A Heart-Broken Mother

I want to talk about the impact of sexual assault on a child. Not from my perspective as a social worker but as a mother.

My oldest daughter was sexually assaulted as a very young child…under the age of five. It happened while she was staying with relatives on her father’s side…not professing. However, all the kids hurt by professing predators would be struggling in similar ways.

She was the happiest little kid. As a child, we missed a lot of the signs. She was extremely clingy as a child. I thought I was just lucky to have a kiddo who loved me so much and wanted to be with me all the time. The clinginess turned into extreme anxiety and emotional issues. She had melt-downs regularly at school from day one. Anything that threatened her feeling secure, such as her friend playing with another kid at recess. She constantly felt unsafe with people. As she grew older, she started wearing oversized baggy clothes and didn’t like to be touched or hugged and was uncomfortable with emotions and anyone showing her love and affection.

She struggled with depression and anxiety and became very cold and stand offish with everyone. She became numb and almost stopped hitting maturity markers. She was vulnerable, and in some ways, just less mature than her age group. Her therapist warned us she’s extremely vulnerable to peer pressure and anyone with bad intentions or influences. She is almost hypersexual in some ways while being so afraid of human touch…she would never act out on it with another person.

She started having nightmares that presented in fragments. Bits of memory would come back, and it was terrifying for her. We put her in therapy, and she pieced together slowly what her toddler brain could remember. Being in bed sleeping and waking to a man sexually assaulting her. We had suspicions back then and had taken her to the doctor for swollen bruised looking private parts and were told it was a severe yeast infection and not CSA. This was when we lived in Jamaica.

As a parent, it’s the worst feeling to feel like you missed something so horrible. That you failed to protect your child. If there is anything that could drive me to murder…it’s someone hurting my child. Her father’s side of the family refuses to acknowledge this happened and essentially called her a liar, so she has cut them off, and we support that fully and have done the same with most of them.

She started looking for outlets to let out her pain, and that’s when the cutting and suicide attempts began. We have spent more than one night at children’s hospital in the psych area begging for help for her.

She spends far too much time alone in fantasy worlds instead of going out with friends. She has zero drive for school or a social life.

I think it’s so important for people to understand what CSA does to a child. It destroys them. Every time I hear that someone doesn’t want to hear about what’s going on with the friends and workers and all of the CSA/SA scandals and predators…my blood boils.

CSA/SA is not just a letter from a victim or an email from the workers or elders. There are humans behind those letters who were horribly victimized and are now struggling to pick up the pieces. It’s trauma and PTSD, pain, self-harming, suicide attempts, nightmares, anxiety, not feeling safe, lack of trust, depression, etc. These and a million more things. Behind the stories, there are people who struggle every day for the rest of their life.

It’s also moms or dads like me who cry endless tears and feel like they failed their child. It’s the horrible pain of not being able to remove this trauma from your child. It’s seeing scars on the arms and legs of my child from cutting to trying and let out enough of the pain so she could bear life. It’s therapy bills and hospital visits and suicide attempts. Someone hurt my baby bad enough that at times death is preferable to life for her. Someone has taken so much from her.

Anyone among the friends who thinks this isn’t a big deal or would rather it silently go away…is as much of a monster as the predators who committed the acts. If anyone thinks it’s ok for a child to be condemned to a lifetime of this kind of suffering and trauma…they are as evil as the monsters hurting them.

I have family members who were victimized by professing predators as children, and now well into their adulthoods…it still hurts and traumatizes just as much now or more. This isn’t something that goes away—no matter how long it’s swept under the rug. I wish I could scream at some of the friends and workers and make them see this is what it causes. I don’t understand how anyone can NOT take this seriously or want it silenced or covered up.

By Ash Lee
June 7, 2023