I had given a talk and when I had finished, a person came up to me to talk. Her young adolescent daughter had recently been raped by a 35-year-old male. I won't use the word "man". Her daughter had made some poor choices that put herself in a risky situation. The mother wanted to know if she could have done anything differently in how she handled it after her daughter told her what had happened. This is how she handled it:
1- She calmly consoled her daughter, empathized with her and asked the daughter if she would go to the hospital to get checked. The daughter said yes.
2- While at the hospital she asked her daughter if she would make a police report. The daughter said yes.
3- She informed her husband at the hospital. He responded the same; with love, concern, and empathy.
4- She allowed her daughter to go through all the range of emotions that one goes through with grief; denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
5- She got counseling for her daughter, counseling for her and her husband, and family counseling for all three. Most importantly three separate counselors were used. The critical part being that the daughter had her own counselor that would keep her sessions private. This way the daughter didn't have to worry about her sessions being disclosed to her parents if they were seeing the same counselor.
6- Even though the daughter had made bad choices that resulted in the rape happening, the mom never judged her daughter, screamed at her, or scolded her in any way. She knew her daughter was already doing that to herself.
Her process of handling this nightmare could be considered "textbook". The critical part was not "reacting" but "acting". She never made her daughter feel nothing but loved. Her daughter can feel comfortable in coming to her mom in the future and sharing life's mistakes with her. Had she gotten mad and yelled at and scolded her daughter, the young lady may not feel comfortable in sharing any other mistakes that she may have made in the past, or may make in the future.
Our children will make mistakes as we have. It's part of learning and maturing. Our minds aren't fully developed in critical decision making until our early twenties. Having children feel comfortable that they can share "anything" with their parents is a necessary part of a parent/child relationship.
Now, did this mom want to scream and yell? Of course! How did she handle that? She got in the car, went for a drive and screamed and yelled to high heaven! Then she would come home and calmly have a conversation with her daughter. By having a relationship with her daughter where her daughter could always feel safe in sharing mistakes and tragedies, her daughter didn't have to bear the horror of her rape in silence.