Comments for Other than counselling, what are my father's options?

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Feb 14, 2008
Moral support...
by: Darlene Barriere - Webmaster

Nicole, you are being a terrific and caring daughter looking into this on behalf of your father and aunt. I commend you for that.

I do not know if there is a statute of limitations in the state of California (or any other state) for charges of child abuse. You'll have to contact an attorney to learn the legal options available to your father and aunt. I will, however, offer some guidance regarding the whole issue of closure through the court system, and the ability to "get over" the emotional trauma that child abuse survivors are left with.

Nicole, even if legal options are available to your father and his sister for the abuse they suffered at the hands of their abusive stepmother, there is no guarantee that going to court will lead to closure. Indeed, what CAN happen is re-victimization, especially if there isn't enough evidence to support a guilty verdict. And even if a judge finds the abuser guilty, the victim/survivor is still left to deal with the emotional trauma of the original events.

I'm not saying that victims should not seek legal redress; what I'm saying is that the child abuse survivor must go into this with their eyes wide open to the possible outcome of a "not guilty" verdict.

Either way, your father and aunt need counselling in order to deal with their emotional trauma. They need to allow themselves to feel the anger and hatred for their abuser in order to get beyond it. Counselling can provide a safe environment for them to do that. Counselling can help both of them learn WHY they feel the way they do, and how to deal with those emotions in a healthy way when they do crop up. But what counselling cannot do is wipe away or make them forget what happened to them; nothing short of the unthinkable can do that.

As they get stronger, they will have the ability to make the decision to NOT allow that vile, abusive woman that they were forced to call stepmother, control one more minute of their life. That pitiful excuse-of-a-woman doesn't deserve one more second of wasted time. As children, they had no rights or choices; as adults, they can choose to live their lives to the fullest.

Perhaps as daughter and niece, you'll be able to help them discover different choices. Perhaps you can refer them to this website and the hundreds of stories posted here by child abuse survivors from around the world. They may find solace in knowing they are not alone. They may find healing in the comments that have been, and are continually being, offered. They may find strength in the strength of other survivors. But remember, the changes to the way they think have to come from them.

I wish you, your father and your aunt all the best, Nicole. They didn't deserve what they got for a stepmother, but they deserve to have such a loving daughter and niece in you.

Darlene Barriere
Violence & Abuse Prevention Educator
Author: On My Own Terms, A Memoir

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From Victim to Victory
a memoir

How I got over the devastating effects of child abuse and moved on with my life

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