Mastering Play Therapy

My children are play therapists. They have a thriving community of small people who live and work together and hammer out the tough issues of life in community. These people are wiser and more together than most full-sized humans and I attribute this to my daughters’ wisdom and unfortunately, to the things they have endured in their young lives.

A short time after we found out they had been abused by their adopted brother, a story surfaced from their play world.

It is still very hard for me to face–Charles groomed the children by using their toys. He made some of them have sex. This idea was so awful to face or talk about that it took me awhile to get what the kids were telling me.

Two innocent little toys were robbed of their innocence. We had to do something. I staged a healing ceremony. We talked about the non-consensual nature of what had been done to them. I hoped it would help.

Now, years later, I have to say it helped the girl more than the boy. The girl has struggled to overcome what was done to her. She went from being a victim to a survivor. The boy, however, became a villain. I won’t go into all his crimes but he has done a lot of bad things. He can’t seem to change and he has left brokenness in his path.

My older daughter speaks of these things with both sadness and wisdom. She says that although she is not happy that F. has never turned things around, she knows he too was a victim of abuse.

I don’t have an answer for what F or any of us could do to change his villainy. Maybe when I do I will have mastered play therapy.

How to heal sexual abuse

Imagine your child is the most beautiful baby in the world. Now imagine they are a beautiful toddler, then preschooler and then kindergartner.

(yes, I know your child is the most beautiful of all these things–this is why I wrote it that way– so you could empathize)

Imagine you homeschool because you enjoy time with your child so much. Imagine your child is both smart and good, charming and graceful and funny.

Now imagine you discover that your child has been sexually abused by someone they trusted. Someone you let be around your child. You trusted the abuser too.

When you find out that all this has happened before your child is 6, how will you feel? What will you do?

I can only tell you what I did. The first thing I did was grieve. I cried for at least a month. I cried for three years. I cried yesterday.

The next thing I did was ask how could I have missed it? The abuser was highly deceptive. Most are.

Then I stared right into the face of an awful list. On it were:

Acting out sexually
Academic problems
Anger issues
Small cutting
Suicidal behavior
Poor hygiene
Gender identity crisis
Eating disorder
Low self esteem

Imagine you are the mother of the most beautiful child in the world and you do not want your child to struggle with the things on that list. You want healing.

I prayed and the answer I got was remarkably simple: the truth will set you free.

I had a hard time at first because of the list. I hated the idea that people would judge my child because of what had been done to her instead of seeing she was not those things.
She was just another 5 year old crime victim. Five year old rape victim.

You don’t get your head around that right away. Hurts too much.

But I began to tell our story. I used the language of the criminal code because what had been done was a crime.

As I told the story I found out one thing for sure: the list is wrong, really wrong.

How do I know? Because the vast majority of rape and child sexual abuse survivors never show up on the list, never reveal their stories.

They live quiet, normal, functioning lives with no predetermined set of symptoms from the list except the terrible loneliness and pain that comes with the betrayal of their innocence and the added weight of attempting to heal alone.

Why would they need to heal alone?
The list.
Who wants to have to deal with terrible pain of sexual abuse AND the stigma of that list?

Not me. I wouldn’t. But I have chosen to let the truth set me free and it has.

My beautiful child is no more at risk of the things on that list than any other child. In fact she is far less so.

Because she has me and I would swallow a world of pain, humiliation and prejudice before I would let her walk the road into adulthood alone.

In fact. I want to get rid of the list. It a terrible fiction.