Victim blamed herself, not her father

Victim blamed herself, not her father

Source: http://www.sltrib.com/2004/Jun/06132004/ut…utah/175003.asp

Barbara Feaster tells her story of being molested from the time she was a small child to age 16 by her father, hoping that others will speak up and end the cycle of abuse.

At 31, Barbara Feaster is one of many adult victims of child sexual abuse still trying to heal.
Her father began molesting her when she was a small child, and the abuse continued into her teen years.

Like many victims, Feaster initially blamed herself, convincing herself she had only been dreaming her father crept into her room to accost her.

“It was really important for me to believe my dad loved me and that I was just a bad girl,” she said. “If it was my fault, then I could do something to change it — I could be a good girl and change and then my dad wouldn’t have to hurt me anymore.”

Her mother looked the other way, and Feaster told no one.

At the age of 14, she decided to steal a padlock to lock herself in her bedroom at night. That kept her safe until she was 16, when one night she forgot the lock and woke up to find herself being violated again.

“I jumped up and went to the bathroom and once again tried to convince myself that it was a dream and berated myself for having such horrible sick dreams about my father,” she said.

Shortly after that incident, Feaster’s father confessed the abuse to their family bishop, who ordered him to go to the police. He pleaded guilty, went to jail for 30 days and was placed on probation and the sex offender registry for 12 years.

Although many would consider his sentence a mere slap on the wrist, Feaster has mixed feelings about it.

“I definitely think that 30 days in jail is nothing compared to what he did because he molested me hundreds of times,” Feaster said. “On the other side, there is this sense of loyalty and love you have for your parents. I know people who have recanted to save their parents from going to jail.”

When her father was released, Feaser’s mother told her — not her husband — to leave the home. In a foster care program, Feaster got counseling for the first time, an apartment of her own and help transitioning into a normal life.

Now Feaster has gathered a group of Utah women, uFOSTERsuccess, who have come forward to tell their stories in hopes of preventing child sexual abuse and promoting Utah’s foster care system.

Married with children of her own, Feaster says she speaks with her parents now. Her father has agreed not to be alone with children and answers any questions she has about what took place during her childhood.

“I felt like I hated them for a long time and was really, really mad at them,” she said. “Now it’s different because they allow the relationship to be on my terms.

” There is a natural longing for people to want to be connected to their parents, to want to love their parents and have a good relationship with their parents, and I want that like everybody else wants it.”

She tells her story in the hope that people will speak up about abuse to end its cycle. It also is part of her own healing process, which she says is ongoing.

“It’s not a cure type of recovery,” she said. “There are issues that will continue to come up your whole life, but if you work through them on a day-to-day basis you can be high-functioning and resilient.”

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