Sun | Oct 21, 2018

I was abused by my step-father

Published:Tuesday | December 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Q: A COUPLE years ago, I was sexually abused as a teenager by my step-father. My mother did not believe me and accused me of lying. Eventually, she believed me because my school work dropped significantly and I did not do well in fifth form. He is now doing his time for his crime, but I still cannot forget the awful and painful incident. I repeated fifth form and got some subjects. My mother was not married to him. He was earning good money and gave her many physical comforts. I now resent that she visits him in prison and takes food for him. I know the money is from a joint account that they have. However, I wish she would not visit him and I have no intention of visiting him. He is a cruel and wicked man.

A: You have endured an awful ordeal. It is especially painful when the one who should protect you raped you. It is doubly hurtful when your own mother did not believe you. She who should have provided support and counsel was not on your side. It is always better to give the benefit of the doubt to a child victim than to a partner. You are growing in strength in that you have successfully completed your fifth-form exams in spite of the sexual assault. You are on the road to recovery in spite of having issues of forgiving and forgetting.

It should be acknowledged that you will never forget such an abuse. It is an unfortunate part of your personal story. You might even suffer flashbacks. What you can do, however, is learn to forgive even out of enlightened self-interest. Forgiveness is not having personal bitterness towards the rapist. It means that while what he did was despicable, you will not wish that fellow inmates rape or kill him while in prison. It also means that you are not to fear him. Forgiveness is an attempt also not to be held captive by awful experiences of the past, but to reach a stage when those awful experiences do not define you and what you can achieve.

It could be that your mother has forgiven him and, therefore can take food to him when she visits. However, that should be the extent of her human compassion. She should not take him back as a partner, especially if you are still living in the house. Upon his release, she should end the joint-account arrangement. You need to ask your mother why she visits him in prison and then tell her why you do not like the idea. You must not jump to the conclusion that she loves you less or is on the side of her partner.

No one should expect you to visit your stepfather while he is in prison. You have gone through a lot. Since you are struggling with forgiveness, you need to visit a counsellor to help you overcome this hurdle.

All the best.

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