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Ask a Therapist: How Do I Hold My Abuser Accountable?

From the time I was 8-12 I was sexually abused as well as my brother who is 4 years younger than I am . As I am getting older I am learning the thread of lies that I was told from my family regarding the situation. Growing up I believed my grandmother adopted a child from Haiti, he was 8 years older than I am. Through the time he was 19 he sexually abused myself and my younger brother. I repressed much of my memories from childhood due to this but I vividly remember the abuse. My mother took me to the University of Massachusetts sexual abuse center where I was tested for rape and attended counseling. My parents moved us to Florida away from this. I assumed he had been in trouble until recently when I found out that his high school counselor told my parents he would be deported if they reported it and it was never reported to police. After we moved for years he continued to call to talk to my brother and myself but we refused to talk to him. My grandmother and father hid most of what happened. Now that I am 29 I want him to be held accountable for his actions. To make sure he isn’t hurting any other children. I am not sure what to do or how to handle it. I wanted to contact him and after much research learned he changed his name and still was not legally in this country. Because of this abuse I have sexual issues , depression and still cannot trust people. I have seen three therapists and it never helps, just knowing he is married with a child makes me sick and scared.

A: I’m so incredibly sorry about the abuse you and your brother suffered. I suggest gathering as much information as you can about him today. Then contact Child Protective Services in your state and just ask how they would handle it. It is often empowering for a victim to report and take action against the perpetrator, even years later. Watch the video for the rest of the answer.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: Never Alone But Always Lonely

Q: (16 year old young woman in India) I am an intelligent girl. Always one of those A+ types. And like all geeky girls on the planet I have no friends. I do have these bunch of people I hang out with in school but we aren’t really true friends. Once when we had a talk with this career counselor our lunch period got missed. I was supposed to eat from the canteen that day. But since lunch was over the canteen got closed. And my so-called friends happily came to the place where I sit and had their lunch which they had brought from home without offering me a thing! I remained hungry throughout the day.

My parents are separated and like typical chauvinistic men my father can’t think beyond my brother. Whenever we meet he only talks about my brother and his future. My father didn’t even want me to be born!! He had tried to get my mom to abort me.

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Ask A Therapist: I’m Caring for Mentally Ill Adult Brother

Q: If something was to happen to me my brother would not be able to survive.  I need help. My mother adopted my brother at 13 whom is 21 now.  He had been foster care since he was 2 years old.  They labeled him as mentally ill.  We would hit is head on the wall, get upset and not talk for hours, and walk with his head shaking and hand dangling.  He was in LD classes in school and had visited 33 different schools in his lifetime.  Growing up he moved to main stream classes and currently he is in his 3rd year in college but just started taking regular classes.  My mother passed away in 2007 and it was left to my dad to raise him.  My dad tried to get him help and was told that he could take care of himself.  My dad could not handle it any longer so I took him in.  It took him 7 times to pass his test to get his license.  He does maintain a dish washing job.  The best I can discribe him is he can do things but needs to be reminded and has no sense of reasoning.  Only follows directions but will follow them exactly.  Just yesterday he didn’t understand that if he couldn’t make it to work that he had to let them know.  He thought he could just go in the next day and tell them.  I have remind him to clean his room, and he isn’t apart of the household.  He just stays in his room all the time.  I have realized he needs someone for a lifetime and I can’t provide it.  I am a single mother of three girls and need help.  He needs help with his finances.  I didn’t realize that til he was 500 dollars in the hole and wasn’t paying any bills.  I just don’t know where to start to get him the help that he needs.  Please help.

A: Thanks for writing in for help. I want to commend your for taking in your brother. That is very courageous. It sounds extremely difficult to see no end in sight, and to know how vulnerable he would be in the world without someone to guide and support him. I believe that there are two things that need to happen at this point: 1) access additional support for your brother and 2) find  help and relief for you so you don’t completely burn out.

Does your brother have an official diagnosis? If not, I recommend that you take your brother in for psychological testing and evaluation. Depending on his diagnosis, he may be eligible for additional resources and care through your state, and may qualify for disability benefits. Please consider contacting NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) in North Carolina and inquire about advocacy and support services in your area, and contact your community social services agency here. Your brother may be eligible for some type of supervised housing situation, occupational therapy for life management skills, and other services. Putting some long-term help in place for your brother will hopefully alleviate some of your current burden and decrease your concerns about him if something should happen to you.

In the short run let’s get you some additional help. Can your father take shifts caring for your brother to give you a break on a regular basis? Are there any adult day care services in your area where you could know he was safe? There are resources available. Please reach out for support for both of you.

Take good care of you and yours!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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More