As with any traumatic event you might be having trouble with acknowledging that something like this has happened. You are probably riddled with confusion, doubt, guilt, blame, shock, horror and a whole host of feelings that haven’t really had time to manifest yet. Denial may be your first reaction.
Your immediate concern should be with the victim and understanding their pain and grief has probably been all too real for you personally. As a parent or carer, you are naturally trying to protect your child and should be encouraging them to seek professional help, whilst assuring them of your own support. But who is going to offer you the support you need?
The first thing you can do is try and find a support network. A support network could be just one close friend, a group of friends or even a therapist or counsellor. They should be there for you, offer you a shoulder to cry on or friendly advice when needed. You need this support network so that you can continue your support for your sibling whilst still maintaining your own sanity.
As with all victims of abuse, no matter how you are connected, you must stay safe. You can find out more about your safety and the safety of your family by reading our Safety First Section.
Finally before you go on you must accept what has happened. To continue you must acknowledge that the abuse took place. If you remain in denial and always look for alternative explanations you won’t truly be able to heal.
Denial takes many forms and it is mentioned regularly throughout these web pages. Although you have no reason to doubt your sibling, you can’t imagine it ever happening and therefore are refusing to accept that the abuse took place. logically you must try to take a pace back and ask yourself why your sibling would lie. especially lie about something as traumatic as this.
You may be the type of parent who has never been subjected to any kind of abuse, either in your own life or through the media. therefore accepting that abuse has taken place is hard enough to imagine, let alone when it has happened to someone you love.
On the other hand you may have come from an abusive background yourself and done everything you an to protect your sibling from abuse. you may have taken every conceivable precaution to prevent abuse, but somehow, and for some reason they have still been abused.
Which ever end of the spectrum you come from, you have to acknowledge your sibling’s abuse story. not just for their sanity but for yours.
Staying in the denial stage is costly. It stifles creativity; the parent/carer cannot think spontaneously because they are censoring themselves to avoid thinking about the abuse. Keeping the thoughts locked away requires a lot of energy; even more energy is required to keep those emotions at bay!. Recovery frees this energy for other uses.
A helpful technique throughout all stages of recovery is writing letters that you never send. Writing helps you to slow down your thoughts and start to become more aware of your emotions. It’s important to feel your feelings as well as think them. Some people express themselves more freely through art. Perhaps you could try clay, or making a picture book of your life. Try drawing a picture of anger, or of fear. You’ll be surprised what comes up. it may sound daft, but believe if you are having trouble expressing how you feel just sit down with pen and paper and see what happens.
Remember you are victim too so treat yourself gently and take your time.