The counselor said WHAT????

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by TeDo, Nov 18, 2010.

  1. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    Bear with me while I explain some things before I vent. My boys were 3 1/2 years old when I found out my teenage babysitter, whom I've known since she was born, was sexually abusing them. easy child seemed to be okay but difficult child had all the classic signs, bedwetting, night terrors, not wanting to be touched, etc. I found a wonderful therapist that worked wonders with the boys. After a few months, difficult child's symptoms went away except the touching. He still has trouble with touch from anyone except me. His trust in people was destroyed and this is still an issue today. I am the only one he thoroughly trusts. The whole situation was never talked about in front of them because I was hoping and praying that they would forget all about it. They have. They have never said a word about it and I prefer to keep it that way.

    Here's the rest. difficult child's new IEP now includes resource room time every day as well as therapy with the school-based mental health professional. I was all for this because it is the therapist he saw for the abuse and so she knew some of his history. I have learned today that apparently I made a HUGE mistake. He met with her for the first time during the last 30 min of the school day. He came out to the van after school and the first words out of his mouth were "What did the babysitter do to me when I was little?" I was floored so I asked, "What do you mean?" He told me that the therapist asked him if he remembered anything about what a babysitter did to him. Of course, he has no clue what she was talking about. I refuse to tell him because I don't want to go back through the **** we went through then. He is not mature enough or in a good enough place to be able to handle this right now.

    This evening has been a nightmare for me. He has been yelling at me about everything from homework to supper and everything in between. He is obviously very angry because I'm sure he knows there is something I'm keeping from him and I can just feel the trust he had in me melting away. I am really afraid of what is going to happen with him now. Things were actually getting better at home and now this. I sent her an email letting her know how angry I am, how angry difficult child is, and why. It is up to me what difficult child knows and what he doesn't as far as this stuff goes. He still has no clue because I don't know what to say to him but knows there is something so he is angry. The only person he has ever trusted just betrayed him. I just want to cry for him and for me. There is no way he can handle the truth but I don't know what to tell him. I know he will keep asking. I don't want to lie to him. I don't want him to know the truth right now.

    I just don't know what to do.:crying::not_fair::grrr:
  2. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I'm a sexual abuse survivor.

    My easy child was sexually abused by my nephew while staying with my Mom when she was 3yrs. We went through pure hades and back. easy child did well and didn't need therapy.......I'm guessing all the talking about it during the investigation.....and she had some awfully great people who did it who kept reassuring her it wasn't her fault and she would be safe.....did the trick. Like your boys she had no memory of it.

    Something happened when she was older......about 14 or so I think maybe younger than that where I was stuck on the spot. I either told her........or I lost her trust.

    I told her. And while it was not pleasant for her to hear.........she did fine with the information. It didn't trigger memories, it didn't trigger behavior. But it did show her that I could be honest with her, and I didn't view her any differently due to what had happened.

    As a victim..........I'm guessing your son is angry because this was told to him by a stranger. (I know she's not really but he doesn't remember her so she is) Not by his mother. It doesn't mean he remembers any of it. But this is a huge thing to be told by someone you don't know and very personal.

    I can't tell you what to do. But what I would do is sit down and tell him and explain it. I understand you don't want to go through what you did before.......but the therapist let the cat out of the bag and your simply can't put it back. If you don't talk with him, he's going to assume all sorts of things.......and most likely none of them are going to be good. And it's going to go downhill from there.

    I would not only chew out that therapist in a huge way..........I'd go after her boss while I was at it. TOTALLY unprofessional behavior!!!

    I am so very sorry she's done this. Odds are if he moved past it and didn't remember it then once you've explained.......and explained why it just wasn't something that got talked about.......he'll be fine and understand.

  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You don't need to go into details but I do think you need to tell him.

    We went through this with easy child. Only we never found out exactly what the abuse was, because when she finally told us something had happened, she would give no details, not even to a counsellor. Or if she did tell the counsellor, the counsellor refused to tell me, because easy child (at 7 years old!) insisted on confidentiality. I was never present during counselling, and not permitted to know any details. I was not happy with this but had no frame of reference to know what was appropriate or not.

    easy child has since forgotten the details of the abuse. So now it is lost, we have no what of knowing. And I don't think the counselling she had was good enough, she has other problems which I can see are probably due to her history of having been abused. Her weight, for starters. Not tat it is always abuse-related, but i think it is in her case. She also has anxiety issues in some situations.

    easy child has, however, grown up knowing that she was abused as a child and that we dealt with it as soon as we could, although we did not go after the perpetrator legally (she had asked me not to; the perp was long gone and we had no way of tracing him; he also was only 7 years old at the time of the abuse, and she was 5).

    Bad things sometimes happen. I know easy child wishes she COULD remember, so she could deal with it. But she also feels that perhaps having forgotten also means she has moved on. I'm less inclined to believe this...

    But we have never hidden the fact that there is a history.

    I would tell difficult child this - "When you were little, we found out that a babysitter you had was doing bad things to you. We stopped it and immediately got help for you. If you have since forgotten about it, that is a good thing. X was your therapist back then and really cares about you; he didn't know you had forgotten and just wanted to know if you were OK with things now. I'm sorry you were upset; I hate seeing you upset and that is why I didn't want to talk about it because I didn't want to see you upset like you were when you were little. But I realise now you are older, you are a capable strong kid and you have a right to know. You also have a right to know how to stay safe, and perhaps knowing how to stay safe means you need to know this history too."

    You don't need to go into details unless he asks. If he asks, I think you have to tell him. The unknown is always more fearful than the known.

  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Marg and Lisa are right. He now knows something happened. You cannot go back and take this knowledge away from him. Sit him down, tell him you are very sorry you did not tell him right away but you were shocked and startled. You didn't think it was the right place to tell him. Explain it briefly and simply, the way Marg said. Otherwise he will always know you are hiding something from him. Tell him the therapist was very wrong to bring it up but was worried about him and if he needed any more help. Then go after the therapist and chew him a new one, and go to his boss and have him censured or replaced. This was TOTALLY WRONG.

    I am so sorry this has come up. Right now you need to earn back his trust. It will be slow but it will happen IF you are honest with him about this.
  5. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    While I do agree it was the wrong thing for the therapist to do, I do think it was a well-meaning mistake. He had previously spent some time working with difficult child to work through tis stuff, and with the passage of time he didn't realise that he couldn't just pick up where he left off. Sometimes as adults, we forget that time passes differently for us, faster for us, than it does for children. Kids can do a lot of growing, both physically and emotionally, in what seems to us to be only a very short time indeed.

    I would say, "Next time, please check with me first so you can get a more accurate update on difficult child's progress." But I think you've made sure he already has got this message.

    I would't be wanting him replaced, not if he did a good job previously and has the potential to do so again. This was a gaffe, big-time. But mistakes happen and it was not meant in malice. he's got the message. Or if he hasn't and does something like this again, THEN he's gone.

    Better the devil you know...

  6. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member


    I am sorry this happened. I know how pumped you were about his new IEP. I would have grabbed my cellphone and gone outside as soon as I got home and called this therapist! An email would not have been enough for me! You have sent an email, I would follow with a phone call today!

    Here's the thing. The toothpaste is out of the tube, so to speak - it can't be put back in. So now you have to find something to do with what's out.

    While you believe difficult child was ok and had no memory, imbedded within him is the knowledge. I believe it was absolutely wrong for the therapist to bring this up, especially at the first meeting in what, like three years? You would believe a good therapist would take the time over several appointments to get to know him again, find out what has been going on with him lately, make him feel comfortable talking, etc., before bringing this up. Not to mention, a good therapist would know if this is an issue.

    I believe you have to sit him down and be truthful in as simplest terms as possible. At 7, he is still a little boy. Your ignoring his request or saying "nothing" is likely going to cause more issues. I know this threw you for a loop, to say the least, and you didn't know what to do last night. But today is a new day and your chance to address both the therapist and difficult child. Let the therapist have it and speak to difficult child after school today.

    Lots of hugs to you as you revisit this difficult subject with difficult child - keep it as short and simple and age appropriate as possible..

  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    On some level, he probably does remember. And if you don't deal with it now, it WILL come back to him as an adult and could seriously ruin his life. My friend was sexually abused, but she forgot it then it came back when she was in her 20's and almost destroyed her. She had flashbacks and didn't know what was real and what wasn't real and I went through the whole thing with her. She was better after she knew.

    We adopted a boy who sexually abused my two younger kids (he is long gone now). On the advice of our therapist I am dealing with it as memories pop up, but have no intention of never telling them. That's not only dishonest, but it's something they need to know to move on. It could be why he is still having problems. easy child could have issues one day too. It is rare to never remember. Usually when sex becomes an issue, there are memories. Better early than late. The therapist however in my opinion should not have said anything without telling you first.

    I've been there and will be there again. This isn't over, but I wanted to offer my empathy in a very hard situation.
  8. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Whether or not your difficult child has conscious memories of the abuse today, eventually it does out. The therapist should not have told your difficult child unless you were in the room (protocol with a child). His memories may come or they may not.

    My children were both horribly abused; one has some memories, the other has a memory or a flashback of some sort & will dissociate.

    What you do now is find an established child trauma specialist (therapist) who can handle this in the most delicate manner possible. What you tell your child is that you did your best to protect him & the minute you found out about the incident(s) you removed the person who hurt him. He is safe.

    Over the years I've learned that you cannot "force" memories ~ they will come out when a child is better equipped emotionally to handle those memories. In the meantime, you work on skills to cope with anxieties, fears; you teach self calming & how to tell someone if he is being hurt again.

    Over the past years the biggest lesson we've been teaching kt & wm is to not become a victim again. To recognize & report. It's taken years of age appropriate therapy.

  9. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Personally, I think it can effect a child whether or not they remember it. Getting it out in the open (not public, but just letting the child and all tdocs/psychiatrists involved know about it) helps understand the child and what treatments might help the most. Also, what would happen if the child was never told, grew up, and ran into this woman again? He should be aware that this is not a wonderful person and to stay away from her and never let her babysit his kids. I completely understand you wanting to protect him from bad memories but it's my opinion that you can't really. I agree that it should come out for discussion careefully and when the time is right and in an age-appropriate way and that this therapist had NO business handling it that way- especially at school. But I don't think keeping it a "faamily secret" is healthy in the long run. I would be jumping all over the therapist for not discussing this plan with me first, too. If a therapist is going to open up a can of worms like that with a child, the parent needs to know ahead of time so they will know what is going on when/if the child suddenly starts having nightmares or whatever.
  10. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I always knew I would end up having to tell both of them. However, not at this age if there were no signs of remembering. The therapist called me and apologized BUT reminded me that even if he doesn't remember what happened, the body remembers. I reminded her that I am very aware of that, being a survivor myself. I just told her that with all the other emotional stuff going on with him right now, that this isn't the time. She asked what I thought was causing the behavior at school and I told her that even easy child is having a hard time with the increase volume and intensity of homework this year. easy child loved school and used to hate vacations/days off but this year, even he looks forward to the next break because he finally won't have homework to do. The amount and difficulty of the work this year is a HUGE increase over even last year. I told her that his anxiety kicks into high gear when they give difficult child long worksheets (which means all of them) and his response is to become angry and beligerant. She was happy to hear that difficult child's assignments are being modified/shortened and she said she will help him work on his anger/anxiety and give him a place to vent. We agreed to keep in frequent contact.

    difficult child has been much better the last couple days. His anger has disappeared but I do still need to tell him something. For now, I simply plan to tell him that the babysitter wasn't nice to him at all and that is why I never let her babysit for him again. I am hoping to keep the gruesome details from him just until I think he is mature enough and emotionally ready to handle it. I know I can't keep it from him forever, but I don't want it to make bad matters worse. He doesn't deserve that and I will tell him everything when he is ready.
  11. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    How old is he now? Sorry- I just got back into town and will read your latest response more carefully this evening after unpacking and eating.
  12. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I'm thinking I'd start with something along the lines of "your babysitter didn't treat you as well as she should have when you were a baby- when I found out, I got you away from her. We'll talk about the details when you are closer to a parenting age." Then talk to therapist about keeping it at that stage for a while until he's ready for more and can handle more.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    K, I think that's a good way. If he asks for more detail, though, it can't be kept hidden. And yes, the therapist was right - the body remembers. So does the mind at some level and it can really cause problems at surprising levels and in unexpected ways.

    We never hid it form easy child, but she did forget. However, she always knew something had happened; we never let her forget that because I would mention it to her doctor when appropriate. But where we saw problems for easy child (even though we thought it was fine, dealt with, past news) was when she hit puberty. Different for a girl who was molested in a "you are too weak to fight me off" controlling kind of way. As she approached puberty she began to sabotage her body. All signs of impending physical maturity were met with denial, refusal and fear. Not interested in boys. Never will be, because sex hurts (as her abuser told her before he did whatever-he-did). Then at 14, she got a boyfriend. The only way she could cope with the relationship was long-distance. This was good; he lived hours away in the country, she had met him at camp. So they wrote to one another, telephoned one another. For years. Meanwhile, she had a boyfriend so other boys stayed friends only. This helped her feel safe. Again, we didn't realise this at the time. But whenever boyfriend was visiting Sydney and easy child was going to meet him, her anxiety would kick in full bore and she would be vomiting. Often we would have to drive her into the city because she was too ill to take the train by herself. One vivid memory is of easy child at Central Station Country Terminal, bending over the train tracks vomiting while boyfriend stood there shaking his head and saying, "Why do I always have this effect on her?"
    We had told him of the abuse history, because this is when we were beginning to think it was a factor, even though she insisted she could not remember the incident any more. She wished she could, so she could deal with it and was angry at herself for shutting us out when she was younger.

    She and that boyfriend are now married; he is now SIL1. But sexually, she has been afraid and conservative. Doesn't like talking about it at all. Getting married has, however, allied her current sexual experience with security and love, which has to be healing. She does seem to be relaxing a lot more in a lot of areas of her life.

    We had no details to go into, and the details we did have, we generally did not mention. All we said was, "easy child was molested in the school playground when she was 5. The boy terrorised her, threatened her and was really mean. She was so afraid she did not tell us for two years. The boy was probably himself an abuse victim; he had known easy child since infancy. He is long gone and has no way to find us, nor we him. We are stronger than this but it shows how you need to be vigilant and to teach our children that this is wrong." We also had to emphasise, since kids internalise things, that easy child did nothing to deserve this. She was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    We have no need to go into details. It's even possible to say that the abuse was of a very personal nature, or intimate nature. Or merely use the word "inappropriate". But it's also important to put it into perspective, because this in itself can be healing; a child who keeps focussing on "I am different, I feel different, AHA! This is why!" is not moving on, but finding excuses. At times in our childhood/adolescence we ALL feel different, and this is normal. There are a lot of things we could 'blame' and this is wrong, too. We need to find our own sense of personal responsibility, and while ever we find people or events to blame, we are not learning how to learn, how to improve ourselves and how to move on to new and better experiences.

    A woman I know, my age, is physically handicapped. Born that way. In those days she was believed to be equally mentally handicapped and was treated accordingly. WHen she was about 10 years old she used to go to the local swimming pool every weekend, because swimming was good therapy for her; it strengthened her muscles. But there were boys there waiting for her. They would sexually molest her every week. She went to the pool every week because she knew she needed to do her therapy. But she also knew what to expect. She described this in her book, that she endured the abuse, waited until they were done, then got on with her swimming exercises. To her those boys were nothing. I don't know how she coped emotionally with the repeated abuse, without it affecting her; except that she took it in her stride and endured it as something she just had to endure if she was to get what she needed. She is a pragmatic person. Since then, in her later adulthood, she has found herself in a position where she was being regularly molested by a person working with disabled people who should have been caring for them and not molesting them. This man would take advantage of her need to be taken to the toilet (she has deteriorated physically over the years) and she is physically helpless to prevent this kind of attack. For time she was very upset, then she took control again, reported the creep and also removed herself form that particular group until the problem was resolved.

    A big part of coping and healing, comes with control. I'm wondering as I type this, if your son's bad behaviour is connected with his need (insistence) to control what happens in his life. Teachers and parents often try to discipline by using control. "Because I said so, that's why!" is a classic example of what NOT to say to a child who feels a loss of control. It has become a survival mechanism, to take back the control than an abuser stole.

    Anyway, I was just tossing in some thoughts and experiences. Take what fits and leave the rest.

  15. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    I think the counselor was way out of line doing this without speaking to you about it in advance. A knowledgable professional would have a clue what kind of impact this might have on a child and wouldn't set the family up for a crisis without a safety net in place.

    Waaaay out of line, in my opinion. I'd be forwarding your emails to her supervisor and to your building principal explaining your concern about that conversation 1) being initiated without your knowledge or approval and 2) setting the family up for a crisis without a safety net in place.