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What would you tell her?

917 Views 13 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  GuildJenn
When I was 13 I was kidnapped, raped, and shot. I don't really enjoy discussing it in person (don't know why - but am ok with it OL). I especially do not like discussing it with neices and nephews etc. But my daughter - 6 - is starting to ask questions.

Two occasions:
1) my neice - 8 - knows that I was shot with a gun. She told my daughter that is what the scar is on my forehead. My daughter asked me if it was true. I had no idea what to say and just told her we would discuss it later.

2) Dh took her to the movie store tonight and she ran out of the store while he was still in line. He told her "don't do that - someone can steal you" (ok - not the best but he tried!). She said "no you can't - people can't be stolen" (we HAVE talked about strangers and stuff but obviously I'm not too good at it). He said - "yes you can, mommy was". And she just started asking me a million questions. Why were you in the car by yourself, why did mimi leave you in the car, why didn't you run away (see - all things we've talked about!), why are you alive if he shot you, how did they find you etc. She just kept going on and on.

I tried to be as truthful yet kid friendly as possible. But I also don't want her to be angry at my mom for leaving me in the car - that will open very raw wounds for my mom. I also dont want her to think that guns aren't all that dangerous since I was shot in the head and survived. But I don't want to lie - lieing isn't good right? But I think its time that I told her something.

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I haven't been in any situation nearly as serious as yours. . so I hope you also get responses from those who have as I think their advice would be more valuable. . .

. . . but for what it's worth:

I would answer all of her questions fully truthfully, while maintaining the "kid friendly" approach you mention (ie. As Einstein said, "Make it as simple as you can, but not simpler") I think you have several important messages for your daughter:
  • bad things may happen, and as parents you work hard to keep her safe
  • luck, resourcefulness, the help of others (etc, tailor to your own story) helped you get through that terrible experience
  • people can survive great adversity
It's too late to try to hide the whole situation from her in an effort to save her innocence. I remember all kinds of moments, interactions, responses to things that happened when I was 6. Kids are resilient and seem to have an internal barometer about when they've asked enough questions to satisfy their curiousity yet not scare themselves ferociously.

Tough, tough situation. Best wishes. . .
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I would tell her in such a way that it is third person retelling.

Like, set the 13 yo girl in the car, call her "she," or your first name of youth, etc., so your 6 yo can learn of this terrible attack on her Mommy with some separation, some distance, which describing her in third person symbolically does. Kids love symbology.

My 8 yo still asks, "Was I there?" when I mention something from events of 20years and more ago--she may have a similar time-warp thing. All of life is in terms of them and when they arrived and that's when life sprang into being. Anyway, tell the things you have to like it's happening in a picture book, a story about someone else, explaining that you were a different person then, it was "the olden days," where parents left their kids in the wagon and horses hitched to the hitchin pole. That way, I think she can "look at it" from above, as you describe the situation in "from above" terminology. Even if she is very precocious, I would exclusively tell this story in terms of it happened to a different me, "like pooping your diaper happened to a different you that YOU can hardly remember now, huh, sweetie?"

I once had to have a talk about abortions with my dd. Her school decided without consulting me that it was a good thing to discuss. I do not know in what context or with what "religious" or "political" agendas fueling it, but, anyway, it happened and so we were talking.

I was honest, this is what it is... "WHAT? Killing a baby?" (Oh, man, what was I thinking? I should have said, abortion is like liquor: it's adult stuff.) But, it gets worse. She asked me directly if I'd had one (Did that Public school have an agenda? A big brother chip planted right in my child?), and I said, well, yes, a long time ago... (Heavy vibes coming from the back seat, silence, I turn around--the eyes are reddening rapidly, welling up, "I could have had a big brother or sister!!!" I can't remember--I choose not to remember the feeling of anvils being piled onto my heart, having just shattered the heart of this little child.

Just thinking of protecting her from terrible fear of her mommy sitting in front of her being hurt and dragged away FROM HER. If it were me, I would probably tell her that NOBODY knows except you exactly what went on and how you felt about it during your experience, but one day when she's grown up, you will tell JUST her. And in the meantime, just know that somehow you were protected and came home safe and sound. I guess because God/Goddess knew I had to be your mother.

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wow, that's a toughy. i mean at some point we probably all might get asked some details of our past that we're not sure how to reveal, even if it's just, "did you ever drink or do drugs?" or "did you and daddy have to do that to have a baby?"

i like manitoba mom's advice and viewfinder's, too, about making it seem like the olden days.

do you mind telling a little bit more about it? you were in the car waiting for your mom? car doors were unlocked i guess?

i'd try to be reassuring, that this happened a long time ago (although to us and, especially you, it might not seem so long ago).

also, reassure her that most people are nice and want to look out for kids and each other and that this was sort of a freak incident. (how are you with trusting the general public now?)

as for details, i'd try to answer her questions fully, but not too detailed. "why were you in the car by yourself?" "well, it was a long time ago and it was a common thing to do, plus i was a bigger kid than you are." same kind of thing for the other questions.

i think a lot of reassurance is in order, both that you're okay and that she will be okay and that most other people are okay, but we take precautions like staying with daddy in the video store to make sure that we're safe from bad things like that and from cars, getting lost, etc.

hth and
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I can't even imagine what you must be going through, it must be really hard.

What if you answer her questions, but don't go into detail. Like if she asks, "Why were you in the car." Answer her truthfully like the pp suggested, "it was a different time, and I was older." But don't continue to say, for example, "and the doors weren't locked, and my mom was gone for a really long time, etc.."

That way she has the information she needs, and doesn't feel like you're hiding anything. Also, that way the information you give her will most likely be on a level that she can handle, and she will feel comfortable coming to you later when she's ready for more detail/information.

I do encourage you to tell her, and to let her ask questions. My dad had this policy of when I reached a certain age, he'd sit me down and tell me a family secret. Totally sucked. Because I felt like things were hidden, and didn't feel like I had time to absorb the information or formulate questions, and when I finally did, it felt like it was too late to ask those questions. I was older than your daughter, maybe 16 and then 18, when he decided to reveal these things.
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I was attacked and beaten by a rapist when I was 11. He punched me in the face and broke my jaw, and it has never been quite right since. I've got a pretty fierce case of TMJ.

But that was nothing compared to how shattered was my psyche. I think about my life in terms of 'before' and 'after'. Everything was changed forever and my life was seriously derailed for a very, very long time.

I haven't really thought about talking about that with dd, although I suppose I will at some point. Thankfully, although I was battered I wasn't shot or seriously injured (
poor, sweet little girl - I'm so sorry that happened to you
: ). I doubt the subject will come up for her unless I raise it, but I haven't really thought about how to bring it up with her.
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sorry that happened t you thankfully you lived to spread the word kids are not safe is what i would say ..............................

i want to talk to you what happened when i was younger....................back when i was little everyone thought it was safe to leave kids alone even tho i was big i was 13 but we know now it is not safe just like they didnt use carseats now we know it is safer we learn things by making mistakes when i was 13 i was kidnapped i was..................... omot the rape.... then he shot me right here but mommy was lucky it didnt kill me people die from guns(dont want her to think u wont die if shot you never know) then i was left..... i was found by...... add whatever else you feel needed
I would give her the basics and tell her it is a hard memeopy and you like to share good memeorys

"Jenny when momma was in in junior high i was at the park and a strage man grabed me, he was too strong for me to fight, and he took me away from my family. while i was with him i was hurt pretty bad and very sad and sacred. I was found / saved /resucued by..... and XYZ happend to the bad man who hurt me [if this applies}. Momma dosn't like to remember bad things, i like to remember good things. But I want you to remember to always be careful so you don't getr hurt. Remeber this is a praivate thing for momma and we don't talk about it with others, but dad and I will answer as many of your questions as we can"

if you can give her clouser on what happen to that bad man, even if his age alone would not have him dead, that will help her not fear he will come back for you or come get her.

I think you can generalize "hurt" for the shooting and the rape, and everything. When she is older, maybe a teen, the rape might be something to talk to her about -- espcailly int eh face of sexual pressure and so n -- but for now "mooma was hurt" is enough.

I knwo that talking to newphews and neices i use a gernic "someone could hurt you, someone got hurt" rather thant he nitty gitty of sexual molastation, rape and so on...... i feel that till they are older and have a better graps of sexual things in gneral they don't have a fram of refrence and also you do not want to add neg sexual iseda befoe they have healthy ones.

I am sooooooo sorry you went though that....and i can see how it would be very very diffuclt to talk about.

I am not suggesting making it dinner conservation, but I think it might be good for her to know.

1. it is a important thing in your past, and
2. it is a real life learning experence and maybe
most importnat
3. you want her to have the real facts, as she can handle, from you -- not a made up story from her own mind, or someone else.............
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Thanks for the advice...there are some good lines here that I might just have to take word for word. Unfortunately - I made a hugh booboo tonight. I hope it isn't irrepairable. She asked me "why didn't you just run away?" (because we always talk about running away from strangers or things like that right?)....ugh....I said "we aren't talking about that right now".....I could bury my head in shame. Great way to start an open and trusting relationship!!! (granted we were in line for a movie).

For those that asked. I was 13, first day of 8th grade. My mom picked me up from a friends house after school, I had on these horrendous saddeloxfords - we were broke so they weren't even the comfortable ones - like wearing boxes on your feet. My mom stopped for gas - busy corner and 5 o'clock traffic. She pumped - usually I paid - but I asked her if I could stay in the car this time because I didn't want to put my shoes back on. No problem. I closed my eyes to listen to the radio and a man jumped in the passenger seat with a gun. Drove off - police were right behind (there was a 2 min. response time). Luckily - it was heavy traffic. At one point an officer got out of the car and was at the window but I didn't find that out till later. They couldn't shoot though because I was in the car. Kidnapper swerved through traffic, got on the interstate, went over the median and popped a tire. Turned off onto a dead end lane, tried to repair the tire. Couldn't, took me into the abandoned field next door, raped me on top of some old cardboard. Told me to close my eyes and shot me between them. Bullet came out the back of my neck. I was only missing for 2 hours - but none the less - along with the normal trauma that goes with something like that - I have no idea how NOT to be a paranoid mom.

Anyway - probably more into than you requested!

She did ask me why mimi didn't just pay for the gas with a credit card (which is what I do)!!! How observant. At least my family knows not to disuss anything with her without talking to me first so I may have some time to get my act together. I did leave out the rape part - just told her he "did some bad things and hurt mommy". My mom is reassurig and told her that "these things don't happen that often".

I love my little girl - I just can't stand the million questions. She is one of those "but why??" kind of kids.
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Oh, I am so very, very sorry. You have come such a long way.

I think it's perfectly reasonable for you to say that this isn't a good time to talk about it right now (in line for a movie - or even at home if you're not ready). Tell her that you'll talk about it with her later. Just stick to the "later" part and that is part of the basis of an honest relationship.

And, if she asks questions you can't handle or don't have a good answer to, I do think it's reasonable to say that you'll talk about it later. Or, even when she's older. "That's a tough question. Let me think about it and get back to you," is a perfectly good answer. It's honest and it lets you think about it.

Best wishes to you as you handle this challenge.
She asked me "why didn't you just run away?" (because we always talk about running away from strangers or things like that right?)....ugh....I said "we aren't talking about that right now".....I could bury my head in shame. Great way to start an open and trusting relationship!!! (granted we were in line for a movie).
I think it is OK..... you can go to her and say "hey remember when we were in line for the movies and i told you i didn't want to talk about X....well let's talk now. Some things are private, and momma doesn't want to talk about them in public or with a lot of differnt people. now we are alone at home, and we can talk about that if you still want to. I want you to know we can talk about it, just not all the time and not everywhere"

It is a good learning expereince for her that some thing are not movie line dicsussion!!! The line of communication can still be opne.

why are all BUT WHY kids...and it shows she is really processing what you tell her.

It is always ok to say

Momma doesn't want to talk about it now, it is not a good memory


that doesn't matter now


to glass over thing "momma got hurt"

and you can always say

I was not a grown up -- i don't really know.


some people do mean thing / bad thing / and no one knows why -- that is why momma and daddy are so careful with you and why you have to be careful too.

Again I am so sorry you went though that, but it sounds like you are dealing with it well and addressing it well with her.

one other thing to remember -- when this is no longer a new topice for her, it will fade for her....

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sara. i think that another poster who mentioned that your dd1 'can ask mommy and daddy anything about it and we'll try to answer' touched on an important idea. i know it's got to be hard to talk about this awful thing, so if you and your dh could have a talk about it and make sure your on the same page i think it would be fine to let your dd know that daddy is there to answer questions, too. i agree that you want to be there for her and to try to answer as many questions as you can, but it might help to have somebody else to catch a few, too.

i agree with the other posters, that the ball is in your court now and you just have to say, "remember when we were in line at the movies and you asked...?" that's totally fine to put her off. you might say something like, "it's not a happy memory for me and sometimes it's hard to talk about and remember those bad things, but i do want you to know that you can ask me or daddy anything about it and we'll do our best to answer. it's okay to talk about".

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Wow. I'm so sorry that happened to you. It sounds like you're doing an amazing job of trying to communicate constructively with your daughter about it, and not let it color all your parenting - I think I would probably want to keep my daughter in a castle with a moat after having had an experience like that.

Around the "why didn't you just run away" point: my daughter is like this too. Whenever she hears a bit about something bad in the news and wants to discuss it, she has lots of "why's" and they often centre on what her plan would be if that ever happened to her. "If a bad man got me, I would run away fast and kick him and then he would be in jail and be eaten by sharks." She saw a big boy trying to hit a pigeon with a rock the other day and asked why a lot, then said "If I was a pigeon and a boy tried to hit me with a rock, I'd fly really fast and poke him in the face like this with my beak, then I'd stick out my tongue at him like this."
So some of her questions may be a way of thinking through the situation and casting herself as a resourceful person - that's not a bad thing.

In answer to the running away question, if you return to it, I'd just say "Running away is a good thing to do, when you can. Good thinking! But when it happened to me, we were in a car and it was going fast. The man had a gun and it was very scary. There was no way to run away."

If the police did find you, albeit too late after the attack, I would emphasize a bit that the police were chasing the man, and fortunately they found you and took you to the hospital. Emphasizing the presence of helpers may reassure her.
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I think everything you said is perfectly fine. I agree with people to tell it in as distant, brief, and kid-friendly a way as possible, and then do the same with the questions.

I think it may actually help that she is young - she'll just grow up with the information and not get blindsided with it later. This is a terrible chapter of your past, but she lives with you every day and you are there and okay and warm and loving and so on. She sees that too.

It's okay to be paranoid; you and your husband will work it out in the best interests of your daughter as you go along.
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