Ask Kari: How can I cope with encountering my childhood abuser?

Dear Kari,

I was sexually abused by my uncle when I was a child. The abuse occurred over two years, from when I was 5-7 years old. I did not tell my parents about it until I was older. Since he lived in another state by then, nothing was done. Now I am planning on going to a family wedding and he will most likely be there. I don’t know what to do, should I go? What if he comes near me and wants to talk?

Scared and Anxious

Dear Scared and Anxious,

First, I want to tell you that I am sorry that you had to endure two years of abuse by your uncle. I hope you know that he holds sole responsibility for the trauma and harm that he caused to you. I am also sorry that no adult or authority supported you earlier with education around the previous options you should have had, such as notification to authorities (if you choose to do so) and counseling support. What you have been through is one of the most harmful traumas that can happened to a human being, therefore I highly recommended that you seek out counseling support at this time prior to attending the wedding. Even if you are only able to attend a few counseling sessions, a good therapist can help support you in building out coping skills and boundaries prior to a potential encounter with your uncle/the perpetrator of your abuse. I sincerely wish you comfort and peace in your journey of recovery.


As published in the May 2018 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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