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I need help making a big decision...

Hi,

Today I came out and told the head of my year at college about my past experiences with sexual abuse from my father. She said that there's a big chance that the situation could be taken a step further leading to prosecution. I don't know what to do. I've never been involved in anything like this before. I'm scared something might happen.

I'm also afraid to tell my mama or my brother about it. I have no idea about how they would react or what they might say about it... Should I be brutally honest with them? Should I keep it brief? I have no idea.

I'm afraid of the scenario where the police have to get involved and suddenly take my dad away. I couldn't care less if he went to prison, but how would mama and my brother feel?? Would they tell me I'm lying?? I'm guessing it may not even be my decision if the police get involved, what I'm trying to decide about is what or whether I should tell my other family members...

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Sam

Hi there,

Telling someone about past abuse is a very brave thing to do and is a huge step to take. It can often create mixed emotions for you which it's important to get support for. Telling family members about what's happened is hard but it may mean you feel better once it's off your shoulders. What happened isn't your fault and talking about it doesn't change that.

Well done for taking the first step and telling your teacher about the abuse your father put you through. That step is often a difficult one and you did the right thing to take it. One of the many feelings that you may have is that of being out of control of what happens next. To cope with that feeling it can help to carry on talking about what's happening with the person you told, so they're aware of how you feel.

One of the biggest worries for people who talk about past abuse from a family member is how this news will affect everyone else. It's natural to think about this, but it's very important to understand that talking about the abuse your father put you through does not make it your fault if your family are upset. It's likely they will be shocked and upset - but that doesn't mean they feel this way about you. Your father is the one who caused this, not you.

Not all families react well to this kind of news and it can be difficult for them to take it in so suddenly. If an abuser has hidden their actions well, other people might react by saying that it's not true. This is sometimes a way people come to terms with unexpected news like this and is called denial. Denial is the first of many steps that can eventually lead to someone coming to terms with what's happened. It would always be wrong of your family to not believe you. But even if they say they don't at first, it doesn't mean they always will.

It's important to make sure you're still getting some help. If you can't always speak to your head of year or someone close to you, then our counsellors are standing by and waiting to hear from anyone who needs immediate support.

I hope this helps, thanks for your letter.

Sam

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