Family Support is Absolutely Essential
Over the past year we have developed a new service at One in Four. Most of the people who come to us have been sexually abused within their families – by a father, brother, uncle, grandfather and sometimes by a female relative. If the offender is still alive, the survivor is often very concerned about the safety of other children in the family. The man who abused his own children might now have access to grandchildren, the abusive uncle might be targeting a whole new generation of children. This means that the survivor has to disclose their abuse to family members and this can cause a huge disturbance in the family.
Some family members immediately believe and support the survivor but others cannot accept what has happened and reject the survivor. Some of course may have been abused themselves. The family really needs support at this time.
In this type of situation we offer to meet with all the members of the family who wish to come. This sometimes will include the offender but most often not. We have a series of meetings to explore the impact of the disclosure of abuse on each family member and to allow the survivor to describe the effect the abuse has had on him or her. It also allows the family the chance to begin to understand how sexual abuse happens in families, what are the factors in their particular family that enabled the abuser. Most importantly, it helps the family to understand what must happen if other children are to be kept safe.
Last year we helped over 53 families and the demand is growing. The feedback has been very positive from survivors and from families. By giving people the space to talk to each other and by empowering them with information, real change can happen and the next generation is protected
from sexual harm.