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What Do SA Survivors Need the Most?

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By Geni J. White

Thirteen-year old Christy* (named changed) heard me speak about sexual abuse on our church radio program. She dreaded pregnancy from years of her father’s incest and arrived at my office without her parents’ knowledge.

We counseled together. Soon she wanted to confront her father. In those days, little research existed about sexual abuse. We didn’t know that legally guilty offenders in a court-ordered offenders group denied guilt even after five or six sessions of hearing other perpetrator’s confessions. So Christy should never have confronted her father with her mother present.

Christy’s father strongly denied incest, so the mother and I talked alone. I insisted that Christy desperately needed her mother to believe and protect her. This poor woman heard too much too fast and didn’t respond.

Psychologists didn’t accept sexual abuse as real and damaging to a child’s ability to trust. Without trust, how can survivors fully know God? Rebuilding trust begins when a survivor receives empathic, non-judgmental support, their most vital need. The mother
should be this key figure.

Psychologists believed Freud’s teaching that sexual abuse was a child’s fantasy. In the 1970’s angry feminists banding together insisted on the truth. The church failed the hurting so God apparently allowed feminism to rise and speak.

Christy and I had discussed that I was mandated by law to report the family to social services. No one wanted this child removed from her home. However, I had no choice. I prayed much for Christy to find hope with a stable foster family, but I never heard from her again.

©Geni White. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Bio:

Geni White is a retired psych RN and former licensed counseling pastor.