Seeking Help After Trauma

Pregunta

When I was 14, my father sexually harassed me by taking advantage of my curiosity and naivety. What started as innocent questions turned into him sharing inappropriate details about his sexual experiences and desires, including expressing a sexual interest in me. He manipulated me into thinking it was acceptable and even convinced me to let him take inappropriate photos of me. Although he never physically touched me, he allowed me to touch him. I was the one who eventually stopped it, not him. Now, at 18, I'm no longer ignoring what happened. I feel hurt and betrayed, and I don't know how to handle this situation with my father. What should I do?

Respuesta

I am so sorry that you experienced this sexual harassment and manipulation at the hands of your father. What he did was completely unacceptable, and it's crucial to understand that none of it was your fault. You were a curious child, and your father took advantage of your trust and vulnerability. His actions were a severe violation of the parent-child relationship, and you have every right to feel hurt, betrayed, and confused.

It's important to prioritize your safety and well-being as you navigate this situation. If you feel comfortable and safe doing so, consider reaching out to a trusted adult, such as a family member, counselor, or therapist, who can provide support and guidance. They can help you process your emotions and explore your options moving forward.

Remember that you have the right to set boundaries with your father and decide what kind of relationship, if any, you want to have with him. You are not obligated to maintain a relationship with someone who has violated your trust and caused you harm, even if they are a family member.

If you feel ready, you may choose to confront your father about his actions and express how his behavior has affected you. However, it's essential to prioritize your emotional safety and have a support system in place if you decide to take this step. A therapist can help you prepare for this conversation and provide strategies for coping with any potential aftermath. Take a look at another of our recent answers for more tips about how to go about doing this if this is something you are considering. 

Please know that you are not alone in this experience, and there are resources available to support you. Consider reaching out to organizations that specialize in supporting survivors of sexual abuse, such as RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) or a local sexual assault support center. These organizations can provide confidential support, resources, and guidance as you navigate this difficult situation.

The healing journey is not a linear process, so it's essential to be patient and compassionate with yourself. Seeking professional help, such as therapy, can be incredibly beneficial as you work through the complex emotions and trauma associated with sexual harassment and betrayal. You do not need to go through this all on your own.

Remember, you are strong, resilient, and worthy of love and respect. What happened to you was not your fault, and you have the right to heal and move forward on your own terms. I am so sorry that this happened to you. Thank you for trusting us with your story.

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