kblickster's picture

Peer to Peer Sexual Abuse

I have a 12 year old girl who got involved through a sport with an older girl. (14) This seemed completely innocent for about 6 months, then she completely changed. Sullen, on the computer and texting constantly. While cleaning her room one day I found knives in her room. I confronted her and she confessed that she is lesbian and that she and her friend were just playing around with the knives. While the news about being a lesbian was shocking, I was much more concerned about the knives. We contacted our pediatrician who suggested counseling. We did this as a family. In counseling, our daughter told the story of her relationship. It was quite disturbing and our counselor agreed that she was the victim of sexual and mental abuse. She is trying to help our daughter understand this, but I think she is just to young.

We stopped her from seeing her friend and continued counseling for a while. She now feels like we are punishing her because she is lesbian. We set some pretty strict rules and she feels we don't trust her. She doesn't want to go to counseling.

What would you do?

DonnaK's picture

Without the details of what the relationship was with this other girl before I say this. It is more common then most people think for teenage girls to experiment sexually with each other. Your daughter probably does not see herself as a victim because either she wasn't (as in she was a willing participant) or because she enjoyed a part of what was going on). I don't know where your family stands on the whole homosexual issue, but it is also possible she is homosexual and is dealing with the confusion, guilt, and shame that comes with that realization (especially in a family where it is not an acceptable way to be). It honestly sounds more like curiosity. What is your concern with the knives? do you think she was cutting? Teenagers do strange things, there may have been some perfectly harmless, even if a bit strange reason they had knives. My son had 6 knives in his closet... he uses my kitchen knives like they are scissors ... drives me nuts but it is not dangerous (he's 18 so he's safe to use a knife or scissors without supervision.

If it were my daughter, I would talk to her. Explain that experimentation is normal; but someone making her do something she does not want to do after she says no is WRONG. I would ask her if SHE felt she had been taken advantage of or abused and why she felt the way she does. I would give her all the power and control over the situation that I safely could, while guiding her to make good choices and stand up for herself. I would also ask her how she felt about her ex-friend, whether she still wants to be her friend and why. I would have a long discussion about self-respect and what that means to her and ways she can say no to people in situations in a clear, strong way and the responsibility that comes with not saying no.

I would have a completely different attitude if it was my 12 year old and 16 or 17 year old girl. But 12 and 14 are just not that far apart that the other girl should have bene able to completely overpower your daughter.

And if I thought my daugher was cutting, I would go to the end of the earth to try and find her the help she needed. I know it is heart-breaking and frustrating in families with kids who cut. Or if she is keeping a knife in her room because something happened and she is scared of this girl - then I'd go the legal route with a restraining or and possible pressing of charges. IF soemthing is going on to warrant that kind of fear.