Learning that the daughter you love has been a victim of sexual trauma can be devastating. How will you help her heal? Will your family ever be the same again?
Although your grief and pain might be all-consuming, it’s very important to help your teen through this trauma. Professional therapy is vital. Here are other insights:
Helping a Victim of Sexual Trauma
- For immediate help, there are rape crisis centers in almost every city. The counselors there can offer information on sexual trauma. Trained advocates can help answer any questions she might have or simply listen to what she has to say.
- Encourage her to express herself. There might be bouts of rage and periods of depression, but she should be able to express herself through all of it without negativity from others.
- Tell her how worthy she is. Your daughter may be feeling as if she did something to deserve this. Healing comes, not by avoiding the pain of looking at the situation, but by facing it together.
- Honor the boundaries she sets. She needs to feel like her body is her own. Many troubled teens who have experienced sexual trauma say that a single touch in the wrong place, even from those they love, can bring about thoughts of the trauma and make their skin crawl. Ask before you hug, tough, kiss her, even if it’s done innocently.
- Find a counselor that specializes in sexual trauma in teens. Even if your daughter doesn’t want to discuss what happened with you at first, she may want to discuss it with someone else. A counselor or therapist can help her work through the feelings she’s having and teach her some coping mechanisms that might help.
- Get help for yourself. There may be a storm raging inside you against the perpetrator, but your healing will help your daughter heal. She needs you to help her through the panic attacks, nightmares, flashbacks and intense rage she may be going through. If you need to, consult a therapist for yourself so you can learn how to cope with the situation and help your daughter. It really will take the entire family to heal together.
- Let her know she’s not to blame It doesn’t matter what she was wearing, where she was, if she was drinking or even doing drugs- the abuse isn’t her fault. She didn’t ask for it. Reassure her that she’s not to blame.
She Can Survive Sexual Trauma
Learning how to live life again after a sexual trauma may be hard for a teenage girl, but it’s not impossible. She needs you to believe in her and stand by her through the recovery process, knowing that some effects may last for years after the initial trauma has occurred.
At Greenbrier Academy, we offer help for troubled teens who have been through sexual trauma. We use our concept of relationality, traditional therapy, group therapy and even equine therapy to help girls who have been through traumatic events recover. Our trained therapists work hand in hand with these girls as well as their family members to provide the support they need.
Find out more about our program and how we can help your daughter live the life she deserves.