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My husband has molested our daughter for years. What should I do now?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Family, Forbidden love, Marriage problems<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (30 December 2007) 34 Answers - (Newest, 28 December 2010)
A female United Kingdom, anonymous writes:

I would like your opinion on this serious issue.

I was in bed with my husband over 20 years ago when my daughter, then aged about 2, climbed into be between us. After some time, I noticed my husband was getting aroused and I thought he was masturbating. I lay rigid, not daring at first to explore, and to my horror, he did have his hand between my daughter's legs. I lay frozen for a couple of seconds in disbelief then grabbed her away, he seemed unconcerned and said it had been a mistake and he thought it was me. I KNOW this sounds stupid now, but at the time I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, and I know some of you out there will think there is no question that he could have 'made a mistake'. Anyway, I wanted to believe him, and although it ruined any feelings I had for him, as there was always that niggle of doubt, but then as time went on, it just faded more and more and I began to feel guilty because how could I have suspected any man would do that to his daughter knowingly, so I MUST have half dreamed it, or somehow got it wrong.

Now fast forward to the present. That daughter has been self-abusing, cutting her arms, attempted suicide, but there was never a hint of any abuse. She has had chronic fatigue since age 16 and developed depression as a result, disabling her from a normal life. Anyway, it turns out her father has been 'touching' her for years, but she cannot tell me at what age she was when he stopped, except she remembers being in school uniform.

The action from here may seem clear, but it isn't, because I now realise that although this admission is new and horrific to me, to her, he has been the only father she has known and she is concerned for his wellbeing. She believes the wiring in his head is wrong, and he needs help. Since my daughter feels she cannot report him for this now years have passed since his abuse stopped, I have no right to take it out of her hands, nor can I pretend nothing has happened.

I must say, that there will be many judgmental people out there who would hang him off the nearest tree if possible, but realistically, now this has happened in my family, there are so many other complications that affect so many other family members. If she wants to keep him in her life, all be it at a distance (we have now split up), what can I do?

View related questions: split up

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A female reader, sdwooten United States +, writes (28 December 2010):

I can only answer this question by telling my own experience. I found out January 2010 that my husband of 16 years molested my daughter...his own flesh and blood. She was scared to death that he was going to be so mad at her and she was also scared that it was going to be on the news in our small town. She is a very popular girl and was afraid of other people's judgment. She said to me Please don't tell I am so scared of what he will do...I told her that I would respect her but had to tell him that I knew and get him away from us. (she was 15/turned 16 this year). So I told him to get out. My intention was not to tell anyone else and just pretend this was a normal divorce. So that is how it went. At first it felt like the right thing to do because my daughter was safe and that was all that mattered. It didn't take long before I started having nightmares and anxiety attacks. He started dating a girl with an 8 yr old daughter and it was eating at me. I just didn't know what to do. I told him that was unacceptable and that he needed counseling but he said he didn't really think he had a problem and I was not going to control him. I called the police and made a statement over the phone in March but didn't actually go in and press charges and then I just couldn't live with it anymore and even though my daughter didn't know how she felt about it I told my counselor everything and he reported it to the police and DCS. He then had no contact with the kids...that happened in August and he is now in jail. He was arrested on Dec 2. He will probably get 8 to 10 years and I am glad and my daughter has come to terms with it too. I doubt we will go to trial because I went to the police and we called him and got him to admit to the abuse on tape. That tape is what is going to make this so much easier to deal with. I suggest you do that. Get him to admit it so that your family doesn't go back thru the pain with a trial but you still get the answer that you need. And no, he is not evil as you said earlier but he is very, very sick. He needs help and you would not want to live with the understanding that he did this to someone else and you knew this was possible. My ex is absolutely the biggest manipulator i know. You can't trust these people! He knows there is a tape and yet he still keeps telling his family that I am a liar. They think I made this up because we were going thru a divorce. He even used my hesitation to turn him in to prove his innocence, saying, "why didn't she turn me in right away then if she believed that?" He is sick, sick, sick and there is nothing he will not say or do to take the spotlight off of him. He has a girlfriend with a small child and I have tried to tell her this is the truth and she calls me a liar too even though his voice is on tape admitting it and certainly at some point these people will see the evidence he keeps telling them I am a liar and they believe him. His parents won't talk to me or my daughter anymore and it is just sick and sad. He is where he belongs and I know eventually the truth will come out. Your daughter deserves to know you support her in whatever way you can you must do that. She needs you right now. Please do the right don't get a do-over. I LOVED my husband when this news came was the hardest thing I ever had to do was to kick him out (with nowhere to go) because I knew the truth but for me there was no other choice. I could never choose him over my child and even though I miss who I thought he was-I know that that is not who he was. He is a manipulator...a coward, a low-life piece of crap that I wouldn't pour water on if he was on fire! He has changed who my daughter will be-FOREVER! He has hurt everyone and doesn't care at all. I hope you wake up soon!

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A reader, anonymous, writes (16 May 2010):

I have a daughter who is 40 yrs old and has been in a destructive manner with alchol and drugs through the years. I fell that something from her past growing up may have happen between her and her dad. I feel he may have molested her. he always had a great sexual drive and as time went on he felt the need to exploit me as well. he has keep this a secret and my daughter has also. she has always worked for his love and he is a imbaressed her in his cruel way. she is right now in a rehab from a destrutive path for a month. how do I get her to let out what he has done to her when she was younger. she needs to face it to get better.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (30 December 2009):

I just want to say I understand the pain associated with this. I have just found out 10 months ago my husband of 11 years has been molesting my 15 year old sister (I have custody of) for 7 years. I will be honest when the allegations came out I no way believed her there was no way this man I loved who I shared my life with since age 16 could have done this, we had 3 kids of our own there was no way.

My disbeliefe for her at the time lead for her to be placed in foster care. I too had my gut instincts before the allegatins came out that something was not right, I had even questioned him on the matter. But of course he manipulated me and made me feel disgusted I even would assume or think something was going on. So I believed him and swallowed my instincts, then the allegation day came. I totally ignored what I had felt before now that the reality of the possibility starred me in the face.

I hated my sister for doing this at first because I honestly believed this did not happen. So my sister went into foster care I tried to work against her to disprove her credibility and my husband who by the way is a soldier got forced to move out of the house and placed into the barracks.

I was devastated. But thankfully this was the time of reckoning. My husband started showing major signs of the possibility that maybe he was guilty. He was a huge advocate against sexual abuse, spousal abuse and alcohol. Durring this time he turned into a major alcoholic and broke into the house and threw me around. He was cheating on me all the time, lying to me and leaving me and our kids with nothing to be supported financially on. He would guilt trip me and telling me he needs me to believe him and I am the only one he cares about believing him.

So I took him to get a private lie detector test which he failed at 98% deceptive. Still he tried telling me that it was because he was too emotionally attached to the situation and my sister. No sorry that does not justify it.

To make a long story short I have came to realize my husband did do what my sister has said, he too was like a father figure in her life since she does not know her own father. She also didnt want him to get into trouble and she still to this day has a fear that her neices my kids, will hate her one day for telling the truth. I have recently gotten custody back of my sister I have put all the puzzle peices together and now realized the signs were there the whole time but we become disillusioned by the love we have for the men or people who commit these types of crimes.

Basically what I am saying is this, your daughter might be telling you she wants him in her life as a father figure but the fact is she probably has seen what has so far happend due to the fact she said something. The pain it has caused you and your other family memebers. She doesnt want to make things worse and in her mind convicting him or pursuing more on the situation will make it worse, but in reality it is the worse thing to do. She is the one who has to carry this burden with her. You need to seriously talk to her and explained to her that her father needs help. And explain to her by coming forth with the allegations he can and will get the help he needs and she could possibly be saving another childs emotional life by doing so.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (23 September 2008):

I was molested by my father for years, no one knew, it didn't seem to bother me until after I had my first child. I think being completely sober for 9 months without the drugs, cutting, burning or other self mutilation vices and the fact I was going to have a child and I didn't know how i was going to keep him safe from him is what broke me down.

If she isn't going to turn him in the I would suggest you make sure to tell her that she is beautiful every day be there for her when she has a relationship. Ive never been to counseling so I wouldn't know if it helps ask her what she wants to do. This is something that will affect her for the rest of her life and keeping an open line of communication between you and her will help.

I kept my secret for 15 years, I have no innocense, self worth, and look in the mirror and see a hideous creature. My husband and few friends know and it still haunts me.

Dont let this happen to another child

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 September 2008):

This happened to me, as the child, though I too cannot remember the age at which it started. My father has had a control over me for years. It took counselling and some years of staying away to an extent, I could deal with it, to see the bigger picture. He was in the wrong, but he was also wronged, as when he was young, he too was abused by a group of girls in a humiliating way. He was a good dad but took advantage of being so close to me and never got the counselling he needed. Just let me point out though, I did not want the abuse and not only did he groom me for himself, but also for others.If your daughter has had counselling she should be ok. If she hasn't I would urge you to discuss this with her, before her seeing him again. Also she should only meet in a public place as abuse is known to go on for many years in some families, from what the counsellor told me. As a mother now, if it was my husband I'd have him locked up and the keys thrown away... After all, you get to a certain age and have to take responsibility for your actions.

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A female reader, Lisa21617 United States +, writes (5 September 2008):

My daughter was molested by her stepfather from age 8 to 10. When he and I split, I was not aware of the abuse.

Like many victims, my daughter began cutting herself around the time she started high school. After months in therapy, she revealed the abuse and we reported it.

The trial was extremely invasive. My daughter's MySpace account, including all of her personal messages and photos, dating all the way back to when she opened her account, were provided to the defense. Her counseling notes were subpoenaed as evidence. A topless photo of me taken by my then-husband was used to demonstrate my poor character. It was humiliating.

He had every court appearance postponed, objected to everything he could, requested mistrials, filed a motion for a new trial, appealed the decision, and requested a modification of his sentence (which, after portions were suspended came to 15 years, of which he must serve 25% before applying for parole), and maintains his innocence.

I know better. In looking back with this information, I definitely should have been suspicious. I also believe that he himself told me stories that indicate that my daughter was not the first, although it never "clicked" at the time.

If you think there is something wrong with the guy, there probably is. And the best thing to do would be to put as much distance between him and your daughter & you as you can, as quickly as possible.

He needs to get into a program for child sex offenders, REGARDLESS of "what will I tell people?". Tell them the truth. OWN UP TO IT! Even then, has no right to expect you to forgive him... it will only (hopefully) prevent him from reoffending with someone else.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 May 2008):

You must have such a burden of guilt already-- why take on more by allowing the remote possibility that more abuse might occur?

You're not an expert and can't know that this man hasn't hurt other children in the past, and can't know that he won't again. This is not a lynching-- he needs to be under counseling and professional surveillance, for his own sake (if you still care) and for the safety of the children around him.

At the least, you need to assure your daughter that you would also be proud of her if she decided to involve the police, and that you will finally support her ALL THE WAY whatever she decides. She needs to know that now your eyes have been opened, that you'll be her fiercest protector... let her put the brakes on you if she chooses.

You may think that the time to act passed long ago, but that's not true. There's time to salvage your daughter's trust and belief in you, and there may be time to save other children who have or might be abused by your ex. Be a hero for once.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (16 May 2008):

my daughter now aged 20 told me that her father had abused her as a child and after questioning my other daughter found that it had happened to her, i always had a feeling that there was something not quite right about him so i was only with him for 4 years, i remember walking in the bedroom when my oldest was 2 and him jumping up really quick, but i asked him what was the matter and he gave me a really stupid response that i could not argue with. Don't let people make you feel that you should of known, as i watched and looked very carefully for any inclination anything had gone on and there was none. one of my daughters still wants to have a relationship with her father but i have intervened because of the sake of the grandchildren. It was not your fault that you did not see what was going on, when things like that happen often you try to explain them away and you act irrationally. who are people to judge when they have not been in the same position. I wish i had trusted my instincts when i felt something was not right but i didn,t and how many people can say that they always trust their instincts. Just be there for your daughter but when there are grandchildren or other children in the picture let her know that it is not about what she wants anymore. a relationship with her father in those circumstances is dangerous to others and she has a duty to protect them.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (18 April 2008):

i think the abuse this questioner is getting here is disgusting and outragous. only a few of the amatuer head-shrinks answered her fairly. you are showing no respect at al for the circumstances.. and the 'advice' given has been mainly self-indulgent patronising nonsense. it is good to see that at leas tone or two have refrained from these bullying tactics and shown respect to this mum and her daughters feelings. for those whose idea of 'counselling' is ramming your ignorant opnions down other peoples throats shame on you. thes two ladie shav esuffered enough with out your harassment adding to their is some of you keyboard counsellors that are trhe ones who need therapy more than this family does.

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A female reader, DizzyGizzy United States +, writes (18 April 2008):

As much as you would like to have the last word here you chose a strong topic and YOU specifically requested an opinion.

YOU SAID: " I would like your opinion on this serious issue", and people responded. Maybe it would be helpful for you to show your counselor these responses since they have obviously affected you (if you are still in counseling- I hope you are).

I responded to you the same way as if you were part of my family. Words are sometimes difficult to hear, but nonetheless necessary. There is no doubt that your daughter is special, and wonderfully compassionate and I truly wish you and your daughter a peaceful life.

YOU SAID: "Too many people assume they think they know all the answers!"


Yes, they do, and that is why they responded to your question!

It seems to me that you did not want an opinion, but to get approval from people on this board. Is it because you don't like the suggestions of the counselor? You are obviously uncomfortable since you are seeking advise of strangers on a serious subject. If you feel isolated, maybe it is because you are keeping a secret and have no one to talk to.

Maybe some of the words were harsh, but it is possible that many of them have had personal experiences, and they just want to shake you up. Read between the lines and try and keep an open mind. If you cannot do that, than the rest of this comment is reserved for anyone else who visits this board confused like you are.

My hope is that maybe they will choose another direction as a result of these comments. I am sure that there could be a peaceful debate on this subject by all of the different opinions here. The obvious concern is that of your child, or any child that can be affected by your husband both past, present, and future.

YOU SAID: " there has never been any evidence that he has ever looked at or touched another child (nothing on his web history either...except women and other stuff I abhor that contributed to my leaving, but no sign of any children!).


Did you leave your husband because you abhor that he looked at women on web sites, or because he sexually molested your daughter?

DO you seriously think that the only evidence of child molestation would be on his computer, or that you are capable of making that determination????? If you do, then you are wrong, and you cannot foretell the future. If you don't believe me, ask a police officer in your area.

You mentioned that the molestation stopped when your daughter was in uniform, but did not know what age. If it started at age two like you said, then at what age was she in her uniform. For your daughter to be cutting, attempting suicide, depression etc. the abuse was likely severe. That means that your husband is seriously ill! Does he see a psychiatrist? If, not, why not demand that he does?

I came across this site by accident and read your story and I signed up to reply because I CARE. I offered my advise because I have had experience in this area. I advocate for children. I have had numerous conversations with a detective who specifically works on these cases, and was involved in some personal situations. I supported a friend (in her 40's) who had to come to terms with repeated sexual abuse by her grandfather when she was a child. DO you know who she was more mad at? Her mother. Why? Because her mother did not make a big issue of it. My friend forgave the grandfather early on (although she did cut him off as an adult) because she knew he was sick. She no longer speaks to her mother. If you visit support sites of adult victims of incest I am confident that you will read similar stories of how these individuals disowned entire families way after the fact. I supported a friend whose young son was molested by a neighbor for one year, and I supported a family member who learned that her five year old daughter was being molested by her friends dad for two years. Both kids were deeply affected. The police were notified in both cases as well as all the neighbors who were in contact with these predators.

YOU SAID: "Research has been done in Canada supporting pedophiles by people in the community. YES, mothers of young children HELPING by befriending some of these men who are isolated, and by reducing the isolation it is showing that they do not re offend, but have someone they can trust to turn to help them not re offend."


The "Circles of Support and Accountability" (COSA) in Canada, if that is what you are referring to is for sex offenders who get out of prison and are forced to be accountable to a community of volunteers who KNOW what they did, and support them in society. COSA is a " coordinated approach to sexual offender reintegration."

Center for Peacemaking and Conflict Studies Circles of Support and Accountability - -

An Evaluation of the Pilot Project in South-Central Ontario

How many people know what your husband did?

Who is "reducing the isolation it is showing that they do not re offend", as you stated?

It can't be you since you can't bear to be near him as you stated. So, is it your daughter? You stated that your daughter is teaching her abuser about his boundaries. I cannot imagine that her counselor supports this?

Where is your community of volunteers like COSA that protects other potential victims?

DO you feel that you have a responsibility to others to warn them (family, and others he is in contact with)?

DO you allow your other minor children to visit with your husband without you and do you think that you could be held accountable for not protecting them from a known predator?

Megan, (google "Megans Law") was killed by her next door neighbor who had a history of unreported sexual deviant behavior. Maybe her story will change your mind. No one seemed to think that her predator could do this, but he did. Too late for Megan and her parents.

YOU SAID: I am proud of her!) to support him to make sure he is aware of the boundaries. (So special is she, though I cannot bear to see him myself).


She makes sure he is aware of the boundaries by herself?

So, what if he has an urge to rape her? If he hasn't been reported, or investigated, then he wasn't evaluated, was he? You cannot know what he is capable of.

Would you be proud of her if she reported her father?

Did you tell her that everything would be better and OK if she reported her Dad? I hope you did.

Your daughter visits a man who assaulted her by herself without the protection of you because you cannot bear it??? Why not go with her to "bear it" and feel the pain and protect her.

YOU SAID: "Also, IT IS NOT MY JOB to report anyone," and that you cannot force your daughter to do so.


Your right, and you should not force your daughter and victimize her any further, but did you inform her that sex offenders are known to repeat their behavior, or did you tell her that you don't think it will happen again?

If your daughter is aware that another child may be affected then she may change her mind. That is, if her mother supports her.

Did you tell your daughter that you did not want to break up the family as you stated on this board? I hope not, because that would affect her decision to tell.

YOU SAID: the driving seat is my daughter, NOT ME and NOT YOU.


"YOU", I assume, means anyone who does not agree with you who took the time to try and make you think about what you are doing, and that is all the control that they have.

As long as you continue to argue your point will be as long as people who are strongly against your decision will respond.

YOU, the anonymous writer of this subject are in the Mothers driver seat and your job is how you define it!

You, and most mothers are keenly aware of their the power to influence their children. You can influence her in a positive way if you accept the fact that your husbands potential to abuse again is likely.

You have control over the choices you make that affect others in your community.

If you are unable to have him prosecuted, you can certainly report it to the police so that they are aware. If they can't do anything than at least you tried.

You can divulge this information confidentially to law enforcement and others without using your daughters name, or mentioning it to her.

Are you aware that you and your daughter may be able to file a law suit against him if finances are an issue?

"It is important to realize that even if the sexual assaults happened years ago, you may still be able to report the assaults to police, and/or sue those responsible. We can help you through this often confusing process and fight for the compensation you deserve"

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A reader, anonymous, writes (17 April 2008):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

All I can say is some of you should take your knitting and sit at your local gallows!

Too many people assume they think they know all the answers!

My view is that people who do not know the boundaries, be it addiction or not need SUPPORT to not re offend. Not everyone is 100% bad just because they have done a bad thing.

Research has been done in Canada supporting paedophiles by people in the community. YES, mothers of young children HELPING by befriending some of these men who are isolated, and by reducing the isolation it is showing that they do not re offend, but have someone they can trust to turn to help them not re offend.

Also, IT IS NOT MY JOB to report anyone. I have been told by both Child Protection Agency and an organisation involved in these cases that the driving seat is my daughter, NOT ME and NOT YOU. No one can be prosecuted without her choosing to prosecute so the few people who have replied with 'hang 'em high' attitudes, you should know your facts first and not be so assumptive that you know all the background to those you judge.

Thank-you to all those rational people who understand there are often more than two sides to a story, and that compassion is the way forward for all concerned. Also, I am comfortable in supporting my daughter, we are not in denial of anything, we have both had counseling, and all of us are moving forward with our lives, and she continues to have contact with her father, amazingly (I am proud of her!) to support him to make sure he is aware of the boundaries. (So special is she, though I cannot bear to see him myself). This is the last word as far as I am concerned and there has never been any evidence that he has ever looked at or touched another child (nothing on his web history either...except women and other stuff I abhor that contributed to my leaving, but no sign of any children!)

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A female reader, DizzyGizzy United States +, writes (17 April 2008):

Saying that his "wiring" is off is another form of denial. Call him what he is - a predator.

How will you feel later, if you find out that your husband has molested your other children, your future grandchildren, or someone else's child? You have a responsibility not just to protect your own family, but to others in the community. Will you say later that you "thought" it was just this one time? Laws are in place to protect children against predators because it is a proven fact that pedophilia is an addiction. Do some research on pedophiles. Your husband will likely find another victim if he hasn't done so already. If you live in the US, you can be prosecuted for protecting a criminal. Child molestation is a criminal act. Please, Please, speak to a child abuse detective that is well versed on this subject. Do so anonymously if you are afraid at first, but this is your path for a reason, so do the right thing and correct it! Find a support group and learn that you are NOT ALONE. You stated that your daughter feels that she cannot report him now since the abuse stopped and years passed. Be a strong mother and report it. How will you know what will happen if you don't try? In the US, adults can report child abuse because children often suppress memories.

Your daughter is still maturing and is relying on you to be her role model. Teach her something new this time, and not more of the same. You "checked his websites," and you "don't think" he is molesting anyone else. Wanting something to be true is a fantasy, and you have proven that you cannot know what he is thinking. When you caught your husband performing a sexual act on your two year old girl, you ignored logical reality, and decided that it didn't really happen when it did. You also did not recognize other warning signs for years. How can you possibly trust your judgement now? You are in no condition to make rational judgment about this subject and need to get professional help NOW! Your daughter cuts herself because she was not given the tools to deal with problems, and she was damaged by your husband at a very early age! Give her the tools by showing her a strong female role model so that she never attempts suicide or cuts herself again! Forgive yourself, but please make amends to your daughter and apologize profusely for your weakness and put her first now!

Is it possible that your daughter is maintaining a relationship with her father to please you because she doesn't want to upset your family balance?

There are two types of comments on this board. One group stands by you, and supports your decision, and the other group tells you what you don't want to hear. The first group although well meaning is easier. Please don't go there. You chose the easy way out the first time. Don't "sweep this under the rug," because everything will not go away. You lived through a horrible event, but your daughter paid the price, not YOU. Now it is your turn to feel the pain of the aftermath, carry the burden, and take responsibility for her, because she cannot! How can your daughter possibly come to terms with this situation when her mother is afraid to hurt the world around her? Worrying about whose lives will be messed up as a result of speaking up is selfish and a matter of your own self preservation. REMEMBER THAT SHE WAS DAMAGED! A good parent sometimes has to do the right thing, even if it means her child will hate her, and yes it can mean the loss of family and/or friends. This man should not be in her life, or any other child's - PERIOD! Set a better example for your children so that they can learn to be strong even when they are uncomfortable. Teach them not to hide in shame for fear of hurting others, especially a predator!

Sometimes it is difficult to hear bad news, and sometimes we are afraid that we will go over the edge if we hear another thing. Your husband is weak and as the mother YOU HAVE TO BE STRONG FOR your children. Don't be afraid to ask hard questions. You cannot know if any other family members have been molested by him unless you ASK. Children are known to keep these secrets sometimes through their adult lives. Are you aware that the likelihood for a molested child to offend another is great? Has it occurred to you that your husband may have been molested by his parent(s? Your children could have been molested by their grandparent(s) and maybe they are afraid to tell you for fear that you will break. History does repeat without professional help. End the cycle and teach all of your children to talk to you about anything, even if they are uncomfortable. Talk to your children about molestation so they can learn that if anyone touches them that (even if it felt good), it is not their fault because they are kids, but that it is wrong. Tell them that they can tell you anything and that you will believe them and protect them even if they are threatened. Teach them the rules of life and tell them that others should not touch children in that way and that sex is reserved for consenting adults only. Sad to say that there are also child predators that you have to inform them about as well. I know of an eleven year old boy who was prosecuted for repeated molestation of a 4 year old. Guess what? -the eleven year old was abused by an adult. Children who are taught these behaviors are deeply affected.

The "antidote to fear is knowledge" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). We all have our cross to bare. I pray that God holds your hand through your difficult journey.

Dizzy Gizzy

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (18 March 2008):

you my lady have some of your own demons to take care off. I am sickened by your irresponsibility and weakness! Your duty is to report this man. Your daughter is the victim and obviously has mixed emotions about her dad. Your job is to be the parent and make the right, difficult decisions. You need to not be afraid of his family knowing!! He deserves all the shame! God woman, do you know what an ENABLER is? You are seriously flirting with the idea of a happy balance being attained where he can still be a father figure and evrything is ok?? Wake up betch!!

My bf of four years was molested by his dad as a boy and his mom allowed it to happen even when he told her it was happening. When he started to deal with these issues at 23, his family shunned him and sided with the molestor and my bf absolutely lost it. It destoyed his life, his sanity and our relationship. God you need to understand your role in this. Step up! You HAVE to press charges! Get a written statement from your daughter and take it from there yourself, she can handle that much. I really sorry this happened to you but nevrtheless you are partly resonsible. You can attempt to redeem yourself by DOING THE RIGHT THING NOW and making sure this man goes to prison!

By trying to be casual and quiet about it you are buying into a culture of denial that allows this abuse to happen to commonly in the first place, be the solution, or your just part of the problem.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (17 February 2008):

My father was always my best friend. 4 years ago we discovered he had abused my 12 year-old daughter since an early age. She just turned 16 and has dealt with the same problems as your daughter. My mom (God bless her is the sweetest, caring person I know) still lives with the ........ We did the court thing. He did the mediocre time thing. My daughter came home the other day and found a box of valentine candy mom left in the mail box for her. My wife rounded the corner and and noticed she threw it out the window in the street.

The moral of this story is: Grandmoms, moms, dump the guy no matter how weak you are or lose the children forever.

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A female reader, Midge United Kingdom +, writes (28 January 2008):

Midge agony auntI am glad that you have your head screwed on and that your daughter does not need to go through the court case process. If she has dealt with/or is dealing with the situation, there is no need to go on a personal crusade to imprison her father.

For people that havent been through the process it is difficult to see how abuse changes your life. They just see the fact that the villan has done something wrong, and they must pay for their crime. However, it is not nearly as clearcut as that. There are so many more things to take into consideration.

I wish you and your daughter get peace. It will take her a long time to get over it, but you must not let her loose sight of the fact that she is young and has her whole life ahead of her, and that not all men are like that. For a long time after my ordeal I thought all men were evil. But I met my boyfriend and found out that there are some good guys out there!

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A female reader, Laura1318 Malaysia +, writes (27 January 2008):

Laura1318 agony auntI am glad that you have taken the right course of actions and not listen to those judgmental views. I agree with your assessment of some people here .

For saying this , I will make more enemies here and get more demerit points. LOL!

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A reader, anonymous, writes (26 January 2008):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

I would like to thank many of you who have managed to be objective in suggesting a balanced way of dealing with this. However, although I can see some replies are from personal experience of abuse (my heart goes out to you), some of the replies have been too judgmental in assuming one case is like another. At the end of the day, it is my daughter who leads the way on this, and as her mother it does not give me the right to over ride her wishes and involve any outside agencies. We have discussed if other children are at risk and we KNOW they are not, otherwise her decision would be different. Some of you sound like the sort of people who would go out with a lynching party in the 18th Century with the 'string him up by his balls' attitude, but prior to my knowledge of this happening I believe that ostracizing anyone is not the solution as it appears that these men are often not bad, but have a lack of boundaries and this needs treating, not only for the sake of the molester, but for the safety of others. Treating these men badly only serves to confuse them even more. Anyway, my husband has showed no interest in little girls, and my daughter was just opportunistic. His web sites link to women dressed up as school girls, there was no access to paedophilia when I checked his web history. In fact he would risk his life to save anyone. I do not love him, in fact I have nothing to do with him, he knows why. But he is the only father my daughter has known and she does not want to see her father in prison. It has been a battle for her, but she feels she can deal with it better by maintaining a distant relationship with him, and as long as she believes he is of no risk to other children, the last thing she wants is a vendetta against him involving the criminal justice system when the damage is already done and he stopped years ago.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (26 January 2008):

First of all you are only assuming that he hasn't touched another child. That old saying about assuming "you make an ass out of you and me" My father too abused me as a child and I didn't get therapy for it till I was 21. I am now 43 and have suffered all my life it seems with this low self esteem and only see myself as a sex object. My whole identity is around that. I have slept with over 300 men and was married for 17 yrs with 3 beautiful kids. I didnt start this soul bashing till I was away from my married life and single. I was out to find someone to love me,because thats what I knew. That is how my father showed me was through sex how a man loves a woman. I am now getting help and a bf that I love with all my heart is really trying hard to stand by me with all my problems. I just don't want to see your daughter go through what I have. She is only 16 and really is still a child especially after what she had to go through. Good luck... I wish my mom had spoke to the police and charged him.. my life might have turned out differently.

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A female reader, 72rach United Kingdom +, writes (25 January 2008):

If this man isn't reported then think of what he could do to other innocent children out there.. nieces, grandkids, friends' daughters etc.. it repulses me to think of a man doing this and even more so because he has got away with it so therefore is able to strike again . and no doubt he will strike again, if my husband ever did this i would report it straight away and have him removed from my home, as for your daughter, she needs some sort of councelling to help her through this

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (15 January 2008):

If i were you i would press charges as hard as it would be! being a mother myself and a woman that was molested as a child that is what i wish wouldve happened. My parents chose not to press charges because it was my cousins husband! But i now am going to since there is no statute of limitations on such crimes. Do whats best for your children whether you love him or not! Think of it like this what is more important to you your children which you carried in your body and im sure vowed to protect know matter what or a man that you met and is obviously a sick twisted mother fucker.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (15 January 2008):

Oh my God oh my God, i am in shock. i am completely shocked and devastated to learn of my daughters abuse by her father/ my ex husband. too much to type but i saw this whatever it is that you posted and it rings so very close to home. i need help. badly.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (13 January 2008):

Wow, that's such a horrible story! I know exactly what you're going through! I had the same thing happen to me. The only difference is, I'm the daughter. I forgave my father. He had a mental illness that went untreated for years as he raped me repeatedly. My mother had no excuse however. She knew it was happening but ignored it. I grew up thinking that it was normal because the abuse started when I was only 3 years old. When my mother was placed in a wheelchair after injuring her back at work, I basically took my mother's place in the bedroom. My mother slept in the living room in the recliner. I tried to tell her numerous times but she always said I was making it up. Most of the time she stayed pretty stoned. My father would make me walk around naked in the house and my mother would tell me it was good for my skin. This continued until I was almost 17 and got brave enough to run away and call the cops.

My best advice is get your daughter to therapy ASAP. To hell with what everyone will thinkI You OWE it to your daughter to report this to the authorities. She's not in her right mind to decide that he shouldn't be reported.

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A female reader, deejayanna United Kingdom +, writes (3 January 2008):

deejayanna agony auntget your daughter to see someone it will defanetly help her

and i really think the police should be invovled because if the man can do it to his own daughter he can do it to any child

the man has a problem

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A female reader, Midge United Kingdom +, writes (31 December 2007):

Midge agony auntI could tell you that going to the police would be the right thing to do, but having gone through a court case myself and being made out to be the villan, if she is on the mend, I personally wouldnt want her to have to deal with the trauma of putting her through that. I wouldnt want to dig up old issues which she may have dealt with and put her through those emotions again.

Also, what would you gain from telling her brothers, his family or anyone for that matter? I would never normally tell someone not to go to the police in a matter such as this however, after years of working through these issues I fear she would be put back at square 1.

I would however make your husband very clear on the fact that you know what he did and that should you hear of ANYTHING dodgy, and I mean anything, you will be going to the police and will divulge EVERYTHING to them!!!

Its perhaps not an ideal situation, however if he isnt having any contact with any other kids AT ALL that you know of. Or doesnt have a girlfriend that has kids, grandkids etc, and there isnt much chance of him having access to kids, then I would rather scare him senseless rather than telling the police. However, if he has any contact with kids at all, you have a right as a parent to do what is right. And that would mean telling the police!

I hope this rambling makes sense to you! Dont hesitate if you want to talk further.

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A female reader, Whisp United Kingdom +, writes (31 December 2007):

Whisp agony auntI don't think there's any need to involve his family, and i'm not really sure of how this works, but i *think* notifying the police of past events may be an idea, just to make sure that if it does happen again then they have a record of it to refer to, after all if it is going to become a chain of occurences then the police are the ones who should be able to link them, as they're the ones who can do something about it.

i don't think you need to tell his family though, he is still a person after all and there's no reason to harm his relationships with anyone else unless you think there's a serious chance that they could be at risk.

but glad to hear that you and your daughter are doing so well together

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 December 2007):

This is verified as being by the original poster of the question

Thank-you for all your replies to date. It was through counseling that my daughter felt enabled to tell me so in that way, that kind of help has been accessed. In fact she said that being able to tell me was a kind of end point and she felt able to move on in herself, but because it was new to me, she understood that we would have a further journey to take together. This is the problem now, telling her brothers? ...telling my husband's family? ...telling the police? ...are other children really at risk? He certainly has never shown any signs during 27 years of marriage of being attracted to children in general. He has been a gentle and mild man, caring in many ways, but the marriage broke up for other reasons, the admission of molestation from my daughter only came about after the split which is part of why she felt enabled to tell me (which is scary in itself!). My daughter now feels that she has a more comfortable relationship with her father, at a distance, and she does like to see him in many ways, but knowing that he will return to his own home, even though the abuse stopped some years ago, has put her relationship with him on the right level for her. The dilemma is risking disrupting that balance we have achieved by involving police years after the event, and hurting other family members on his side of the family by the stigma that would bring.

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A female reader, shandygirl United States +, writes (31 December 2007):

shandygirl agony auntYour Daughter and you should see a therepist together. I am not being mean... a therepist will help the both of you get your heads clear in order to make the right decisions.

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A female reader, Whisp United Kingdom +, writes (30 December 2007):

Whisp agony aunthiya, i think a lot of people will say what they think you 'should' have done so firstly i want you to try not to beleive that you've done anything wrong in not acting sooner, noone wnats to beleive that the people they love can do anything wrong and it's natural to not expect something like that to happen.

so i think that you need to do what's right for you and your daughter now, since you can't change the past. try to keep a strong relationship with her and let her know that she has someone to rely on, that not everyone is like that and that it's not her fault at all. if she will agree to it, counselling might be the best option but otherwise ask her what she thinks will amke her happiest and just try to support eachother in whatever paths you choose.

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A female reader, Midge United Kingdom +, writes (30 December 2007):

Midge agony auntThere will be many judgemental people who will think it is so easy to know what you should have done, and should do, but you and your daughter now have some hard decisions to make.

I was raped at age 15 by someone that I trusted with my life. He abused that trust and to be honest I can understand your daughters depression, self harming etc. I know because I went through that for years. Okay, it wasnt my dad, but someone who I would have done anything for and trusted so much.

It will be very hard for you and your daughter whatever decisions you make, and let me tell you, no one has the hard and fast "answer" for you. I can only tell you what I think would be the best thing for your daughter, since I have been through a "similar" experience.

Your daughter will be feeling guilty. Guilty because he is her dad, and she wouldnt want anything to happen to him, even though she cant bare for him to touch her now. I know I couldnt bare to be in the same room as the man that hurt me let alone let him touch me. I used to self harm because in my mind it would "release the pain", and unburden me. I went through 4 years of such deep depression that I considered at points in my life that the only way to feel better was to "do myself in" and give my parents their life back.

The first thing I think you need to do, is have a long talk to your daughter. Find out what she wants to do! Whatever happens she needs to be in counselling TODAY!!!! Call a rape crisis centre in your local town and get the telephone number of one of their counselors or someone that they would recommend.

She needs to "understand" her options and she needs to understand that whatever happened it was not her fault. I struggled with that for years, because even though I knew it wasnt my fault, I always felt that perhaps I said something or did something to give him the impression that it was okay. It took almost three years of counselling for me to understand that first. Once she understands that her dad did wrong!!! she will be able to make decisions for herself!

Something you need to decide is whether or not you still want to be associated with this man! Do you want him to have free access to your daughter when he wants, or do you want to get the hell out of dodge and get your daughter help and then help for yourself?

Also, what access does he have to other kids? Does grandkids, neighbours kids or any other kids come over? If they do, you have a moral obligation to make sure that this doesnt happen to them too!

Its too late to stop this from happening to your daughter, but its not too late to stop it happening to other kids!

I am by no means judging you because I know that you must at the point of finding your husband touching your daughter, that there is no way that he would knowingly do that! That he must have just thought it was you and not her! Any woman that loves her husband would not knowingly want to believe that! But you know now, and its what you do with the information that will make a difference.

Whatever you do, you need to discuss any decisions with your daughter. If you do something behind her back, it will get back to her, and you could loose her forever! This is the hardest thing you are ever probably going to have to deal with, so take things slowly, not too slow, but at a comfortable pace and do right by your daughter!

I dont have all the facts, but I do hope you keep in touch and let us know how you get on.

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A female reader, ladycharm United Kingdom +, writes (30 December 2007):

ladycharm agony auntthis isent about what you should have done because its to late for that its happend but now you have to help you daughter deal with it she need to know its not her fault and i realy think she need some counceling she might feel that there is something dirty inside her thats why she's self harming she need to know that no matter what your gonna be there to help her and you'll love her no matter what and you dont balme her you need to get this sorted and its going to be the hardist for your daughter you may find that she balmes you she might feel it was your fault you dident protect her but thats something you have to deal with good luck

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A female reader, Landie South Africa +, writes (30 December 2007):

Landie agony auntYou should get our daughter to see somebody as soon as you can. And you can still lay a charge against her father even if it happened years ago.

I was molested when I was about 3 ad thankfully my mom got me out of the situation. But when I was old enough to understand what happened my mom explained it properly to me and even if I don't remember everything 100% I still find it hard to trust guys.

What her father did is the worst thing a father could do to his child. She might feel resentment to you but you have to go to the police and tell them. If he could do it to your daughter who says he has and will not do it to some other little girl.

Good luck To you and your daughter

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A female reader, Sweet-thing United Kingdom +, writes (30 December 2007):

Sweet-thing agony auntYour daughter needs counseling because she is self-destructing because of what her father has done to her, even though he is no longer doing these things, the memories remain and she is not dealing with the reality of it very well. You should file for divorce if you haven't already done so. It's up to your husband to seek his own professional help and he does need it but that is not your concern anymore. What your daughter decides to do with her relationship with him, is really up to her. But her counseling sessions should help her come to terms with what's happened and help her to find healthy ways of dealing with the pain and forgiveness that will free her from this self-destructive behavior. The two of you should remain close, and be supportive to each other because afterall, you have both suffered abuse in this situation. Hers was more sexual/physical and yours was emotional. I wish you all the best.

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A female reader, duskyrowe United Kingdom +, writes (30 December 2007):

duskyrowe agony auntYou should have gotten away from him all those years ago when you suspected he was abusing your daughter. Any parent with some sort of shadow of a doubt about this person would have taken their child out such an awful environment. If I was you and your daughter, I would report this nasty pervert and have this scumbag locked away for good. Get yourself a good lawyer to fight your case too, and bring justice to what this pathetic speciman has put your daughter through.

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A female reader, Fairy_Lu United Kingdom +, writes (30 December 2007):

Fairy_Lu agony auntFirst of all im so sorry this has happend but believe it or not this isnt as rare as you may think many people are abused by someone they know and trust and to be honest i think your daughter should seek councilling, and if you or her need to talk to anyone who has been through similar things and want some comfort or advice message me and i will give you an address for a very good site where some of the memebers have gone through very similar things.

To be honest i would report him to the police they might not be able to do anything but this is child abuse and does need to be reported, as for your daughter i dont imagine she will want much contact with her father but if she does make sure she isnt alone with him and after visits make sure she isnt alone for around 24 hours because the visit might trigger her and cause her to self harm or worse

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