Potential past trauma revealed - what do I do?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by WNC Gal, Jun 16, 2007.

  1. WNC Gal

    WNC Gal New Member

    I just found out yesterday that my 14 year old daughter revealed to her treatment team (at her former hospital) that she had been raped while out of country and traveling with relatives (not us). She has a very acute and alarming history of self-injury, suicidal impulses and mood swings for just the past 10 months (and starting within a few weeks of returning from that trip). Prior to that she was fine.

    During these 10 months, she has been attributing her depression to the death of two close friends (which we have no knowledge of nor can we substantiate). So with a "history" of fabricating trauma, how does one approach this very serious and delicate manner?

    Her current psychiatrist (at a residential treatment center) feels that she shows symptoms of PTSD more than bipolar or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). So he will begin treating her for that even if we cannot be sure.

    As a mom, I am just heartbroken to think that she could have suffered this trauma while thousands of miles away from home and that she may have kept it to herself for so long. But, with her history of "making up" trauma (friends who died), we are absolutely perplexed about what to do....

    If that event really did happen, it may explain the past 10 months of acute psychiatric issues - and targeted therapy may help her recover from this seemingly unending spiral of psychiatric instability. But if the event really did not happen, I fear that we are perpetuating the "victim" mindset in a child who had been VERY happy, well-adjusted and emotionally stable, but has spent the past 10 months almost continuously in a suicidal state and inpatient at hospitals.

    Does anyone have any experience with this?

  2. kris

    kris New Member

    <span style='font-size: 11pt'> <span style='font-family: Georgia'> <span style="color: #6600CC"> since her onset of symptoms seem to coincide so closely to the reported rape i think i'd be inclined to believe her.

    is she currently in an Residential Treatment Center (RTC)...or is she in an acute setting? either way i think i'd be pushing for her to get hooked up with-rape specific counselling as well as a rape support group.

    kris </span> </span> </span>
  3. rejectedmom

    rejectedmom New Member

    I had a couple of foster children who came to me after being sexually abused but they were much younger than your daughter. The eleven year old would not even admit that the abuse had happened and he was so difficult to deal with. His symptoms appeared like chldhood BiPolar (BP) and he was very self sabatoging.

    I would say if ALL your daughter's symptoms only began after the trip and the alleged rape, it is extremely possible that it did indeed happen. Victims, especially rape victims often try to hide the assault from others. They may feel shame, guilt, and are afraid of being percieved as different or weak should their secret be made public. It is also possible that the rapist made threats to her to do additional harm to either her or people she cares about. That could have made her even more reluctant to speak up. In addition if she was doing something that was not allowed at the time which put her at risk for this attack she may feel like she "did it to herself". I would stop guessing and just go with the treatment plan. If it helps great if not revisit the possibility of it being made up for attention with her therapists. -RM
  4. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I am confused. Does she have a history of tall tales (2 friends that died) from before that trip? or only after it?
  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I know a situation where a girl was sexually assaulted at age eight and didn't tell her parents until she was fourteen. She said she felt ashamed, like it was her fault. Her parents were shocked that she had kept it in all those years and we lost touch, so I don't know what happened after that...I'd give your daughter the benefit of the doubt until proven wrong because rape victims tend to feel as if they caused it...it's really sad. Another thing I'd look at, with the new behavior, is drug use. Maybe she started using drugs on her trip. Her suddenly behavioral changes remind me somewhat of how my daughter drastically changed when she was using drugs (although we didn't know about it at the time). It's also possible that she was assaulted and also started using drugs to blunt the memory...hugs.
  6. Sheila

    Sheila Moderator

    I'd also work on the premise that the incident is true.

    It must be so upsetting..... Hugs
  7. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Clearly, something happened on the trip, since her behavior changed so dramatically and severely after that point. Exactly what happened, you may never know. So go with-the recommended treatment plan for PTSD. So sorry!
  8. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    I am inclined to believe her as well....rape and sexual abuse can create some of the most profound feelings of self hatred possible. Her self mutilation and suicidal ideation could be her way of coping with something as horrendous as rape. I would also wonder about whether her "2 friends that died", are actually parts of herself that died when she was raped. Maybe it is not that she is fabricating stories, but rather that she does not know how to process this event without doing it in a disassociative way.

    Food for thought......but as always....you have to go with your Mommy gut. You know, deep inside, what the truth is........just trust yourself.
  9. WNC Gal

    WNC Gal New Member

    The stories about friends who died came up only AFTER the trip last summer. One of the friends allegedly died on Halloween 2005 - but we were with her that entire evening and heard nothing about it then!

    I spoke to her by phone last night and just tried to get a gentle message through that she needs to be completely honest with her treatment team to get the very best care - I likened it to a patient with a disease who goes to his doctor and does not disclose some symptoms which might be embarassing while "playing up" other symptoms so that the doctor will take him seriously. I said, "You can imagine how much more difficult it would be for the doctor to diagnose that patient". She was a bit mad about that and said that she is trying.

    Her doctor and I discussed ways to gently confront her about the "made up" issues such as suggesting that she write a letter to the family of the "deceased" friend letting them know how much they meant to her. Or planning a memorial with other friends of that person. (there wouldn't be any...)

    The other very coincidental thing about these "friends" is that they parallel the circumstances of friends of MINE who have died (I had a friend hit by a car in high school - I gave my daughter her name for a middle name; and I had a close friend die of cancer a few years ago).

    My gut feeling IS that something happened on that trip! Her accompanying relatives told us that she didn't speak to them for over two weeks during the four week trip. I think she was very traumatized and couldn't share it with anyone. They just thought she was being a stubborn teen.

    What is the most effective therapy for PTSD? Are there any screenings/tests to try to gauge what has happened in a subtle way? Has anyone had experience with the recovery process?

  10. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    If she did get assaulted - I would be willing to bet that "these friends" are the parts of her soul that died when she got raped. It can be such a traumatic event, that you do literally feel as if a part of your soul died - just as if a friend died. You miss the innocence you once had, the joy, the pure love - that feels as if it has all been stolen by the abuser. You feel as if you will never be whole again - and because rape is such a personal abuse - you often blame yourself that somehow you did something to cause the incident. In order to somehow take back control of the situation, you may begin to abuse yourself for somehow allowing the rapist to attack. It is all about blame, shame, and losing a part of yourself......

    As far PTSD testing - I do not believe there are any screening tests, but there are many telltale, hallmark signs of PTSD that you would have noticed in your daughter.

    Usually cognitive therapy does the best with someone experiencing PTSD......although each person is different. If you determine this event has actually happened, I would also suggest getting her some books about others who have been raped, and how they overcome the pain. There are some great ones out there, as well as wonderful support groups.

    Good luck - I will be keeping her in my thoughts........
  11. WNC Gal

    WNC Gal New Member

    I just received a book in the mail entitled, "The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms" by Mary Beth Williams. I will be sending it to my daughter in the hopes that she and her therapist can work through it together. It looks very good.

    Hopefully she will give it a try - she tells everyone that DBT won't work for her - yikes! It is the one skill that she needs the most!