I agree that counseling and related services are necessary, but there are way to few safe refuges available to enable victims of abuse to escape from it.
We need a LOT more safe shelters. All of the counseling in the world will not affect a person that does not have a safe place to go.
We need to convince State Legislators to allow the victims of abuse to NOT have to provide a physical address to counsel for the abuser. In many cases, the abusers lawyer passes on the address where the victim is living, thereby making them (and others) vulnerable. That has to stop.
Children that witness abuse of a parent MUST be protected. Until and unless the perp has been cleared by competent authorities (and not the rubber stamp that all too many abusers counseling programs really are), they should not be allowed any contact with their children.
Any parent that is twice convicted of abusing a child in their custody or control, should automatically lose ALL parental rights permanently. NO EXCEPTIONS. If a parent can do that a 2nd time, after being convicted, no amount of treatment is going to make a significant difference. It is MUCH better to remove the child from that cycle, and get them with parents that WILL love and nurture them.
I grew up being abused in just about every way that a child can possibly be abused. I was beaten, burned, sexually molested (by my mother and several step-fathers), psychologically abused for my entire life till I ran away and joined the Army, starved (we had only dry dog food to eat for weeks at a time), my feet are permanently deformed because i had to wear shoes that were way too small, and I could go on and on.
Counseling is UTTERLY useless for the victim(s), until they truly believe that they are safe. No amount of caring, no services offered, will really matter until that person can come to believe that they really and truly are safe from the person (or people) that has been abusing them. Many of them have been through situations where the perp promises never to do it again, even promising the courts and probation officers that they won't do it again, or where the authorities have told them they are safe, but they find that the reign of terror almost always comes back.
The victim believes, deep in their soul, that they will NEVER be safe, no matter what. Telling them that they are won't really penetrate, it takes time, and physical distance, before this can sink in.
I can give you an example of that from my own life. I was 16 when I enlisted in the Army. The recruiter KNEW I was only 16, and my mother knew it too, when she signed the papers saying I was actually 17. She couldn't get at me in the Army, but the fear was there that when I refused to give her an allotment for most of my pay (which was $78.00 per month BEFORE income taxes and Social Security), she might inform the Army that I was under age. If she did, I would be kicked out, and she would have control of me again.
It was ONLY when I had my 17th birthday, and I turned myself in (knowing that they would keep me), that I finally felt truly safe. I underwent years of counseling, to rid myself of the demons from that abuse. Forgiveness took a LOT longer, that only happened in the past 5 years (I am 68 now).
So yes Father, your counseling program is important. But, don't be upset if it doesn't really "take" in the beginning, because a lot of the victims simply are not ready for it for quite some time. They will go through the motions, but it won't really penetrate to where it makes real changes, until that person KNOWS that they are permanently safe from the person that had been abusing them.
The Old Medic
Retired Clinical Psychologist and Rehabilitation Counselor
Former Sergeant First Class, U.S. Army (1959-1969)