“Dear Ignacio, I am a new mom with a 2 months old son. During the last few months of my pregnancy, I found out that my brother was sexually abused by a family friend when he was a little kid. The event shook me (and our family) and we’ve all been struggling with it. Since the birth of our son, I have been super paranoid. I feel that I can’t and shouldn’t leave him with anyone, and sometimes even worry about my partner. My partner is sympathetic to my anxieties, but I am worried that it is only getting worse. Is there anything I can do?”
Congratulations on becoming a mom, and happy belated mothers day to you. Finding out about news like this is always challenging, especially when going through experiences like pregnancy and birth. It seems that the discovery of your brother’s sexual abuse sparked an awareness in you. You are struggling with projected fear onto your child. It makes sense that paranoia is coming up.
I want to take a moment and acknowledge what happened to your brother. Sometimes when childhood sexual abuse (CSA) is disclosed, survivors become invisible as those around them have their own reaction. If you haven’t spoken with your brother yet, I highly encourage you to reach out and open up the conversation. Healing from CSA is a community effort and the support of you and your family are integral in the healing process.
The fear and paranoia you are experiencing may also be alleviated as you keep the lines of communication open with your brother, your partner, and your family. Fear comes from the stories we tell ourselves about what we don’t fully understand. Perhaps if you have a better understanding of what happened from your brother’s perspective, you could feel empowered to face your paranoia. A trusted family friend broke his trust as a young child. There are significant lessons to be learned here about how CSA takes place.
While there is no magic pill to make the world a safer place, there is a lot you can do to prevent CSA. You can learn from your brother’s struggle and journey for healing to help inform you as you raise your son. This is the intergenerational and community work that breaks the cycle of sexual violence.
For more information about setting up a protection plan for your child, I recommend watching Pure Love Episode S02 E04 called “Protection Plan,” where my daughter and I discuss ways in which we set boundaries and think through harm-reduction strategies for my newborn grandson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDs2vdR1Wxs&list=PLs9PQsqE6mGb-xCWcyuvmM0minOlHfBft&index=19
Remember that as a male survivor of CSA, your brother may be struggling with extra hurdles to open up or seek healing. I hope this does not discourage you to continue being an active supporter for him, yourself, and your son.