This is a guest post by my dad, Brett Rogers.
Three years ago this week, my daughter turned 16 and started dating what then quickly became her boyfriend. Soon after, she started displaying troubling signs of anxiety and depression. That anxiety and depression worsened and worsened. All of her friends, other than her boyfriend, disappeared. Life as we knew it was upended for our entire family. For a year, we lived in constant worry and fear as she sank lower and lower. We desperately clung to her, doing everything we could to keep her safe.
Then my daughter’s relationship with her boyfriend ended. And she found a strength she hadn’t had before. Almost overnight, she seemingly snapped back. The daily extreme anxiety and depression dissipated. The difference was night and day. We were shocked, amazed, and overjoyed. We somehow got our daughter back.
But then, over time, little by little, she started sharing bits and pieces of troubling experiences with us. Things she had a hard time talking about. One day she shared a podcast episode with me discussing sexual assault and rape myths. I spoke to her about it after listening. She broke down and cried. That was the day I officially learned what I had feared – my daughter had been involved in an abusive relationship. She had been mentally abused, sexually abused, and raped by her former boyfriend. She then, slowly and painfully, over about a one month period, wrote down her story in 18 pages. The night that I read her full account will haunt me forever.
Even though we got our daughter back, her journey from that point has not been easy. She has been traumatized. She has worked with her therapist and additional professionals to help her to process and to heal from her abuse. Swimming that ocean of recovery, staying above the surface to keep from slipping back under into despair, has been a constant and ongoing challenge.
But she is strong. She has taken a stand. She has spoken up. She will not give in to fear or doubt or intimidation. She has been an inspiring example to me as she has educated herself, developed a platform, and become an advocate and a voice. I am so proud of her.
Today I would like to share with you some of our family’s part of the story. What we have experienced with our daughter the past few years has obviously not been easy. My wife, Janean, and I will never be the same. It has affected our entire family.
Whytli asked me to answer some questions and record an episode for her podcast. It turns out that I had a lot to say. Enough that she had to split it into two episodes. If you are interested in learning more about what it was like for us as we have navigated these difficult times, please listen.
- Part 1: Parenting a Child Through Anxiety, Depression, and Sexual Abuse with Brett Rogers
- Part 2: Parenting a Child Through Anxiety, Depression, and Sexual Abuse with Brett Rogers
To hear more about Whytli’s story: