When Outing Your Father for Child Rape Breaks Up Your Family
By: Beth McHugh 2008
Sadly fathers do rape their own children and sometimes they even rape their infant children. They can even rape several daughters over a period of years.
Although this is a crime involving a prison sentence, many perpetrators go undisclosed. There are many reasons for this, the predominant one being fear. Children notoriously keep quite about sexual abuse because, depending on their age at the time of abuse, they may not even be aware that what is happening to them is abuse.
Many adult women who were sexually abused by their fathers do go on to report that abuse to the relevant authorities. But such is the dysfunction and enmeshment of many families in which father-daughter rape occurs, that the victim themselves is often re-victimized, this time by members of their own family.
Karen had been raped by her father since she was six years old. But she was also aware that her two elder sisters had also experienced the same treatment. No-one talked about it. Her mother knew what was going on but for reasons of her own, chose to turn a blind eye to the proceedings. One day Karen came home from school to hear screaming coming from the back bedroom. Glancing in, she saw her father raping her two-year-old sister. She quietly closed the door, afraid of doing anything to help her.
But when Karen was in her 20s, her depression and drinking were getting out of hand. She could no longer hold down a job. She finally went to a rape crisis center and told her story. She was referred to a psychiatrist and placed on antidepressants.
It took years of therapy for Karen to grasp some semblance of power and self-respect back. The events of her childhood had almost completely killed her spirit. Almost.
As she improved, she became angry. She decided to confront her father and go to the police. A seemingly amazing, but not uncommon event then happened. Her sisters all turned on her. Undaunted, she decided to take her father to court where he was found guilty. But this came at a big price for Karen. Her sisters, who had all been raped repeatedly by this “father”, refused to speak to Karen and refused to supply corroborating evidence in court. In fact, one of her sisters told her that “this was the way our father showed us he loved us”.
The latter behavior is sadly not uncommon. It is the actions of a woman so damaged by her childhood experiences that this is how she deals with it... not only by totally denying the abuse but actually putting a positive spin on it. One of Karen’s sisters later committed suicide, unable to reconcile her current thinking with memories of her past.
In all cases of abuse it is so important to look at the truth and accept it, no matter how painful, and slowly work through it to a place of acceptance. To not accept leaves the door open to even more profound pain.