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Helping a Molest Survivor

Here’s a response from Jimmy to an SHM forum member who is trying to help his girlfriend who is a molest survivor. Jimmy said:

As for your question about why a father would molest his daughter, you bring up a very serious and important issue. Your girlfriend is very lucky to have you care so much about her that you are trying to understand what has happened. It is often by talking and putting words to our feelings with people who are loving with us that we eventually get healed.  This is particularly true of survivors of molest, sexual abuse and other childhood trauma.

Fathers who molest their daughters are suffering from their own demons, their own inadequacies and often, their own sexual abuse. All that may be helpful for you to know, but it won’t be helpful for your girlfriend right now.

Given the symptoms you described her as having, is it most likely that she would do best to see a professionally trained psychotherapist. Not a counselor, but a psychotherapist. On average, a psychotherapist has twice as much training as a counselor.

You can make this a whole lot easier on her if you go with her. Tell her you will wait outside the office, go into the office and even go into the session if she prefers. If you go into the session, stay in the room as long as she wants you to, and only leave whenever she tells you to. Tell her that even if the therapist wants you to leave, you will stay if she wants you to stay. Thumbs down.

Make yourself completely available to her, but let her be in charge of everything. She will need that sense of being in control to counter-act the very real sense of being out of control, as she talks about these issues with a therapist.

Take charge to get her there because she has told you all this for a reason. She probably needs you to take charge and get her there, slowly, tenderly, and respectfully. Do whatever she wants you to do, just get her to see a SPECIALIST – not just any person on a webpage from her insurance company. Call them, screen them yourself. They will all tell you to have her call them. But it ok for you to ask to talk to them first. Insist on it if you like.

If she is reluctant to go, open the door for her by getting a sense of the people for her.  So talk to them first, but only if it will be easier for her.

Whoever calls, listen carefully to the therapist’s tone. Listen to their choice of words. Do you feel comfortable with their approach to you as her boyfriend calling on her behalf, or are they jerks? Do they make you feel important and part of this team, or like you need to step aside? Listen to your gut. Whatever they do with you, they eventually will do with her.

Really important: make sure they have seen at least 50 molest and/or incest survivors.
If not, hang up and keep dialing.

Get a couple experienced people to agree to meet with her. Then go with her and do as I suggested above. She can get through all of this, especially if you help her.

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