Mother of sex abuse victim to launch new charity to help people through healing process
- Credit: PA
A woman whose child was sexually abused by a family member is setting up a charity to help victims and their mothers through the healing process.
Norfolk MOSAIC (Mothers of Sexually Abused Infants and Children) is the idea of a Norwich mother who has decided to speak out about her family's own experience so that other mothers, whose children have suffered at the hands of a sexual predator, know they don't have to deal with the devastating situation alone.
The aim is to help the mother help the child, because if the mother is suffering and can't respond correctly she can't help the child because the mother's own grief, guilt and anxiety will inadvertently be directed at the child.
The nightmare for the city mother of discovering a trusted family member had sexually abused one of her children only came to light two years ago.
The abuse had taken place 25 years earlier when the child was not quite three. Over the years the child refused to have anything to do with the person which was confusing as this was a close family member who would visit the family home.
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"My child had in a very guarded fashion tried to talk to me about it over a number of years," the woman recalled, "but held back from giving me any specific information.
"Through my ignorance and naivety I didn't see the signs. Afterwards you want to hit your head on the wall, asking yourself 'why didn't I see'."
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Looking back there were things she can now identify as the child was growing up that would have given her the clues all was not well. As a toddler there was clingy and regressive behaviour.
"Later there were eating disorders, bulimia, anorexia, refusing to go to school, aggression, non-communication and depression.
"I thought this was just horrible teenage behaviour," she admitted. "It was one thing after another, sometimes they overlapped but it was a life of confusion."
But when the sexual abuse was finally revealed it was a total shock.
"I can't describe the anger that is in me even now," she confessed. "Towards my child I feel the most enormous sadness, compassion regret, horrible guilt and shame. Shame because as the mother I am supposed to be the protector at all times and I didn't do my job. Guilt because it happened."
More poignantly it is the loss of trust between mother and child as well as the loss of childhood innocence that has deeply affected this mother.
"I found a quote the other day from a mother whose child had also been sexually abused: 'I have to live with the knowledge that my child will never fully trust me again' and that's how I feel."
When up and running the charity will initially support mothers, because statistically more non-offending mothers are affected than fathers, but the plan for the future is to include fathers.
Eventually there will be a listening service with trained listeners who are contactable through the MOSAIC website. There will also be a provision for a counsellor to come and talk to mothers on a one-to-one basis, on neutral ground, hopefully later with group interactions supporting each other.
"Currently there is nothing here in this area to help non-offending mothers of abused children to communicate with their children in an appropriate way to help with the healing process. Something I wasn't able to do until now."
"What I find so wonderful is that my child will now tell me if they are struggling, if they are having a bad time or tell me when there are flash backs, which happens regularly. This will never go away but healing is possible."
A concert is being held on Sunday September 8, 6-7.15pm at the Octagon Chapel in Colegate, Norwich, to raise funds to help set up Norfolk Mosaic.
Tickets are £10 on the door or from St George's Music Shop, 17-19 St. Georges Street and from the website NorfolkMOSAIC.com.