“Dear Ignacio, I am a survivor of CSA and incest by my father. When I first came to terms with it in college, I tried confronting my father but he acted like I was crazy. We never spoke of it again. My father is a powerful man with much wealth. Over the years, he has been financially supporting me, especially as I have suffered from mental health challenges and #addiction. Part of me feels like he feels guilty and is trying to make up for what he did. I have spent years in #therapy and tried all kinds of things. I am tired of feeling like nothing is working for me. I hate having to depend on my father. I hate thinking about him or saying his name. But I need him for my survival. I am in my mid-30s and wonder if I’ll ever feel whole. Is there any hope for people like me?”
I am sorry that your courage to speak up was met with denial and dismissiveness. Unfortunately, your situation is far too common. Child sexual abuse is often a domestic violence case where power plays a pivotal role.
Your father abused his power within the adult-child dynamic and continues to cause harm. The fact that you are being supported by your father, which in turn complicates your #healing, is a situation that is toxic yet understandable.
Grappling with the complexities of CSA, especially when one is still connected to the harm-doer as a family member, is difficult. I encourage you to #advocate for yourself one moment at a time and accept that the approach will be dynamic and shifting over time.
Have you ever shared your story with anyone? A friend, other family members, or mental health professionals? This is very important. In order to distance yourself from your father - physically, emotionally, and eventually financially - having others who understand and support you will be vital. You can free yourself from the #validation that your father will never give you, and instead seek it from those who are committed to your well-being.
Although your father is a powerful and wealthy man, you are not without power. You are no longer a child, you have a voice. I am also a survivor of #incest and something that I try to remind myself when dealing with my familial harm-doer is that she does not have the same power over me. I am not little. I am big. Sounds silly, but we often revert to those horrible feelings of powerlessness and shame, even as adults.
Here are some suggestions for you to consider depending on where you are in your process:
1. Ask your therapist or addiction counselor, or do your own online search for support groups for survivors of CSA and incest. Finding a community of people who are struggling with similar issues and sharing stories can reinstate hope and strength.
2. Work with your advocate/therapist/support group to help you cut your financial ties with your father. This may take a while, but you can slowly work towards an eventual goal of becoming #independent.
3. When you think it is safe, you may want to consider confronting your father and setting new #boundaries with him. With the help of your support network, figure out what actually works for you in terms of a connection with your father. Perhaps, you could get him to agree to financially support you without any contact. Or, you could ask him to minimize/stop contact with you for a set period of time.
He may also be willing to offer you enough money to set you on a path for financial independence, instead of always having to ask him for support. Your father is not invincible. He may be afraid of family members finding out, or his reputation being damaged, or financial consequences. You can think about ways to leverage your position and step up for yourself. Having witnesses to the conversation can also be a leverage.
4. If you were to escalate the situation to get justice, I invite you to read more about Transformative Justice practices. Check out BATJC for information on how you may be able to find personal justice, release, and closure. Depending on where you live, you may also have the option to pursue your case through the criminal justice system. Currently, our criminal justice system fails to support survivors in a meaningful way, so please consider the risks before pursuing this option.*
Finally, I want to assure you that there is hope for people like you and me. It’s a difficult road but one we journey— together. Keep investing in yourself and your well being, go to therapy, keep up with your #sobriety. If there were only one thing you could do, I’d say, keep taking care of yourself as you have. Stay focused and remember you have the power to do what is right for you.
#heal2end #CSAsurvivor #survivorship #mentalhealth #transformativejustive #abuse of power
*At The HEAL Project, we believe there are other often better solutions than calling the police to address CSA. Before involving law enforcement, we strongly recommend considering the potential consequences for all parties involved. Please read more about Transformative Justice as an alternative or complementary approach here: https://batjc.wordpress.com/ipv-intervention-resources/