He’s back and I don’t know what to do (TW: sexual abuse?)

So when I was a kid, there was this other kid who went to my church. He’s the stepbrother of my brother’s friend. I was constantly bullied by him all throughout the years he was at our church. When we first met, my brother and I would get invited to go to play at his house. One time, while riding to his house, I sat in the middle seat between him and my brother. And he started putting his arm around my shoulders and proceeded (to put it politely) to invade my no no square.
We both were pretty young at the time. I was only 9, and he’s around 2 years older if that. So it didn’t hit me what happened and how bad it actually was until 10 years later when I drove past his old house. And for the past 3 or 4 years, I’ve questioned if it actually happened because I almost forgot about it. The last time I spoke with my old therapist, she did mention it’s a common trauma response to forget the event and encouraged me to bring it up when I’m back in therapy. I plan on doing so when I get back in (which is a whole other story).
Here’s the problem: my parents don’t know. And this “kid” is now and adult that my dad is friends with and trying to mentor. He just recently moved back into the area and has been going through some issues. And my dad, who is a pastor, wants to help him out. But I’m not comfortable at all with it. Last night my dad was meeting with him in his office across the street from my house, and I was up half the night because I didn’t feel safe knowing he was across the street. I want my parents to know why I’m not ok around him, but I don’t think I’ll be taken serious if I do. And if they do believe me, it could cause a massive falling out with this guys family and ours. I’m close with te family and his younger half brother is like a little brother to me. I don’t want to cause any changes there. I just want this guy to leave until I can heal from what happened.


Oh friend my heart aches for you. I am so sorry that you are going through this and that an experience you thought you had left in the past and tried to push away is being brought back up. It is painful enough that you have to see this man but I imagine it feel like salt in the wound to know that your dad is trying to mentor him. Man, I have anxiety even thinking about it so I can’t imagine how you feel.

It is totally normal to suppress traumatic memories and it’s important to make sure you are in a safe and supportive space before you try to bring these memories back to the surface.

This is a tricky situation, especially because it seems like both outcomes of telling your parents lead to pain for you. It might be helpful to think about what your ideal scenario is and if there is anyway you can communicate that to your parents. Letting them know what happened and then asking for what you need to come from it. If this is the route you go it’s important to make sure your parents are safe spaces for you to share. Do they normally respond with love? Have they been supportive when you’ve shared things with them in the past?

Those are a few things to think about. I want you to know that this isn’t your fault and you’ve done nothing wrong. You didn’t deserve for this to happen to you and I’m so sorry that you are experiencing this pain now. I’m sending love to you. You’re not alone friend and you are so brave for sharing here.

Sending love,



Yeah it really sucks. I think part of the reason it’s bothered me more now and not when I first figured out what happened a few years ago is because I wasn’t seeing him. I know the best option would be to go see a therapist and to steer clear of him for a little bit. However, my parents are against therapy. I’ve asked for help in the past with different things and have gotten shut down. There was even one point my dad was like, I’m your therapist now. I honestly don’t trust them with a lot of stuff just from past and current behaviors. I’m waiting to get a job and move out of their house to get counseling so that I can safely get help.
There’s also another aspect where I don’t know what will happen if this guy starts showing up to church regularly. I’ve had a few close calls the past few months where he shows up at the end and I left early, but I can’t leave early all the time. And because of my dad being the pastor, I can’t just stop showing up either. I do so much at the church that I have to have thought out plans made weeks in advanced to miss church. My dad’s also fully convinced that if I skipped out on church, he could be fired. But if this guy shows up, I don’t think I can stay around and be ok.


Oh wow friend I am so sorry that every time you have advocated for yourself and for what you need you have not found support. It is so brave to recognize you need therapy and so frustrating to have your parents, who are supposed to support you and give you resources, have shut you down. I hope that you can find a way to get the services that will help you soon. In the meantime I encourage you to join our discord : https://discord.gg/x8JttamE3W you can meet people in our community there and receive support.

It sounds like there is a lot of fear and anxiety around if you see him and not a lot about that possibility that you can control. I’ve had to be in the same room as my abuser before and it was very overwhelming. Something that helped me was having a plan. So for me that looked like leaving the space if possible. If I couldn’t leave I would try to tell a friend that was near me what was going on. If I couldn’t talk to someone who was near me about it I would call a trusted friend. I would ask them to stay with me and remind me that I was going to be okay. This really helped me feel more in control knowing that I had support. I also practiced breathing skills and repeated positive phrases to myself. “I am safe.” “This person cannot hurt me right now” things like that.

I know it is not ideal and I hope that you will never have to be in the same space as this person again. Sending love,



Thanks so much for the love and support! I found out a little bit of info that kinda helps explain what happened the other day.
So he didn’t show up at any time to the last church service. Which usually happens after my dad talks to him. So that’s a good sign I think. I learned a little bit more on why he randomly showed up the other day. To not go into too big of detail, there’s a situation where I may not even have the chance of seeing him for a while. While that would be to my benefit, it would not be good for the family. I don’t wish any ill on the family either, so I’m torn on how to feel there.
But, if this situation doesn’t happen, then there’s a chance he’ll be in town and around more. The only place I would have trouble leaving would be if he shows up at church, which so far has been pretty rare. I think I’ll wait and see if he shows up again in the next few weeks. He already was a pretty bad childhood bully, so I think my parents would understand if I said I don’t feel safe with him. And I have friends who know the situation and I can text. If he suddenly shows up more and more often, then I’ll think about how to tell my parents. But I think that conversation needs to wait until I can get into therapy, and that’ll have to happen when I officially move out (which hopefully is soon). It looks like this was just a random visit and that there’s no interest in him showing up on a regular basis.
I still don’t know 100% how to feel though. I keep hearing he’s a decent guy, and I know we were children when he did that to me. But that doesn’t really help with actually processing what happened. I think that’s moreso why I get anxious around him. Like I don’t know how to act around him because I now know he did something really really bad to me.


I think it would be a good idea to address the situation now while things are calm. If he comes back and gets involved in your environment again, it would be a lot more difficult to just get rid of his presence.

I have a suggestion on how to break it to them, but this is just how I would handle talking to my parents about something really heavy. I don’t know the right or wrong way to tell them such bad news, but if it were me I’d try to sit down with my most reasonable parent and try to talk. One parent at a time. If one is less sympathetic and harder to deal with, then start with the other one. Start with something soft like “Hey, I need to talk to you” and then work your way up. Ask what your parent thinks of this guy and, if the response is affectionate, say that you don’t quite feel that way. When they ask why, you tell the story. Try to make them understand. If the first parent understands, maybe they’ll help with talking to the second parent.

Abuse is abuse is abuse. There is no “just get over it” to trauma, it sticks with you. It’s hard to deal with alone. Reaching out to your loved ones and opening up is the first step to building a nice foundation of support. They can’t help if they don’t know anything.

I wish you the best with this, and just remember we’re all here for you if you need us!

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