I live with my mother and stepfather. Eight months ago I began taking inappropriate pictures of myself and sending them to my stepfather’s two brothers. Someone saw the photos on their mobile phones and told my parents about them. It’s not the first time that I’ve done something like this. I was raped by my father from age six until nine. I am very sorry, and would like to know what I can do to gain their trust and stop doing stupid stuff…. I am desperate!

Dear Friend,

We are so sorry to hear about what your father did to you! He betrayed you not only physically, but also emotionally. We hope that you have had the opportunity to deal with the damage through a support group or private counseling. If not, it is very important that you seek that kind of help. You cannot expect to be able to think about sexual relationships in a healthy way until you have dealt with what happened to you.

Your innocence was stolen from you. It is very possible that your negative behaviors have everything to do with the sexual confusion that began when you were six years old. This is not an excuse, but it is an explanation for why you admit to having done a lot of stupid stuff. It also explains why you have had a difficult time making good choices.

We understand that you are desperate to gain the trust of your mother and stepfather. Although you don’t say so, it is very likely that they have disciplined you in some way that is very unpleasant, and that you are anxious for that discipline to be completed. So when you say that you want them to trust you again, what you probably mean to say is that you want to get your freedom and privileges back.

The problem is that your parents are the only ones who are protecting you from yourself. On your own, you know that you don’t make good choices. Although you want your freedom back, your parents may be all that is keeping you from making choices that have more dangerous consequences. The only way you can gain their trust is by accepting that you need their protection. You must have a good attitude about whatever consequences and discipline they have set for you, no matter how long it lasts.

Often people who have been betrayed or treated badly by their birth fathers think of their Heavenly Father in the same negative way. But your Heavenly Father will never betray you as your birth father did. God loves you very much, and grieves for what was done to you. He wants to help you get through all your difficulties. We recommend that you ask God for His forgiveness, and then find a church of loving people where there is a support group for victims of sexual abuse.

We wish you the best,