A Dad’s Voice Part 1
A Dad’s Voice – Part One
Being a parent or carer of a survivor can be incredibly tough. There can be so many feelings that come in the weeks, months and years after finding out. How people thought they thought they might react is often different to what actually happens.
One of our Parent VOICE Group members, ‘Jasper’, is writing a three part blog on his experiences in which he explores some challenges that seem to him specifically related to being a dad – and the often painful confrontations of what being a man could or should mean when sexual abuse happens.
If you are a dad or male carer and interested in connecting with other men around this experience, please click here.
Over the next three editions I’m going to try to put into words my experiences and thoughts and feelings, from initial disclosure five years ago until now.
The objective of this Blog is to show you are not alone, others are in the same boat and that reading about others’ experiences can help on your journey.
The beginning of my new normal.
I’ve been made redundant twice. I have lost my father and my mother and father-in-law to cancer. These horrendous times in my life were, well, crap. I fully understand and appreciate, given that life progresses naturally, things change for you as an adult. I also understand that things happen to the ones you love, however, what I never expected to hear was my daughter explaining to my wife and I that she had been abused by her older cousin, my nephew, my sister’s son.
She was 12 and it had been happening from the age of 8.
I had always said to myself, friends and family when subject of child abuse was in the press or TV, that I would kill anyone who touched my daughter inappropriately, and I wholeheartedly believed it. I thought all men think like this surely?
When this life changing sickening revelation broke, I felt nothing, absolutely nothing towards him at all. I was very, very confused. I thought there was something wrong with me. I had ALWAYS felt the solution would be making them pay for what they had done, whatever the consequences for me – he had ruined my daughter’s life, therefore he would deserve it. I felt like this was naturally what would happen – it was hardwired as a dad.
In reality, however life is not like that. I felt sick with guilt – like the fact I didn’t just let loose on him meant I somehow wasn’t angry enough or protecting my daughter enough. In that moment that instinct just wasn’t what entered my head – and that felt really weird. I felt weirdly calm instead, and guilty for it, like I was being less of a man and a complete failure as a dad.
I was speaking to the policeman who was frequently at the house over the months after the revelations. When I asked him if he found many dads with this dilemma and are confused with their feeling, he said a simple thing to me which made it clear.
“It’s not in you to kill someone no matter what they do, you are a good person and good people don’t kill people.”
I took this information and over the course of a few days began to realise that the reason is, although have my flaws and faults, deep down I am a good person. Straight away, rather than revenge and violence towards the perpetrator, love, understanding and protection for my daughter was what came to the fore. He didn’t matter, she needed me more than ever, and my wife and I being there was the most important thing in her life at that precise moment in time. This and believing her was what instinctively came to light.
Nothing could change what had happened, the damage was done, all of our focus was getting her through the first stages after disclosure.
I’m her dad that will always protect her, Right? She could confide in me more now that his secret was out.
Then came the guilt that I hadn’t protected her for the last 4 years of her life. You can read more on this in my next blog post.