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#251175 - 09/26/08 08:32 AM What's missing?
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
This section is from my book in a chapter for the parents of abused children. Although the chapter focuses more on the present (for the parent who finds out his child has been abused), I realize that the majority of readers will be adults-- survivors and perhaps their loved ones who want some guidance on how to help the adult survivor who has disclosed (or maybe some ways the loved one can help the survivor disclose to them if he hasn't).

The purpose of this section is to give the loved ones some advice. What I'd like from you, is some input or advice you'd give the parent of the adult survivor. There is a seperate chapter for the partners so I really don't need suggestions about dealing with porn, avoidance, etc with the survivor.

Thanks,
Ken

When Your Adult Child Discloses

Many adult survivors who have not told their parents of the abuse when it occurred have anguished about telling them now. Some fear that they will not be believed, or that they will somehow be blamed for “participating” or not disclosing when it occurred. The survivor may also fear family members taking sides if the abuser was a relative.

Sometimes the hesitancy is based on concerns that the news might cause the parent to have a heart attack or that telling them might somehow hasten their deaths. Another factor may be the survivor’s sense that the parent might press him for details he would rather not discuss. Although many parents will want details, it is the survivor’s prerogative to decide how much information he will disclose. Telling the survivor that you are willing to hear whatever he wants to tell you is a good place to start. If, on the other hand, the parent feels it is “too much information”, it would be wise to simply say, “I really don’t want to hear the gory details, if you don’t mind.”

As with the child victim who discloses shortly after the abuse happened, the parent of the adult child should be supportive and believing. The parent of the adult survivor should realize that their son had good reasons to keep the information a secret. Whether or not the reasons seem valid to you, remember that he has lived with the secret for many years.

Perhaps the best thing a parent of the adult survivor can say is, “How can I help you with this?,” or, “What can I do for you?” If he doesn’t know what you can do, the best thing you can do is to be a good listener if he wants to talk about it. Don’t press him to talk about it when he doesn’t want to. Don’t be judgmental and assume he hates the abuser. Many survivors have ambivalent feelings towards the perpetrator, who may have been a teacher, coach, scoutmaster, relative, or other person with whom he could have had some positive experiences. He may also be unwilling to disclose the identity of the perpetrator. Try not to speculate (“Was it Uncle Harry, or Father Stephen, or that baseball coach you had when you were twelve?”)

One survivor I worked with who was abused by his older brother wanted to bring his mother to a session. Although she knew he was in therapy, she did not know why. During the session he disclosed to her that he had been abused, and she appropriately said, “I’m so sorry to hear that.” He then told her that it was her older son. She looked sad and said, “I suspected he might have done that, but I thought he did something to your sister.” She then asked him what he would like her to do. He told her he only wanted her to know and really didn’t think she could or should do anything. Confronting his brother, he said, was going to be his job.

His goal for disclosing the abuse to her was to give her advance notice so that when he confronted his brother, she could be prepared for any consequences that followed. Although she wanted to help, he told her he would let her know what was going on when he had something to say. Otherwise, he wanted her to treat him and his brother as she had before.

The decision of an adult survivor to disclose to his parent is often a difficult one to make. If your son has maintained this secret for many years, don’t take it personally. It is really not that important to know why he declined to tell you. For whatever reason, he has come to the decision to tell you now and he primarily needs to know that you believe him and support him. Be sympathetic and let him tell you what you can do. It might be nothing. That’s okay. He just needs you to know, and since disclosure is about his taking control of a situation that was not in his control years ago, just accept it as part of his healing.

One adult survivor who disclosed to his parents when he was in his 50s (see Chapter 15) said that he just wanted to hear that they loved him and would believe him. Asked what specifically they could do, he said that hearing that they loved him and that it wasn’t his fault was the most important message they could



Edited by Ken Singer, LCSW (09/26/08 08:34 AM)

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#251179 - 09/26/08 08:39 AM Re: What's missing? [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
OKIE MIKE Offline
Member

Registered: 02/13/04
Posts: 982
Loc: HULBERT OK
I was 46 when I told my Father about me being raped. That is the only time I ever seen Him cry. Sometimes wish that I would have kept from Him

_________________________
MICHAEL

"I HAD NO SHOES THEN I SAW A MAN THAT HAD NO FEET"

"All I can do is be me, whoever that is"

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#251200 - 09/26/08 09:27 AM Re: What's missing? [Re: OKIE MIKE]
M3 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/04/07
Posts: 1392
Loc: Central Ohio
I've got a couple of parents I wish had read this first.

My father cut off all communication with me and my mother simply says, "I don't understand, other kids of been abused and they're alright. What's your problem?"

That chapter is going to be invaluable Ken. Thank you!!

Michael


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#251205 - 09/26/08 09:57 AM Re: What's missing? [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
Morning Star Offline
Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 1124
Loc: Home
Bless you Ken, for this, and everything else you bring to MS!

\:\)

MS

_________________________
~ It's over!...Let go of Thy Past, Remember Thy Self ~

Why Don't People Heal, by Caroline Myss; 30 days to clean up your vibrations - Abraham-Hicks

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#251212 - 09/26/08 10:28 AM Re: What's missing? [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
Sans Logos Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/31/03
Posts: 5791
Loc: in my own world in pittsburgh,...
ken, thanks for the preview and for seeking clarifying input.

i can only relay my experience with this. i don't know it this will be helpful or not, but you can decide.

......it's odd as i sit here trying to think of how to begin my response, i am flooded with a wave sorrow. i guess this topic is inviting me to see things in a way i had not prior to today. obviously, at this point, with my current inner eye, i had not given this much reflective thought.

so much has transpired since the first day of disclosure so many years ago. it was shortly after my brother/perp died from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 23 that i outed him. it was all wrong. up to that point none of the brothers and sister who had been his victims discussed what was happening, even though we were all aware that he was serially abusing several of us. my parents were blind to it. he was the hero of the family, and when i brought out the truth, my family turned against me.

that was traumatic in itself, and i truthfully do not recall any of the words that were used in discussions about the abuse. i mainly remember the pandora's box of stress and anxiety, the anger that was released as a result of the abuse.

for decades my people disassociated from me, each other, and the subject of his predatory behavior. at family gatherings and get togethers for baptisms communions graduation and such, the pall of my disclosure was always apparent. even though it would be revealed eventually that his abuse extended to no less than at least 4 members of the 8 siblings, ranging in ages from my 13-14 to my youngest sister's age 3-4. [wow, i have just realized for the first time my age at the time of the first occasion of abuse; my youngest sister is 11 years younger than me].

after he died, my mother died too, emotionally. and my father never said a word about anything.

as i went on to begin recovery from alcohol and substance abuse, many of my other family members followed suit, and relations seemed less strained. but that dark cloud was always there, hanging like the sword of damacles, just waiting to fall without a moment's warning.

as the years progressed and we started producing grandchildren, that took the focus off of the original family unit, and everyone started to focus on the newer members. the memory of the abuse seemed to go underground.

but not for me; i just went off on my own and began to create a life separate from the dysfuntion and denial of my family.

when i moved to minneapolis, i was able to find a great deal of support and healing. while there, i found male survivor, and through the organization, found the courage to formally state my feelings about about what happened .

my father and i never discussed either the abuse by my older brother, nor the incidences of rape that occurred during my 2 years in the navy. i think we only exchanged about 200 words with each other over my lifetime. he died in 2005; and that's why talking about this today feels so different. i had not done the 'emotional review' since then. this is bringing up a lot of stuff.

sorry for the length of this reply. it has caused me to feel some things i needed to remember feel, and i think, primarily, that is why i am here.

since i am stuck in the barrage of feelings memories, i have lost my focus, so i'll stop now.

your brother in recovery,

ron

_________________________
  1. the past
  2. ReClaiming Now
  3. advocacy


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#251223 - 09/26/08 11:26 AM Re: What's missing? [Re: Morning Star]
Trucker51 Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/20/08
Posts: 2826
Loc: Denver, CO
You could include a bit of my struggle with disclosure as an extreme example of what could go wrong. I wasn't believed at the age of 15 when I first tried to disclose to my mother, who physically assualted me for implicating her church friends. What followed was an immediate descent into personal loathing and self-destructive coping methods. You can see the difference in my photos in the "Found Another Photo-Part Two" topic. I already had problems at 13 & 1/2 but by May of 1972, when we were getting ready to put the boat in the lake, my descent was quite advanced. What followed was 14 years in a personal wasteland.

At about age 30, when I was in my first stint in therapy, my little sister disclosed her abuse. She would have been about age 24. My mother believed her, which made me feel even lower, as I still wasn't believed. The first result of my little sister's disclosure was my mother "spilling the beans" to my first wife during a heated argument, with the eventual result that my first marriage ended. There was a period of needing to know the details and who I was accusing, followed by a period where I withdrew deeply into drug addiction.

Over the next few years my parent's 40-year marriage collapsed over since-recanted recovered-memories about abuse suffered by my little sister. My mother finished her Master's degree at Boston University, and published her thesis as a book in late 1996. As she was working towards her Master's, she went way out of her way to let all of our extended family and long-time friends know what had happened to us kids. And, like my own experience with disclosing to friends in my 20s, many of those people we haven't seen since. The collapse of my parent's marriage led six years later to my dad's premature death at the age of 69.

In late 1996, after my first trip to Hazelden and after working on my CSA issues with Jeff Casebolt in Lakewood, CO, my mother's book was first released. (Healing, Wilt Thou Be Made Whole, a Spiritual Answer, Panthaleon Press) In the preface, on pages xvii-xviii, comes this sentence:

"From a family of origin that was "dysfuntional" in terms of physical and emotional abuse, to a situation where my own children, without my knowledge, suffered periodic abuse within the home at the hands of older children of trusted family friends and neighbors employed as babysitters, I have travelled the same road or made the same journey that others must also make".

I was never consulted or gave any approval and my immediate reaction was great fear and an extended period of relapse. I was getting walked-on all over again. Shortly thereafter though, the perp who had abused me just before my attempted disclosure at age 15, came out of the woodwork 25 years later to vociferously deny the allegation and threaten legal action, even though he wasn't specifically named, before he withdrew his complaint and went silent. The result of his incriminating himself divided his family though, with three of his four siblings allied against him. His self-incrimination and my mother's now-educated increasing awareness were also a couple of the many keys to my eventual recovery, along with her 2nd marriage. My stepdad was very supportive of my recovery too, and it was through him that I was introduced to a guy who was 7 years ahead of me in recovery who mentored me in the late 1990s and into the earlier part of this decade.

Figure-out how to condense that, and I'll give you a medal. I just thought that some worst-case scenario about disclosure and eventual recovery could be included in your message. As an added bonus, I recently found three cassettes that one of my therapists, Roland Moore, did back in the late 1980s in Cleveland, OH, which I would be willing to part with. Maybe you would find them helpful.

Keep up the good work,

Mark

_________________________
"We stay here, we die here. We've got to keep moving". Trucker Mark



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#251231 - 09/26/08 12:13 PM Re: What's missing? [Re: Trucker51]
Logan Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 04/05/03
Posts: 1205
Loc: NY
Man I can't wait to Show this my Mom. This is EXACTLY what I have been dealing with as of late, in fact last night!!!

-Logan

Thanx Ken



Edited by Logan (09/26/08 12:17 PM)
_________________________
"Terrible thing to live in Fear"-Shawshank Redemption
WOR Alumnus Hope Springs 2009
"Quite a thing to live in fear, this is what is means to be a slave"
-Blade Runner

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#251233 - 09/26/08 12:21 PM Re: What's missing? [Re: Logan]
Logan Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 04/05/03
Posts: 1205
Loc: NY
oh I wanted to add, like Mark said, maybe you could include what a Parent should NOT do and what would NOT be a Helpful response. I think I have recieved a ton of them from her.

Logan

_________________________
"Terrible thing to live in Fear"-Shawshank Redemption
WOR Alumnus Hope Springs 2009
"Quite a thing to live in fear, this is what is means to be a slave"
-Blade Runner

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#251254 - 09/26/08 03:33 PM Re: What's missing? [Re: Logan]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
I'd be interested in the "what not to say" input as well, so please let me know.
Thanks,
Ken


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#251256 - 09/26/08 03:38 PM Re: What's missing? [Re: Logan]
Barkabus Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/09/08
Posts: 809
My mom manipulated me into disclosing to her before I was prepared to and I have been paying for it ever since. The latest development to this is that she is now telling other people of my CSA! Out of her own hurt and shame, my mom seems to be trying to hurt me back. This week I had a meeting with one lady she told. I couldn't look her in the eye. GRRRR

Mike

_________________________
My Story

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