, frightened, numb, degraded, or confused. It's also normal to feel ashamed or embarrassed. Some people withdraw from friends and family. Others don't want to be alone. Some feel depressed, anxious, or nervous.

Sometimes the feelings surrounding rape may show up in physical ways, such as trouble sleeping or eating. It may be hard to concentrate in school or to participate in everyday activities. Experts often refer to these emotions — and their physical side effects — as rape trauma syndrome. The best way to work through them is with professional help.

If your daughter has confided in you that she is the victim of rape, it's important to seek medical care right away. A doctor will need to check for STDs and internal injuries. Even if your daughter doesn't get examined right away, it doesn't mean that she can't get a checkup later. A person can still go to a doctor or local clinic to get checked out for STDs, pregnancy, or injuries any time after being raped. In some cases, doctors can even gather evidence several days after a rape has occurred.

Those who have been raped sometimes avoid seeking help because they're afraid that talking about it will bring back memories or feelings that are too painful. But this can actually do more harm than good. Seeking help and emotional support through a trained professional is the best way to ensure long-term healing. Working through the pain sooner rather than later can help reduce symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks. It can also help someone avoid potentially harmful behaviors and emotions, like major depression or self-injury.

Rape survivors work through feelings differently. Ask your daughter what sort of counseling is preferable: Some people feel most comfortable talking one-on-one with a therapist. Others find that joining a support group where they can be with other survivors helps them to feel better, get their power back, and move on with their lives. In a support group, they can get help and might help others heal by sharing their experiences and ideas.

The emotional trauma caused by a sexual assault can be severe and long-lasting. The victim may be affected in many different ways. Although each person is unique, there are some feelings and reactions that most sexual assault victims experience. It may be helpful for your daughter to know about these responses. However, always remember that even though many victims experience similar reactions, there are still individual differences in how people respond to the trauma of rape. Your daughter may experience some or all of these symptoms. They may occur immediately, or one may have a delayed reaction weeks or months later. The feelings may be very intense at times. Sometimes the feelings seem to go away for a while and then come back again. Certain situations, such as seeing the assailant or testifying in court, may intensify the symptoms or cause them to reoccur.

Initially, most sexual assault victims react with shock and disbelief. They may feel numb and dazed, withdrawn and distant from other people. They may want to forget about what happened and avoid people or situations that remind them of the assault.

There may be periods when the victim is preoccupied with thoughts and feelings about the assault. She may have unwanted memories or flashbacks and nightmares. When she thinks about what happened, she may re-experience some of the sensations and feelings she had during the assault, such as fear and powerlessness.

Many survivors experience intense emotions in the aftermath of a sexual assault. At times, she may feel angry. She may also feel afraid, anxious or depressed.

Some victims have physical symptoms, such as sleep disturbances, headaches, and stomachaches. They may find that it is very difficult to concentrate on routine activities. They may also experience changes in your sexuality, such as a loss of interest in sex or avoidance of sexual situations.

Fears about personal safety are an almost universal response to a sexual assault. She may become fearful in situations and places where she was never frightened before. During a sexual assault most victims feel powerless and/or terrified of being killed or seriously harmed. Afterwards, she may continue to feel frightened and vulnerable for a while.

Feelings of guilt and shame are common reactions following a sexual assault. Because of misconceptions about rape, some victims blame themselves, doubt their own judgment, or wonder if they were in some way responsible for the assault. Feelings of guilt and self-blame may be reinforced by the reactions of others, who, because of prevalent myths about rape, may blame the victim or criticize his or her behavior.

The victim may also feel ashamed. Some victims describe feeling dirty, devalued, and humiliated as a result of a sexual assault. Feelings of shame are often related to the powerlessness and helplessness victims experience during a sexual assault. Shame may also be a reaction to being forced by the assailant to participate in the crime.

Re: Alcohol Abuse. Please refer to session #4 in the online version of the eBook.


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