Gransnet forums


What do you say to your daughter when she tells you many years later that she has been raped?

(21 Posts)
lucyinthesky Tue 27-May-14 17:45:37

An article in today's Independent reminded me of DD2 telling me some years after the event that she lost her virginity to a date rape whilst travelling on her gap year.

As I recall I was as sympathetic to her as anyone can be in those circumstances but there was nothing legally she could do because a) it was in he past and b) took place in Thailand.

When I emailed her a copy of the article above which I found moving and wanted her to know that though it doesn't help come to terms with any individual experience, she is far from being alone in this happening but her response was that at the time I 'was pretty useless, but never mind.'

I feel completely gobsmacked now. I thought I helped her as much as I could by listening to her at the time and she was also seeing a therapist then (and still is) so what should I have done? What can I do now?

Stansgran Tue 27-May-14 18:19:14

You remind your self that you did the best you could under the circumstances. You were probably in shock your self as some thing that hurts a child hurts us as a parent. There are people who are good with advice on here .i didn't want to read this and not say anything. I still remember my daughter telling me that she spent a night on a train across Europe with some one trying to get into her compartment . What might have been if he had succeeded doesn't bear thinking aboutflowers

lucyinthesky Tue 27-May-14 18:28:06

Thanks stansgran DD2 has just made me feel guilty and I really don't know what I could have done under the circumstances. So glad your daughter wasn't attacked x

Brendawymms Tue 27-May-14 19:16:32

You could not change the past for your daughter and you could not chase her 'dragons'. She probably did not know what she wanted from you at the time and a lack of 'magic wands' is always the way.
She probably felt "pretty useless" herself and needed to project those feelings onto the safest person she could, namely you.
You have not said how many years she has been seeing a therapist but I personally do not think long term therapy is often the answer.
You did what you could for her at the time and should not feel in any way that you did not succeed. You should not consider yourself her rescuer now as it will not help for her to remain a victim. She should be angry with her attacker not you.

granjura Tue 27-May-14 19:50:54

Nothing you can do now- you did your best. Just make her know you are there for you, and you don't blame her or judge her in any way (some parents do, sadly).

But personally, I'd never put something like this on the Internet- as we all know bits of GN are often lifted for elsewhere. If I were you, I'd ask GN to erase thread.

whenim64 Tue 27-May-14 20:03:20

lucy your feelings of guilt are understandable but not warranted. It sounds like you responded with care and concern and now both your daughter and you can choose to move on and not be victimised any further by what was done to her back then. If you can, sit down together and share your feelings, and decide you will both take responsibility for how you each feel now. If you could have prevented it, you would - so would she. The person who harmed her shouldn't be allowed to harm either of you any further. There are support organisations like Rape Crisis who will point you in the right direction if either of you feel you need counselling at this stage, including seeing you together for one or two sessions, and perhaps your daughter's therapist could review with her the pros and cons of continuing with this therapy, given it seems to be long term. Good luck.

susieb755 Tue 27-May-14 21:02:31

I am so sorry Lucy, - some rape victims cannot always explain or ask for what they need, and will lash out at nearest and dearest. She probably didnt , and still doesn't know what she needed - if the moment is ever right, suggest she seek help from her local SARC ( sexual abuse and rape crisis ).

It took me 40 years to acknowledge , and put a name to what happened to me, I kept it a shameful dirty secret that ate away at me, and made me feel worthless - at least she felt confident enough in your love to tell you what had

lucyinthesky Tue 27-May-14 21:18:57

Susieb755 thank you for your comment -I do hope after so much time has passed since your own dreadful experience that you are OK now.

DD has felt worthless for a long time, and some it is due to the rape for sure. It seems from what she has just written to me though that she expected more from me, but she doesn't say what and doesn't reply when I ask her. This is by email as I'm not at home now for another few weeks.
When I am back I shall ask her if she has/is addressing this anger that she still has about the rape with her therapist.

granjura Is there something on this thread that I should be concerned about? I do wonder how many other Mums have been put in a similar situation by their daughters who are trying to cope with the aftermath of rape. I for one still feel helpless.

64 thanks for the mention of Rape Crisis - I'll check and see what advice they may have. Should have done it at the time I guess. No excuse but she told me during the first year that her father and I split up, and tbh I was nowhere near the best of mothers during that period. I could barely look after myself let alone a 25 year old daughter who was also suffering from her father's betrayal. I so admire mothers who do cope with their kids while undergoing their own problems in life!

brenda thanks for your message - DD has been in therapy on and off for a number of years with different therapists when she has moved home. I think she is angry with me cos I'm the one that is around (and love her unconditionally of course) Yes she should be angry with her attacker but he is long gone, probably to date rape others when they've drunk a little more than they should :-(

granjura Tue 27-May-14 21:40:23

I totally understand your feelings of helplessness- and you desire to share and talk. But I would be just too concerned that my daughter would ever find out I'd written about it on an open and very public Forum.

Iam64 Wed 28-May-14 09:27:02

lucy - sorry to read about your daughter's experience, and about her response to you emailing the article. I'm sure that in sending her the article, you were empathising with her experience and trying to show that she isn't alone. It's so easy for words to be misinterpreted, as we have seen on this forum on occasions when umbrage is taken, when no offence was meant. Maybe this horrible experience is one that's better talked about face to face so any misunderstandings can be more easily smoothed over.

I hope the therapy is helpful for your daughter. Take care of yourself, flowers

annsixty Wed 28-May-14 09:52:45

I just wonder if in fact,although you say she is having therapy, it is something she doesn't want to be reminded of ,and your sending her the article brought it all to the front of her mind and she is living through the dreadful events again.

lucyinthesky Wed 28-May-14 10:56:45

annsixty you may well be right and it has just brought back the horror of it all.

Iam64 I can only talk face-to-face when I am back home mid June :-( and I suspect she won't want to talk, but I will try as if she hasn't discussed her feelings about it with her therapist it might help her to do so now and not to continue to carry the baggage.

Interestingly enough I feel very upset myself again now at thinking about what she went through (although at the time of telling she made light of it).

lucyinthesky Wed 28-May-14 10:57:40

granjura I have nobody to talk to about this, so have to take the risk :-(

granjura Wed 28-May-14 10:59:00

I am so sorry to hear this lucyinthesky- and hope you find the advice and comfort you need. flowers

GadaboutGran Wed 28-May-14 11:50:52

There is only harm in bringing the subject up again if nothing is done abut it again. If it can be brought back it means it has never gone away, only to be hidden where it can fester. See this as a useful signpost to where you both are but this time deal with it differently, as you are now by talking about it at least on GN. Hidden trauma is like a naughty child banished to another room - it will keep shouting & knocking on the door until it is given attention. Am I right in think your daughter was 25 when it happened? If so she was an adult & responsible for how she handled it & it sounds like you did all you knew how to do at that point & no doubt have given her much love before & after.
My niece was dated raped at 16 & didn't tell her parents for 2 years. In that time she became seriously anorectic. In the end she had therapy & treatment for herpes & is now a vibrant young woman with 3 lovely young daughters.
My other experience is with a teacher I worked with. She told me how she had to rush to France when her DD told her she was suicidal. She then learnt her DD had been raped by her own father who was still married to her mother. Imagine her guilt at never suspecting this & then the loss of her own marriage. You really are not alone lucy. I do hope you get the help you need - your daughter already has hers & if we as Mums can't do it all we can check they have some other help. If you can really listen to her anger without judgment it may help - as long as she gives you the chance to speak about your guilt & hurt.

lucyinthesky Wed 28-May-14 13:12:09

Gadabout My daughter was 18 and on her gap year travels in Thailand when it happened - she lost her virginity due to the rape. When she went to uni on her return she had a great relationship that lasted 6 years but due to her mental health problems it fell apart three years ago.

I have tried to support her as much as I am able and she has told me what a kind and caring Mum I am but I guess I shouldn't have sent her the article after all. Have emailed her to apologise for doing so. I don't think I judge her even though she can be very difficult to be around sometimes!

lucyinthesky Wed 28-May-14 13:18:47

Thank you everyone for your support - it made me realise that sometimes I must be rather insensitive.

I have now sent DD an email apologising for yesterday and received her thanks for 'a nice email.'

Now to ensure that she is getting the support she needs to get over the trauma which appears to have been one of the causes to blight her life. Maybe by bringing it to the fore as I inadvertently did she may talk to her therapist about it. Here's hoping.

whenim64 Wed 28-May-14 13:22:34

You don't sound insensitive to me lucy. Just a loving mum flowers

Iam64 Wed 28-May-14 13:30:30

Lucy, you don't sound insensitive to me either. As others have said, you aren't alone in not always meeting your adult child's needs in exactly the way she feels she needs at that exact moment in time. I'm glad you've exchanged more positive emails. Don't forget to look after yourself in the midst of your anxieties about your daughter. yet more flowers

lucyinthesky Wed 28-May-14 13:42:28

Many thanks for the flowers 64

KatyK Wed 28-May-14 14:52:48

Lucy flowers I'm not sure what more you could have done. When my sister in law died suddenly a few years ago, my sisters and myself did as much as we possibly could to help my brother and nephew who were left behind. Some years later my brother said to me 'you lot gave us no support'. I was shocked. Maybe they are traumatised or so hurt they want to hurt someone else. I don't know really.