Survivor seeks closure.


Dear Stop It Now!,

I was molested in the 3rd grade by my distant cousin who used to come and play basketball with me. He touched me in my private areas and after a few times I never wanted to see him or be in contact with him. I never told my parents, but a few weeks ago my I informed my girlfriend. I just want closure. I am not mad, I've healed, but my girlfriend and I want closure with this!

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Dear Courageous Survivor,

I am so sorry to hear that you were abused as a child and I am so glad that you are reaching out for help. It’s great that you were able to tell your girlfriend about what happened, and that she’s able to be there as a support to you as you seek closure. Please know that there is help and support available, and that you are not alone – most survivors have been deeply impacted by their abuse and seek closure as they enter into adulthood.

Next Steps as a Youth
I’m wondering whether you are a youth or an adult. As a youth, you may have more limitations on the options you can pursue on your own, and reaching out to an adult is so important. If you don’t feel comfortable telling your parents what happened when you were younger, maybe you can reach out to another trusted adult – like a relative, school counselor, or teacher – for support. If you can’t think of an adult you’d be able to talk to, Your Life Your Voice (1.800.448.3000) is a 24/7 confidential youth hotline that can talk with you about what happened and help you find a safe adult to talk with about finding closure.

Different Paths to Closure
“Closure” can mean many things for many people, and every survivor’s healing journey is unique. So, I’m wondering what closure may mean for you and your girlfriend right now.

Professional Support
For some survivors, closure means finding professional support to address the impact of the abuse on your current thoughts, feelings, moods, and behaviors. You mention that you’ve healed, but I’m unsure whether you might also still benefit from that kind of support. If you are an adult, these Adult Survivor Resources and Support can help connect you with professionals experienced in working with adult survivors. They also include peer resources, where you can see how other survivors have addressed their abuse and be reminded that you are not alone in what you’re going through now.

Disclosing to Family
Closure may also mean talking to family about what happened. It may feel difficult to talk about this even now, and that’s okay. The same reasons why children don’t tell if they have been abused can also apply to adult survivors as well. If you feel ready to tell your family about what happened, it’s important to have supports – like your girlfriend or even a professional – who can help you practice what you’ll say and be present for you if you may need them there when you say it. Please remember that no matter the Possible Reactions Of Non-offending Parents And Caring Adults, your feelings and experiences are real and valid and deserve to be addressed.

Even if this is something you may already know, it can help to hear that what happened is not your fault. Children are naturally curious and don’t have the same understanding of sexual behavior as adults do. A child may not immediately recognize what’s happening as abuse and, even when they realize they’ve been harmed, may not speak up. It sounds like you were able to set boundaries once you felt uncomfortable, but this shouldn’t have to have been your responsibility.   

Seeking Justice
You may also be looking for closure by seeking justice for what happened to you. Maybe you want to file a report or press charges, or even just talk with your cousin about what he did to you and how it affected your life as a child and as an adult.

Even if this happened a long time ago, filing a report with authorities is still an option, especially if you have concerns about this adult around children now. SOL Reform and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) guide to the Laws In Your State can help you find out whether the statute of limitations has passed. However, some survivors choose to file even if the statute has passed. Your report could lend support to any others that have been made about your cousin before or in the future. This is especially important if you’re worried that your cousin may be at risk to harm another child. You can file with the local police, or with Child Protective Services (CPS). You can find your state's reporting information by looking in this Child Abuse/Neglect Reporting Information.

I’m so happy you contacted us, and want you to know that you are courageously taking steps to take control of your life – on your terms and by your definition. Help and understanding is available. Every adult who has experienced childhood sexual abuse has the right to support, healing and recovery. It is never too late for healing or closure, however you define those for yourself. 

We wish you the very best of luck on your healing journey.

Take care,
Stop It Now!

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Last edited on: November 13th, 2018