To the parents who have to hear about what my daughter has been through, be it because she has mentioned it to your children or because I explained that I couldn’t watch your child on the day my Social Worker is visiting…
Please, try to understand.
I know that you don’t want to hear about it. I know that it is shocking, and distressing, and that you don’t know what to say. That’s okay.
But when you make that shocked, disgusted face, please don’t make it at my family situation in general. Make it at the horror of our past, or at the realisation that these awful things do happen, but do not look at my daughter with that face.
She is not tainted by the disgusting acts that he committed. She is not dirty, or broken, or ruined. She does not tell your child what happened because she wants attention or is proud of it, but because I told her how brave she was for telling me. Because she doesn’t realise quite how monstrous child sexual abuse is. Because she can’t imagine your child’s blissful ignorance, not knowing that these things happen.
When you offer sympathy, don’t be offended when I look away. I am not brushing you off, but every time I hear someone say, “I wouldn’t have coped!” I have to remember the times that I almost didn’t. The hours I spent holding my child while she sobbed; while she told me how much she had hated what had happened; while she described it in graphic detail. It’s hard for me.
To the parents who blame me, or don’t want their children near my daughter for fear of what she might say next; I’m sorry. I have no control over what she says, or how you take it. Please understand, we are trying to be normal, just like you, and to fit in with you. We want to be friends. If you can’t bear the past that follows us, I can understand that – but please stop glaring at us. Please don’t whisper and point in the playground. It’s hurtful.
And lastly, to the parent today, who I never met before, who asked me what had happened and took the information on board without pulling a face, stumbling over words or getting angry. Thank you. Thank you so much. You understood, and you moved the conversation on. You made me feel confident that one day we will fit in with “normal” people just the way we used to, before all this struck us down. You made me feel okay, in the terrifying setting of a child’s birthday party, where I have suffered the consequences of my daughter telling her story once before. You give me hope. So thank you.
Sincerely, A Hopeful Mother