A Mother’s Nightmare. My Daughter Was Sexually Abused.

Morning Friends,

Well, I did it. I ran the “MORE” Half Marathon in NYC last Sunday. It’s been on my bucket list for years and years to run a half marathon even though I have never been a runner. I figured I’d better do it now or I will be too old.

On New Years Eve, 2015, my friend Sue, challenged the women in our small group to join her for this half marathon in April 2016. This was my chance and I committed. It’s scary to commit yourself to a big goal – a goal that is way outside your comfort zone or experience level. And there is a crucial distinction that is important for all of us to recognize. Although I sincerely desired to achieve my goal, it took months of faithful training and practice to actually get my body to be capable of reaching that goal.

In the same way, Jesus tells us, “Your spirit is willing, but your flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41). If you or someone you know wants to make a change, even when your heart is sincere, it takes more than words to make that change. It takes a commitment. It takes a plan and it takes support from wise others who have already walked that journey.

In my situation, Sue, an experienced marathon runner regularly e-mailed me over the months of training to check on my progress. On race day, she brought some gel packs that gave me extra energy for when I thought my feet and legs would fall off. She told me it was better to walk up the steep hills instead of running, and throughout the entire race, she ran right by my side encouraging me and praying for our victory.

Perhaps you have a big goal. It might be to get a job, go back to college, separate from your destructive spouse, or work toward reconciliation. Desire is only the first step. What is your plan to turn your desire into a reality? What changes do you need to put in place so you can achieve your goal? For me, it was committing significant time each week to run so that my body would be capable of running that distance. For others it might be going to a financial planner, saving money, contacting a college advisor, taking a class, going to therapy, or joining a support group to get strong enough to take the next steps.

Whatever it is, start small but start now. I did not begin my training program running miles. I walked one mile. Then I ran a little bit in-between walking. Each day I’d add a little more distance and a little more running until I could run one mile without stopping, then two. But I stayed faithful and consistent and in the end, I achieved my goal. So can you.

CONQUER, our support group for women is open for new members.  This happens only twice a year and will close to new members this Saturday, April 23rd, at midnight.  For more information on CONQUER and its benefits, click here.

The question this week dovetails on this topic because a woman wants to believe her husband’s words. However, even if his words are sincere, she can’t trust his actions and to do so could result in great harm to her child.


This Week’s Question: I have known my husband my entire life. We first dated when we were 18. We’re now 40, been married for 3 years with 2 kids. Our oldest daughter is mine, although he has raised her for the last 8 years. He is an amazing father and she has had her rough times with him but great times too. He has done a lot for her.

Our son adores him. He is his best buddy. Recently my daughter said he touched her private parts on three separate occasions. She said it started two weeks ago.

I will admit we have had our issues but this is unimaginable. He said he accidentally did it once and she moved his hand. He said he was embarrassed. Anyway, she told a family member, we went to go to counseling, and the police were called. Now, my daughter yells at me that she wants me to hate him. I married this man with the intent to be together forever. I have always loved him even when we were not together when we were young and I still loved him. Everyone tells me I can no longer be with him or love him. They want me to hate him.

Only God, my daughter, and husband know what truly happened. But if God can forgive him and we let God back into our life and remove Satan, wouldn’t God want us to be together? He knows he is a good man? Please help I’m stuck in the middle.

Answer: You are in a mother’s worst nightmare and I feel for your dilemma. Your daughter has accused your husband of inappropriate touching not only once but three times. She was also brave enough to disclose it to you and another family member. She is a strong little girl and needs to be heard and supported. Studies show that the sexual abuse or inappropriate touch of a child is not always the most traumatic thing she experiences but rather the reluctance of her mother or other family members to believe or protect her.

Your job as her mother now is to protect your daughter. She only has one mother and God has put you in that role. You say your spouse is a good man but good people sometimes do bad things. He’s confessed to inappropriately touching her once – by accident, but it’s hard for me to imagine how he could accidently touch an 8-year old girl’s private parts – and keep his hand there long enough that she would physically have to move it away. Also, pedophiles (which are men who are attracted to pre-pubescent children) minimize and lie about what happens, so I would trust your daughter’s word over your husband’s.

This issue is very serious. You do not need to hate your husband but you do need to recognize that he has a serious problem that is not fixed by prayer alone. I don’t want you to close your eyes to what has happened or look at it as an accident. A grown man is not sexually attracted to a pre-pubescent child unless he has serious problems and he must recognize and face what’s going on in his own heart and habits.

You say only God, your husband and daughter know for sure what happened, but I think you know in your heart of hearts that your daughter is telling you the truth. You ask, “But if God can forgive him and we let God back into our life and remove Satan, wouldn’t God want us to be together?”

The answer is no.

We can forgive but there are times that we never must forget. Sometimes consequences for serious sin are permanent.(tweet that)

Even if forgiveness has been granted, your husband should not have contact with your daughter. If he gets help, says he’s changed, she has forgiven him and wants to see him again, he should still not have unsupervised contact with her or other minor children, period. That may seem harsh but listen to Jesus’ words about those who harm children.

He says, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offense! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:6-7 NKJV).

Jesus knows that people victimized others. Because Satan is the prince of this world, he is always behind this kind of evil. Jesus sternly warns those who hurt children that they will receive the severest judgment, but what are the offenses that Jesus is talking about here?

The Greek word for “offenses” is skándalon, which means:

“The trigger in the trap on which the bait is placed and that springs the trap when it is touched by the animal, causing the trap to close. Skándalon always denotes the enticement or occasion leading to conduct which brings with it the ruin of the person in question.” (Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D., ed., The Complete Word Study New Testament, p. 955)

Jesus says when someone traps or entices a child and harms her it profoundly affects her life. Jesus knows that those who abuse children can cause havoc with their view of themselves, their view of God, and their future ability to form trusting and loving relationships.

To minimize that damage, it is up to you as her mother to lovingly support her, protect her, and make sure she doesn’t feel responsible for any of your current stress or unhappiness. She didn’t “do this”, your husband did.

That may mean that you have to get your own therapy to work through your grief around all that has happened so that it doesn’t impact your judgment or your care of your children. This will be one of the hardest most challenging things you ever do, but with God’s help, you can do it.

Friends, has this ever happened to you? What would you advise her to do to stay strong for her daughter as well as process her own grief about her marriage?


  1. Michelle on April 20, 2016 at 7:37 am

    This situation happened to my cousin and her daughter. My young cousin at age 14 was lured and molested by her uncle by marriage (her stepfathers brother). The sexual molestation occurred so often that my young cousin began to think she was in love with this uncle. Once all of this was revealed, the young cousin did not have the support from her mother. Instead her mother said her daughter, “liked it”. Her mother continued to let her be around the uncle that had a wife and kids at home. Her mother acted like it did not happen. We all tried to get CPS involved, but nothing really came of it. The child is now 27 and her and her mother do not have a close mother/daughter relationship. They still communicate, but there is so much bitter and hurt that surrounds their relationship. Her mother was molested as a child too and I am sure that plays a lot in how she sees her daughters situation. I do feel the mother was and still is jealous of her own daughter in some outrageous way. The now 27 yr old’s sexual preference is women, she is a lesbian, I also feel that has to do with her being molested. Once those lines are crossed and sin occurs, that opens the door for other sins to take place later in life. Please continue to pray for all the families that endure!

    • Leslie Vernick on April 20, 2016 at 11:53 am

      How true. Thanks for sharing.

      • Martha on April 20, 2024 at 7:40 pm

        Hi. I came to this thread because I had a nightmare about my children’s deceased dad, whom in the past had molested my daughter. A little bit of the past…….

        Back in the year 2000 when my youngest son was 3 months old, I witnessed my daughter being molested when she was 3 years old by her biological father, as he was giving her a bath. Without hesitation, I left him with my children. However, after I received a life-long protection order against him because he was also abusive towards me, and my attorney did not want to make too much of an issue what my daughter’s dad did to her, her dad went to another courthouse and filed a third-party hearsay of a supposed dirty house in which was granted because that judge was not aware of the current protected order that he can only have supervised visits and cannot go out of state. Well, he took my children out of state, then continued to molest my daughter at the age of six years of age for two weeks before my children were court ordered to be returned back to me.

        Currently, my only daughter is 27 years old and has her own daughter, currently 8 months old. She is very protective of her daughter, and I know that she will protect her. Because till this day, she remembers what her dad did to her, that at times it depresses her. And she is a very strong-willed woman.

        Today, I was asleep and wokeup from a horrific dream as if it were currently happening. The dream was about her dad, whom passed away in 2014, was holding a little girl telling me that is what our baby girl is going to look like, and it was my daughter or possibly her daughter, around the age of two or three years old. In the nightmare, the tragedy that happened to my daughter did not happen, yet; because in the dream she was not born. So that is why I think it was my daughter? However, I do not trust the father because he is an atheist* of my daughter’s baby, and thus, it could be their daughter?

        Ever since I left my children’s dad, I have been very protective of my children, that I may have went on a few random dates, but I never took the men seriously because of my fear of a stranger hurting my daughter and two sons, especially because of the abuse from their biological father – I could never trust anyone thereafter.

        In the past when my children’s dad was still alive, I would have nightmares of him finding us, him being from the military and one of the things that he did was to find hidden people.

        Is my current dream just another paranoid dream? Because the father of my daughter’s baby is a questionable character.

        * even trying to convince me that the Bible is in error and that there is no truth in it. But when I asked him simple questions, he knew nothing about the basics in the Bible. And when I tried to give him scientific evidence of the truth in the Bible, he did not want to hear anything about it saying that evidence does not exist. My daughter is baptized and has a strong relationship with God, and we did daily Bible studies. But now, she never has time, so I fear that if he tried to falsify information about God and the Bible on the first day that we met, what more has he done with my daughter, and will do with his daughter?

      • Martha on April 20, 2024 at 8:20 pm

        Mind you, my daughter is still married to another man, and still in the process of a divorce. Her husband was neglecting her for over a year, going on vacations with female friends without my daughter. So her baby’s dad, before she became pregnant, started to give my daughter attention that she desired, him not caring that she was already married.

        Personally, I strongly believe that Satan is attacking God’s children because his time is near. Satan is also attacking my son’s with Jezebel women, whom are currently fighting for their rights to see their daughters.

        My oldest son is dealing with the mother of his baby because the mother is only concerned about money, that she will not allow him to see his daughter. Even though they have 50/50 custody.

        My youngest son’s daughter of 6 months old in a very bad situation, that he is filing for full custody. Because while the mother is in and out of mental health hospitals trying to get well, the maternal grandmother has taken Parental Power of Attorney and Guardianship of his daughter, after she made her daughter to sign her guardianship to her mother. And now denying my son that he exists to the courts and to his daughter, even though we have given her over $2,000 and over $500 pf clothes for the baby.

        Furthermore, the maternal grandmother is always in auto accidents gaining funds. Her previous accident my granddaughter was in the vehicle, when she was only 5 months old. And, they do not hug her, comfort her or sing to her. They just give her a bottle, leave her in a baby bouncer, and give her a tablet to watch cartoons until she falls asleep, and where she remains.

        I fear for her!

        Is all of this happening toy children and my grandchildren is the reason why for my nightmare?

      • Martha on April 20, 2024 at 8:35 pm

        In addition, both of my sons are dating narcissistic women. Screaming and yelling at them until they get their way. Controlling and manipulating them that it is effecting their brains into zombie state-of-minds. And both of their girlfriends have cheated on them numerous of times, and they still go back to chaos.

        Example, my youngest son is seeing another woman who has two children of her own, and does not want him to have a relationship with his daughter. And she only uses him for material things, and for him to watch her children for hours when she goes out to do daily activities; that he has lost jobs because of it. Further, she keeps him up all hours of the night, that he misses work so he watches her children until she wakes up in the afternoon.

        Yes, they both need to be more responsible for their decisions. And I have had numerous conversations with them, but they do not want to hear anything.

        Is this why I am having nightmares?

        • Leslie Vernick on April 24, 2024 at 12:36 am

          Martha, I’m sorry for all you are going through. These nightmares sound awful. But I could not possibly begin to know why. Why is usually an unanswerable question. Why was I the one to get cancer? Or bad parents? Or raped or abused? So why are you having these dreams – obviously something in your internal world is restless and upset about things and it is popping out in your dreams. If it continues then I would think about consulting with some experts who can help you discern what your dream might be trying to tell you. It may be symbolic or more warning of something, but I am not an expert in analyzing dreams so I can’t help you here.

    • Kim on April 21, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Because of my molestation, I am more guarded and protected of my children, and especially my daughter. I also keep a open dialogue and make sure they all know they can tell me anything. My oldest son had an encounter and I remember it making him feel so much shame and dirty, but we prayed and got through it. I didn’t deny him the feelings or push it away. Sexual abuse is harmful and then to make it worse, when others make you out to be a liar, or you asked for it, or stupid peiple, saying stupid things, you live with shame and guilt and allow people to abuse you, thinking it’s the loving thing to do, and that’s what you deserve. Places like this, have opened up my wounds and are allowing me to be healed, instead of pretending none of it ever happened. Still working on it, and I’m 42. These occurrences happened more than 20 years ago. Please hear them and help them now, instead of making them to figure it out, later.

    • Irene on November 15, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      I am in your shoes and felt the same way. So ashamed. No one knows the mothers pain and shame. Its horrific, it feels like we could die, as if it happened to us. Please believe your child, put her first.

  2. Ruth on April 20, 2016 at 8:19 am

    Thank goodness the little girl told another family member- it sounds like the mom wants to sweep this all under rug. I suppose denial is a self-protection response. I do feel sorry for the mom; she’s facing overwhelming challenges. If she still loves her husband, then it’s even worse.
    Leslie is right. This H’s sexual exploitation of her daughter puts this man squarely in the enemy’s camp. The mom must pull it together and fight for her daughter.
    I do not understand the sexual abuse of children. It is so unnatural. And then if the child’s mother doesn’t support the child afterwards – well, I think that’s got to be the worst thing I can imagine.
    My heart goes out to any woman here who’s suffered sexual abuse.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 20, 2016 at 11:54 am

      It’s a terrible thing to be violated by a person and even worse to not be protected once you tell someone. For a child it is life altering.

      • Anewanon on May 10, 2016 at 11:47 am

        Agreed. When I was raped by an older cousin at age 10, I was told to be quiet and go take a bath…Now I have counselors telling me I am overprotective. I can’t win..

        • Val on May 10, 2016 at 4:57 pm

          There is a healing that washes all of your distrust away. I have personal experience with God’s healing power in this area. It is quite a process. Being aware that you will tend to be overprotective may actually be helpful. YOU may not be able to protect them, but God wont allow anything to happen to them that He doesn’t have a plan of restoration for. God heals. God restores. God will teach you and your children to laugh and love and trust…if you have the courage to let Him.

          That being said, I taught my daughters to yell, bite, kick, and be mean if someone touched them. I wish I had taught my sons the same.

        • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:54 am

          You may be a bit overprotective considering what happened to you. You can decide to not repeat dysfunctional behaviors but also not to live in fear. Be wise but also trust God. You can’t control everything – as you experienced. Bad things happen. That doesn’t mean we are to be reckless but wise and careful with the people we allow into our children’s lives.

      • Heather on May 17, 2016 at 8:42 am

        My daughter was molested by my husband when she was 4-7 but I did not learn about it until she was 15. It rocked my world! He denied it. He was never convicted because there was no physical evidence and no witness. She became suicidal and was admitted to a psychiatric unit. She is now 22 and in PTSD counseling, but does not function well, has few relationships. She did not blame me (had I known he would have been arrested in the 90s). I am now divorced, after 30 years, because I was no remorse for this action, nor for the 30 years of pornography use or lust concerning young women. I read Leslie’s book the Emotionally Destructive Marriage after I filed for divorce, and it validated what I had learned about abuse of many kinds. I have moved away and am starting over (at my young age!). Believing in the Lord and His promise that He will never leave me or forsake me have gotten me througb this trial. These perpetrators may never molest again, but the sickness remains within them, and they need significant and prolonged mental health treatment.

  3. Tammy on April 20, 2016 at 9:02 am

    This happened to me by a close family friend, and I was not supported by my father because the friend was his. My mother had passed away 6 months prior to the incident, so I only had my dad to lean on. He gave the guy a self-help book and had me record their “confrontation” which was about 5 minutes of quiet conversation between the two of them. Nothing happened to the guy, and I spent the better part of my life hurting and feeling unloved because I was not supported through this. DONT LET THAT MAN TAKE ANYTHING ELSE AWAY FROM HER! SUPPORT YOUR DAUGHTER – SHE NEEDS YOU!!!

    • Leslie Vernick on April 20, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience and your words of wisdom. Yes that little girl needs her mother now more than ever.

  4. Ann on April 20, 2016 at 10:33 am

    I plead with you to heed Leslie’s advice.I work with sex trafficked victims.The story I hear over and over is it started with domestic abuse ; they then are vulnerable to attention from strangers .Your daughter should be applauded for her courage to tell you; most do not.She is a beautiful example to so many children today facing this same evil.Please protect her by not allowing your husband to be alone with her and letting her know that her safety is your priority.I must confess I wonder how you could love a man that would commit this crime .and it is a crime.
    Also the comment given about the high percentage of lesbians that were abused at an early age is absolutely true.
    Thank you for your courage to connect with Leslie and to speak out as this evil is rampant throughout our society today.Your cry for help will give others the strength to speak up,I am certain.

  5. Kandi on April 20, 2016 at 10:45 am

    I was “accidentally touched” from the time I was 4 years old until I was 18 by an uncle. I was fearful to tell anyone until I found out that my little sister was being molested as well. When I told my parents, I thought something would be done to protect us. Unfortunately, they did nothing. My aunt was adamant that he would never do these things so rather than confront him, it was put aside. The molestation continued for both of us.
    As I grew up, I “let” boys take advantage of me. I was promiscuous and never felt like I had the right to say no; It wouldn’t matter if I did anyway.
    I had no sense of worth, believed sex = love, and went from one relationship to the next looking for someone to love me, not knowing what love really was.
    In later years, my mom and dad divorced and my mother lived with another man. One night after this man drank more than his share, my mom decided to sleep in the bed with me to get away from his drunken stupidness. In the night, he actually went OVER her and was touching me under my nightgown. I woke up at the same time she did. She yelled at him and asked him what he was doing. He mumbled and cursed and left the room. I packed my bags and left to find a safe place to stay. I asked her to come with me. She decided to stay with him. When I talked to her the next day, she told me that he was just drunk and that I had tried to entice him earlier!
    I was 25 years old at that time and going through a traumatic time of separation from my new husband. I reunited with him after 9 months and have been married for 28 years. Our marriage, I have recently realized, had no depth to him beyond sexual and having his needs met. I had no actual knowledge of what love and safety was.
    I didn’t want to ever have daughters because I didn’t want them to go through what I have been through. God blessed me with two! I have been so protective over them and have told them of the evils that can befall any young girl or woman. I hope that what I endured can be shared and possibly save other girls and their mothers from the trauma and heartbreak that I have dealt with for 50 years. It never goes away.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 20, 2016 at 11:57 am

      It doesn’t go away and that’s why Jesus’ words were so stern and strong. It causes a little one to stumble – for life if they are not helped and believed.

  6. Aleea on April 20, 2016 at 10:46 am

    “Friends, has this ever happened to you?” . . . .No it has not. This is an absolute, unmitigated nightmare and I will be praying for everyone involved. This is the very definition of what it means to be psychologically and relationally Un-healthy, regardless of what you “believe.”

    “What would you advise her to do to stay strong for her daughter as well as process her own grief about her marriage?” . . . . I think you have given her excellent advice. . . . I don’t ever know anything other than to run to Christ pour my heart out, continue to pour out my heart and stay present with serious grief like that to process it. But, I would most definitely get counseling and most definitely be using the criminal/ legal system to the fullest extent. We can not fear reporting incest, or God forbid collude to keep the situation secret. This must be resolved for any treatment to be effective.

    To you who wrote the question, I will so pray for you and everyone involved. . . . I know so little of your situation but I do know it is so hard to feel supported. It’s hard to believe people won’t let you down. That always left me feeling hollow and wanting to cry. Empty. As long as fathers rule but do not nurture, as long as mothers nurture but do not rule, the conditions favoring the development of father-daughter incest will prevail. Again, this is the very definition of what it means to be psychologically and relationally Un-healthy, regardless of what you “believe.” On top of abuse and neglect, denial heaps more hurt upon any child by requiring the child to alienate herself from reality and her own experience, especially if freely talking about it is forbidden or just taboo.

  7. Bill (cycleguy) on April 20, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Hi Leslie! As a pastor I have heard and seen horrible things over the 40+ years of doing this “gig.” But lately, it has almost been a non-stop “feast” of hearing of this type of garbage. One lady, raised in an Amish home, has detailed the abuse and molestation that began when she was in single digits and resulted in a pregnancy/miscarriage from her “father” at 13. It continued until she ran away, has spent time in a hospital, floundered, lived an immoral life, suicide attempts, cutting, and over the past two years found her way (it was a God thing) to the church and has heard about GRACE. Another lady details similar but different circumstances involving grandfather, father & brothers. It is enough to make a person sick. Both ladies have had to deal with the shame they feel. Both have had to deal with the lack of mom’s belief in them (the latter knew it was happening and did nothing). These woman are healing thanks to learning about GRACE and someone believing their story. I know that sounds simplistic but there is so much more. Anyway, I would concur with the advice given. that man and the daughter should not be alone and help is needed for all to cope with this.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 20, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Thanks for joining in. Shame is a huge factor for any sexual abuse victim – male or female. Believing and validating someone’s story is absolutely crucial to their healing.

  8. Heather on April 20, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Please listen to your daughter.
    I was sexually abused by my step brother for 3+ years. When I finally got up the courage to say anything to my step mom and biological father (I didn’t tell my mom til adulthood), it was excused away as curiosity and I was not to speak of it again.
    That affected my entire life. I learned very young that my body is for the pleasure of others. I loathed myself, I was completely disgusted with my existence, and I had to see him weekly and for weeks at a time. Come to find out not too much later that my biological father was doing the same to my step sister. My step mom stayed married to him! Ruining any idea my step sister or myself had of ourselves.
    I am currently trying to get out of an abusive marriage of 6 years with my 4/5 year old little girl. The man I am married to is a narcissistic misogynist. He hates women and feels they are only worth the sexual favors they can perform. So, no, do not ignore, sweep under the rug, or blindly forgive this offense.
    The abuse was always excused away or minimised. My biological father and step mother became my second abusers as they seemed to condone the abuse, not ever allowing me to feel safe and forcing me to not trust my own instincts. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve known the man and how much you love him, or for how long you’ve loved him. My bio father was a respected children’s pastor and a pedophile.
    I guess my question to you would be why would you not believe her? Is it just unfathomable to you that this is a possibility? (understandable) Please seek counseling for your daughter, for yourself, and definitely acknowledge your daughter’s bravery while getting out of his presence. She had to ‘remove his hand’. That’s telling. He ‘accidentally’ touched her. That’s telling. It happened ‘once’. Once is too many times to have his hand anywhere near your daughter’s private areas. Not acceptable. Not OK. Needs to be acknowledged. You need to keep her away from him and make a decision for your daughter that will teach her self worth, that she is worth more than the sum of her parts, that she is not here for other’s pleasure, and that she is trusted and believed.

  9. Deborah on April 20, 2016 at 11:26 am

    I beg you to not minimize this. A similar thing happened to my cousin when she was 14. Her mother acted like an ostrich, but the problem didn’t go away, it only became worse as the stepfather did more vile things to my cousin. He may have felt that he had the mother’s endorsement, since she did nothing. This happened in 1972-a time when there wasn’t much support or awareness to the problem of pedophiles. She told me about what happened to her only recently. My cousin had turned to drugs and men like her stepfather, that abused her, because in her mind she knew she had no value-her own mother didn’t value her. This mother stood by her man, and her daughter’s life was sacrificed. I never understood why my cousin’s life turned out the way it is until she told me what had happened to her, and how traumatizing this was to her. She is very ill, due to the drug and alcohol abuse. I just have to believe her life could have been better if her mother had stood by her and shown her that she had value.

  10. Ruth on April 20, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Please, please, please listen to Leslie. This little girl needs to be your first priority. Your response to her call for help is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life. Your response is going to affect how your daughter sees herself forever. She’s been hurt in one of the most unimaginable ways…from you she is going to find out whether she is worth protecting and loving and fighting for and that knowledge is going to affect all the decisions she makes for the rest of her life. There are many things worth more than a marriage – this is one.

    Please look at this situation as serious enough to get counseling not only for your daughter so she heals as well as possible but for yourself so you find out why you hesitated to immediately leave this marriage to protect your daughter.

    • Stacey on April 21, 2016 at 2:25 am

      Well put.

  11. Leslie Vernick on April 20, 2016 at 11:59 am

    You’re right on Aleea.

    • Aleea on April 20, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      . . . . good job on your marathon Leslie! I like how you encourage us by your example to try to be balanced and healthy. I like the Greek references too, re: σκάνδαλον . . . So God the Father appointed the Son to be a skándalon (Romans nine, First Peter two). The message of Christ crucified is a skándalon that believers are to embrace rather than circumvent (first Corinthians one; Galatins five). If zeal for love requires avoidance of skándalon, zeal for truth—the truth of the saving meaning of Christ’s death—requires identification with and promulgation of that skándalon σκάνδαλον. No evil in this entire world compares to the evil of Christ being crucified. A σκάνδαλον to end all skándalons!

  12. Connie on April 20, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    I have trouble understanding the ‘but’ statements that I read so often.” He is molesting my daughter, BUT he is a good man. ” “He abuses me, BUT he is a good dad.” Abusing the child’s mother is NOT being a good dad, it is being a confusing and hypocritical dad who is ruining his child’s life. Conversely, abusing the child is not loving the mother. Would you hear a man say, “I have a wonderful wife, she just has a habit of scratching my favourite car with her nail file and pouring water in its gas tank.”? That woman would need some serious help, I think.

    “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.” To do this sort of thing to your daughter, his thoughts must often be in the gutter. I’m so sorry this is happening. It must be devastating to everyone. When I married the second time, I brought with me 2 teen daughters and a son. Right up front I said, “I love you, but if you ever ever touch my girls, I will take you to the full extent of the law, no questions.” He said, “I know.”

    • Leslie Vernick on April 20, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      You’re spot on Connie. I think the reason but is used is she is still in denial about what is true reality. Sometimes reality is so shocking and painful a person can only absorb it a little bit at a time or she will become unglued. This mom needs to keep it together for her daughter’s sake so it wasn’t the time or place to challenge the “but”.

      • Irene on November 15, 2016 at 7:54 pm

        Thank you for your response Leslie. I am just like the women who posed these questions. The reality of what my daughter told me was so “shocking and painful”, I could not take it in without feeling like I was going to drown. I was suicidal when I found out. Even know, I feel like I cannot breath when I think about it. Its such a horrible thing to reconcile, that a man you loved and trusted could do such a thing. My heart goes out to her. People are so quick to throw stones, but I know first hand that this kind of information is one of the most painful things a mother could ever hear.

        • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 1:56 pm

          You are so right. Beating yourself up is not ever going to change anything and it only makes you more stuck. Have compassion on your own stuck place without enabling you to excuse it is one of the hardest things I have ever had to learn. But when we learn it it is empowering and freeing and actually helps us to get unstuck quicker than anything else.

  13. Donna on April 20, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    In response to the mother torn between her 8 year old daughter and her husband, I can relate. When my son was 3, I overheard my husband saying mean things to him. I didn’t want to recognize what was happening because I loved my husband. I chalked it up to him being grumpy and unintentionally taking out on my son (from another father.) when I heard it the second time, my boy started crying. I stepped into my husbands sight and his face turned red realizing I heard what he said. If I heard it twice, how many times did he verbally abuse my baby when I wasn’t there to hear it? I asked my husband to leave. My little boy is helpless against verbal attacks like that. He needed me to be his voice. Husbands can come and go but my kids are mine forever. Praying for you in your situation. Show your little girl she can count on you to protect her.

    • Robin on April 20, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      Excellently said, Donna. Thank you!

    • Leslie Vernick on April 20, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks for sharing Donna

    • Stacey on April 21, 2016 at 2:09 am

      Thank you for your transparency and honesty. This is inspiring that the Holy Spirit can help us to do the right thing even when the flesh is weak. I pray that He will help this girl’s mother in the same way.

      High 5 to putting your kid’s well-being before any man, especially an abusive one! You’re a mama bear after my own heart. 😉

  14. Loretta on April 20, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    Your daughter needs you to believe her! I’ve been there with a Grandpa that my Mom didn’t protect me from and the damage was enormous! Also I married a guy that touched a tween girl and minimized it and there was much emotional damage! Abusers all seem to make light of what they do but cause much damage to their victims! It’s not OK for you as Mom to put your relationship with a man above taking care of your daughter. You are the adult and can fend for yourself, she as a child can’t!
    It’s not about your feelings for him, it’s about your God given responsibility to care for and protect your daughter. Living in the same home as him is abusive toward her as it will continually trigger the pain and fear. God will give you strength to do the right thing if you allow him to.
    Stand up and be the Mom God would want you to be and maybe someday when you daughter is grown you can have a relationship with him, if there’s real love and he repents. Otherwise I’d wonder if you are being unrealistic about him and his problems! It’s easy to pretend they don’t exist when you are protecting yourself and your interest.

    I’m sorry you are facing such a difficult situation, but please help your daughter and know that even once will cause damage, but your love and care can help heal if she’s not subjected to ongoing contact with him!

  15. Karen on April 20, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Reading Leslie’s response feels like a healing salve on my heart. I SO wish my mom had chosen my safety and protection over her own desires. She chose him & his empty promises over her daughters. To this day, that will never make sense to me. I pray the the author of this inquiry will look deeply into what response to the situation most affirms, protects, and secures her daughter’s value. It is an opportunity that is not to be missed, as it will effect her all of her adult life.

  16. Tess on April 20, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    When my teen daughter was a toddler, she was left with our teen son while my husband and I were out for dinner. Getting her ready for bed that night, I noticed an odd bruise on her inner thigh and a small amount of blood in her underwear, but no signs of other trauma. She acted normal and my 5/6 yo son said she had not cried while we were gone.
    I brought it to my husband’s attention and he just shrugged and said “I didn’t do anything.” I called the doctor’s office and the nurse said it was nothing that required an office visit. I told another health care provider and he seemed unconcerned. Nothing further was done.
    Looking back, I was shocked and couldn’t believe my teen son would harm his sister in such a way. Now I wonder if, given husband’s lack of concern, maybe HE had something to do with it. Since then, my other daughter has made some odd comments about her dad’s reference to his male parts. I absolutely regret not pursuing the issue ten years ago since now any proof is gone, and he will be receiving overnight parenting time. I struggle with whether I should bring it up now during the divorce proceedings or just stay alert and continue to teach my children about safety and inappropriate touching. Any thoughts?

    • Maria on April 21, 2016 at 9:04 am

      Tess, How is your teen daughter?

      • Tess on April 21, 2016 at 9:27 am

        She has a lot of anxiety, but counseling is helping with that.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 21, 2016 at 9:15 am

      Personally I think it would be a mute point to bring it up other than, “I”m here for you – if there is anything you feel unsafe about or uncomfortable with when visiting dad, please tell me.” That opens the door for her to disclose if indeed something has happened.

      • Tess on April 21, 2016 at 9:44 am

        Thank you, Leslie.

        • libl on April 21, 2016 at 2:19 pm

          Give her a cell phone to call you any time day or night if she ever feels unsafe at dad’s.

      • Leonie on April 21, 2016 at 11:44 am

        Thank you Leslie – I like that and will record that line to use it too. I don’t that feel my daughter is safe with her dad either but have no choice. The court mandates that he has to see her.

    • SANE on April 21, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      By not talking about what happened it perpetuates the crime. Her body remembers what happened to her. Someplace in her mind is the terror of what her father did to her. Yes, tell, tell, tell and talk about it. I disagree with the idea of not giving full disclosure to her childhood rape incident. I am telling you…she remembers. Validate her memories, it will explain so many of the other problems she may be having. Counseling will offer some if any hope that she can have a normal sex life and bounding with a spouse. Children of rape are often dangerously sexually active, as they grown. They feel dirty, damaged and different.- Please accept this from an experienced Sexual Assault Examiner with a certification in Forensics

      • CBPP on May 19, 2016 at 12:00 am

        I agree with SANE!! Her mind, spirit and body remembers the terror and it will effect ALL of her relationships in ALL of her life.

        There are many red flags in the telling of the story even now, years later. Blood along with a bruise indicates trauma, and probably penetration — that is rape. The husband’s response, “I did not do anything” is odd since he was not at home that evening, yet he was deflecting being questioned. A normal father reaction is to be enraged to think his toddler had been hurt in such a way. It is totally inappropriate for a father or step father to be making comments about his male parts to his daughter or stepdaughter. There is no mention of how the teen son is living his life, then and now.

        Start with telling your daughter’s counselor of your suspicions and the likelihood of it being the source of her anxiety. Without that knowledge, the counselor is grasping to uncover the source of the pain. She was a victim and needs help understanding that. Your daughter’s boundaries were violated at a very young age, the age in which gender identity is being formed. She is and will be confused about who she is, her worth, and her value before God and others.

        With no understanding of boundaries, she is vulnerable to all men, including when visiting with her father. It needs to be supervised visits for her protection. Protect her now and let her know she is worth protecting.

        Bring the sin to light to cast out the darkness. Bring the sin to light and let the consequences happen.

  17. S. on April 21, 2016 at 12:19 am

    I have never been in you or your daughter’s situation. It is a nightmare I cannot imagine and feel hesitant to comment on.

    Again, I have never had anything like this happen to me, I wanted to agree with everyone about how important it is for you to believe her. This fall I decided to finally tell my parents about my husband’s abuse. Their minimizing response and lack of concern completely floored me. It was such an painful betrayal that seriously damaged our relationship and me.

    Now your daughter is only eight. The abuse committed against her by your husband is incomparably more grevious than anything my husband ever did to me. Your daughter is much, much vulnerable than I am as an adult woman. And at her age, you, as her mother, play a far more central role in her life and emotional well-being than my mother does in mine. I cannot imagine how completely and utterly it would devastate a child to be abused like that and have their mother not believe and protect them. I cannot say that enough. I really cannot. I think it would devastate her personhood to a point where it would almost be erased.

    I do not think that you have to hate your husband, but I don’t think loving someone means that you stay with them after they molest a child. I know this is very, very hard to face, especially given how much your son loves your husband, but nonetheless, your daughter cannot live with him. The consequences need to fall on your husband, not her.

    I am so sorry, for you and your daughter, and what this means for your family. I really am.

  18. Stacey on April 21, 2016 at 1:53 am

    As a mother, I find it impossible to understand how another mother could feel feelings of “love” toward ANYONE who harmed her child. An animal mother will furiously defend her children against a predator at the expense of risking her own life. A mother who doesn’t instinctively behave the same way concerns me.

    Leslie has written in one of her books, “Genuine caring values the other person’s happiness, WELL-BEING and goodness.”

    The Bible tells us that children are gifts from God. We are to treat them as such, therefore we are to value them. If you value something it would seem reasonable that you would be protective of it so not sure why this mother isn’t compelled to protect her gift.

    Thank for you suggesting to this mother that she seek therapy herself as her husband, though severely warped, is not the only unhealthy person in this relationship. Isn’t a mother who chooses a man who has abused her children over her children just as responsible for the sin as the one who commits the act?

    Though I was never sexually abused, my mother often “choose” the man in her life after her divorce from my father over her children when they behaved in questionable ways. One man made really inappropriate comments that were sexually explicit even in my mother’s presence and took my mother and I to see an indy film that was very graphic as to perverse types of sex (I was only a teenager at the time). The whole time I kept hoping my mom would stand up to him and “protect” me from these uncomfortable situations even though by that time I really could’ve myself…still wanted that feeling of being protected…valued…loved! Another man of hers threatened me physically for parking in the driveway of HER house that my father built, that he was just shacking up and living with her in on her dime (he wasn’t working while he lived with her). This time I called her to seek her protection and defense and she sided with him…until years later she admitted that his daughter had been witness to the incident and had supported my recount of the incident though no apology or responsibility followed the admission.

    Needless to say my mother and I still aren’t close and I’m now in my 40’s. I have only recently forgiven her for not actively loving me, but not reconciled because she has yet to take responsibility for these types of actions or repented in any way.

    If this mother doesn’t take some repentant action quickly with her daughter, it will do long lasting damage to her daughter. As a daughter, just feeling unloved/not valued by her parent(s) is abuse in my opinion in and of itself, let alone adding another abuse such as sexual abuse.

    Heartbreaking from both this mother’s/daughter’s perspective…

    Lord, I lift up this woman to you that you may remove the vail that is preventing her from seeing the truth and to change her heart so that she may know true love. And Lord, I pray that you as her Heavenly Father and Jehovah Rapha, protect and heal this little girl.

  19. Ann L on April 21, 2016 at 8:44 am

    1. I agree that the mom should take her daughter’s allegations very seriously — but we don’t have much context here. The child is probably older than 8, and may even be a teen. We don’t know other family dynamics, and we don’t know if the daughter has been coached by another person to make these accusations.

    I’m not in favor of “believe the children.” I am in favor of listening extremely closely and drilling down for the truth. Investigate the allegation in its entire context.

    The mother of our step granddaughter convinced the girl to accuse her father of molestation. The courts and social workers found the charges to be false. Our former son-in-law has adopted our two biological granddaughters, and the three girls live with him. These accusations and the hearing was held almost 2 years ago and the girls are all teens now. The entire family participates in various combinations of therapy, and two of the girls have spent time as in-patients. It sounds as though they are all nuts. But no — rather, they are learning healthy coping skills, how to deal with that highly dysfunctional mother, how not to make destructive allegations, etc. I am so grateful that they all have these gifts of assistance.

    So that’s one perspective.

    2. Another perspective: In my family our grandfather molested some of us. 100% we believe that he molested our mother when she was a child. 100% we know that our mother’s childhood was horrible, and that her father was a huge part of that.

    Our mother knew that her father was molesting some of us. She warned us to never trust him. She frequently alluded to what was happening. But she never had the courage to face it. As adults, we forgive her for that. We look at where she was, the incredible lack of support (this was in the 60s and 70s), and the fact that she was a very damaged person. We mourn the way she was treated and the fears that she carried with her throughout her life.

    My point is that for her, naming what was happening to us would have forced her to name what had happened to her. Based on my own experience, I realize that sometimes we fear that we are unable to survive the truth.

    (years of therapy, thank you very much, has gotten me to this state of understanding. I have not yet been able to, nor am I yet interested in extending this grace and forgiveness to our grandfather and uncles even though I know enough about their respective histories to know that they were also extremely damaged. Maybe someday…)

    3. All that said, yes, absolutely yes I agree that the right thing for the mother in this story to do is take her daughter seriously. It’s terrifying because it means the loss of all one’s dreams for the future we imagined. The worst thing the mother can do is participate in a family culture of secrecy.

    Thanks for listening.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 21, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Ann, there is definitely times when a parent tries to alienate another parent by trying to get the child to make false accusations against one parent however in this mother’s question, she was aghast at the daughter’s claims and didn’t want to believe the totality of them. She wanted to rationalize that it was only once and it was an “accident”. That’s not what the child stated. The child is 8, not a teenager (at least according to the mother’s question that I just received a week ago), so I have no reason to go with version # 1. Also when authorities “drill” a child, a child may recant because they are afraid they are responsible for “ruining” the family and it’s their fault for the abuse in the first place (which they are often told). So a child needs to be questioned carefully – not interrogated – by wise people who can discern whether the child’s story fits with a grooming pattern of a pedophile and observe her non-verbal behavior etc and other things as they ask her to tell her story in a supportive and safe environment.

      • Ann L on April 21, 2016 at 2:07 pm

        Yes Leslie I agree with your points.”Drill” was a poor word choice. A way of saying this that more accurately reflects my intended statement might be “I am in favor of listening extremely closely and. Investigating the allegation in its entire context.”

        Ideally the investigation would be conducted with extreme sensitivity for all concerned. I am aware of the bias that is introduced by phrasing, body language, vocal quality, etc.

        Bottom line, I believe that the allegations should be treated seriously, in context, and with no intention of letting bad behavior be overlooked.

  20. Leonie on April 21, 2016 at 11:38 am

    That is my question too? How can her mother choose her husband over protecting her own daughter who has come to her and disclosed the abuse. Does she not recognize how dangerous this man is?
    I think she must be blind to other truths about him too or maybe he is abusive with her and she is scared to do what’s right because of the harm she will suffer if she does.
    The thing is, it will only turn into a bigger mess with her still needing to get out of the relationship anyway. If she is staying in the relationship she is ignoring her daughter to everyone’s peril! The daughter will not want a relationship with her when she is older if she does not speak up and remove her from this evil man now!
    I hope the gravity of the situation hits home and this mother springs into action regardless of how it is going to mess up her life. There is no excuse, putting your hands on the private parts if an 8 year old girl is no accident.

  21. Connie on April 21, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Funny how one reads this and something pops up in your mind. My problem was ‘same but different’. I must have been around 10, and my cousin was 12 or 13. He tried touching me inappropriately and got away with a bit but then I had a funny feeling this was not right. I knew nothing at all about sex, and of course he said since we were cousins it was fine. Then he took me on a bike ride into the bush, stopped and started grabbing for me. I hopped on the bike and took off. Then he bragged to the other cousins that he’d actually ‘done it’ with me, with my consent. I was confused because I didn’t even know what ‘it’ was, but obviously it was dirty because of the way the other cousins treated me. Well word got around to mom. She asked me if he’d ‘done something’ to me. I said no, and could tell she didn’t believe me. That put a real distance between us that never was resolved, and I wish I would have talked to her about it when I was grown. She died when I was 26. Sure wish she’d have lived longer. Why did she not believe me?

    • Hannah on April 22, 2016 at 2:05 am

      I am so sorry that you suffered at the hands of your cousin. It is a shame that it put a distance between you mom. It sounded from what you wrote that she believed that he was responsible for having done something to you and that she didn’t blame you (which is good and accurate way to see it).
      It is possible that your mom didn’t believe you when you said he didn’t do something to you because of the suspicious events and conversations that came to her attention. I can’t go back and see how she responded to you so I don’t really know but I wonder if she always in her heart believed he molested you. And it was true that he molested you. No matter what exactly he got away with by touching you inappropriately. It was inappropriate and that constitutes sexual abuse. It isn’t normal or healthy for a cousin to attempt and to brag about having sexual relations with his cousin. It is a sign that molestation possibly has gone on behind the scenes. It a sign at least that he has been exposed to pornography or possibly seen inappropriate relations (sex) in real life. Your mom probably recognized that what he did and said was not appropriate and wanted to know what he had done to you. It is hard because you cannot go back and have those important conversations with her. Praying that you find healing. “Sexual Abuse is the exploitation of a minor for the sexual gratification of another person through sexual contact or sexual interaction. Abusive sexual contact can be described on a descending continuum and includes intercourse, attempted intercourse, oral sex, genital contact, breast contact, intentional sexual touching of buttocks or thighs, simulated intercourse, touching of clothed breasts, and sexual kissing. Abusive sexual interactions includes deliberate exposure of a minor to pornography or sexual activity and exhibitionism. This graphic definition is necessary because many people mistakenly believe sexual abuse intercourse, or at least genital contact, with a minor.” Mending the Soul by Steven R. Tracy

  22. Hadassah on April 21, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Interesting timing that I just saw this post. My daughter asked me this evening if its normal for children to be sexually abused. My heart aches. It’s too long a story for the comment section but I will say, Unfortunately here in PA a parent is not considered a mandated reporter. And when a child is young and/or there is a divorce occurring, it can be difficult for people to HEAR the truth. Meanwhile the child suffers. It is my hope that there would be more qualified workers in the investigative area and they would improve the interviewing techniques as well as knowing how to spot a sexual offender and/or pedophile. And I agree with your comment Leslie that NOT being believed is often just as bad or worse than the crime!
    And oh I have much to say about how the church often mishandles this. People need to wake up and realize that abuse IS occurring right under our noses & about 90% of victims KNOW their offender.
    And one thing I would like to see happen is that the records in the state database be shared in a federal database.
    Matthew 18:6-7 often came to mind during those difficult times, but it would also be nice to have Justice in the judicial system. It’s horrible for a victim of a crime to have the offender walking around freely.
    My heart goes out to the child mentioned in the article & I pray that the mother uses wisdom.

  23. Hadassah on April 21, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Sorry I didn’t quite reply to question asked. To the writer, please stand by your daughter. It’s invaluable. I assure you it’s critical. It will impact her very negatively if you don’t believe her and take action.
    And yes it’s hard to grieve a marriage. I won’t kid you, it’s not easy. Lean on God and your true supporters. One of my concerns was how my child would view God had I stayed. God Bless you and your family!!

  24. Michele on April 23, 2016 at 12:29 am

    Please, protect your daughter! Assume the worst until it’s proven otherwise. These allegations don’t “randomly” appear in most 8 yr olds. I’ve recently trained to become a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and just started in this new position. The affects of the unbelief, the child receives, are sooo devastating! To finally get the nerve to disclose such incidences took courage beyond what we can even imagine. The confusion and mixed messages she is receiving must be horrific. She not only feels “guilt” that she did something to cause this, but she also realizes “telling” her truth could break up her own family. The “shame” can be paralyzing. Having to tell it over and over again, with nothing but disbelief, should make her want to yell at her mother. She’s not trying to be disrespectful, she’s trying to be heard. This is the only way she may be able to express the deep feelings/hurt she is experiencing. Get some serious counseling for mom and both children. Don’t assume that the son will be unscathed(or is not being accidentally touched), he may try to protect “his buddy”(dad). I hate that our world has come to this, a place where so many children(and families) are being abused, but trying to “pretend” it’s not there doesn’t change the reality! Prayers for this family.

  25. SANE on April 23, 2016 at 6:32 am
  26. Penny on May 10, 2016 at 9:10 am

    This exact story happened to me. I was molested as a child by my dad at age 8 also. I told my mom and she did nothing. Never was mentioned again. My dad only continued to molest me and told me if you tell your mother, it will be all your fault if we divorce. What a burden I had to carry all alone to make everyone happy. My dad ended up molesting 3 other siblings only 2 siblings escaped the torture. If my mom would have acted when I told her, others would not have been hurt. My parents finally divorced when another sibling was able to press charges and he went to jail for 9 months. My mom is sorry and has asked to be forgiven. I have forgiven her but it has taken a life time for our relationship to heal and trust her. She wishes she could have been a stronger person. She has always been concerned about what people think of her. She should have been more concerned what her children think of her because that’s what matters most. I pray this mom will do the right thing and leave her husband. He will only lie and continue to molest and be smarter about it.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:39 am

      Thanks for sharing your story. I’m sure your mom does wish she could have been a stronger person to stand up for her children. It’s important that all women develop that CORE strength so that they are not overly dependent upon a man, even at the expense of their own children.

  27. Suzie on May 10, 2016 at 9:36 am

    After reading some of the comments above, it spurred me to write. I am 57 years old and about a year ago, my mother asked me if her father had molested me when I was 4. I have no memory of it, but my choices and actions over the course of my life indicate that this may have just happened. It was like it was the missing puzzle piece that made so much sense of the puzzle of my life. When I asked her about it, demanded to know why she thought that, asking for details, she gave me excuse after excuse-I misheard her, I didn’t understand, times were different then, etc. I do know that he was a mean drunk, and had abused her from stories that I have been told. It has put a big rift in our relationship, which she can’t understand.

    Why do I write this for all of you to see? Two things-It is about exposing and healing what has happened in my past, so that I can grow and move on, to be used of God. Secondly, it is an attempt to share that even one small incident, however minor, left hidden, can cause huge consequences in the future. I want what has happened in my life to matter, to be able to help young girls and women in ways that I never had.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Suzie, thanks for sharing. Yes these things leave a huge impact on children, and I’m sure as God opens your memory, healing will come.

  28. janet on May 10, 2016 at 9:47 am

    As a child this happened to me to. Not being believed, protected and cared for was worse than the situation itself. believe your daughter. don’t trade her hurt and pain and betrayal so that you can be comfortable and relieved by not believing her. Your betrayal is far worse than what happened with molester. Healing from having your will completely taken away by a person who should never betray you is a wound that is difficult to work through. I still have scars from the betrayal. Please don’t do that t o your daughter. betrayal to your daughter is not worth a fantasy.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:47 am

      You are so right.

  29. Dawn on May 10, 2016 at 10:31 am

    At the age of 12 years old my mom’s boyfriend inappropriately touched me…When l told her about it she said you most probably deserved it….My mom died along time ago and it took me awhile to forgive her….

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:47 am

      I’m so sorry that happened. That’s the worst kind of betrayal.

  30. Lisa on May 10, 2016 at 10:45 am

    My experience and with my daughter was emotional/verbal/psychological. We had over 14 years of it. I was brainwashed and lived to paralyzing fear. I thought if I could just get her graduated and off to college things would be bearable. She did go to college but it only accelerated the control. I have been separated for about a 1 1/2 yrs. the divorce has been filed and me and my kids are safe. I have been in counseling and my daughter deals with anxiety. I feel responsible because I did not protect her as her only protection and mother. I regret that deeply. I knew in my gut thinks were wrong but the”summit” thing was miss taught. and I didn’t protect myself or my kids. I pray we will do a better job with that. I know I will. God was not pleased with me. But, he is now. Still “going” through but I trust God will provide an meet all my needs. Thank you Jesus……

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Thanks for sharing Lisa – I’m sure your daughter is grateful that you now are getting stronger and realize what you could have done. That will be a better example for her to follow as she becomes a parent. Women – mom’s – we need to model what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:13: “Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.” Do you see? Strength and courage can go with also being loving. That is CORE.

  31. Rebecca on May 10, 2016 at 10:48 am

    A writer friend of mine has written a book about this subject as her daughter was also abused by her husband. “Carried by Grace.” Check out her website at DebraLButterfield.com.

    • Linda on August 19, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Thank you Rebecca for mentioning the book although my children were abused many years ago and I believed them and took action I still reel from the affects and how it affected me personally grieving the innocence they lost and the many areas of my life that were affected. The ability to trust myself and others. Thank you again for mentioning the book, I am sure many could benefit from the sharing of another who admits it still has some affect on her 20 years later.
      Thank you again for sharing and I love Leslie and the insight and understanding she gives regarding Scripture opening understanding that has caused confusion regarding Gods’ stand on His Word.
      Give my best to your writer friend.
      Linda Mullin

  32. Susan on May 10, 2016 at 10:49 am

    I was not sexually abused by my father, but my sister was. All 6 of my siblings were verbally and physically abused by my father our entire lives and still are if we are in relationship with him. My mother justifies her weakness in staying with him by down playing the abuse and not supporting her children . .especially her daughters. This has caused great damage to me and all my siblings. Your number one job as a mother is to protect your daughter. I pray this woman will heed Leslie’s advice.

    • Connie on May 10, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      Sad how satan twists things however he can. My case is the opposite. I was abused by my husband, and the children were, too, though not as blatantly (and his abuse of me was behind closed doors) but they stay in denial and justify it that they want a relationship with us both. Yet their relationship with me is a ‘polite distance’ because they have believed so much of what their father has said to them. I know if I tell the truth, they will take it back to him and he will batt his baby blues in innocence and say, “What? I would never do/say that!” And then he would smile indulgently and say, “But you know, you have to respect your mother anyway, even if she doesn’t understand. You know?” Oh, how I hate that feeling of being tolerated because, you know, God says so.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Thanks for sharing Susan. It is so sad to see a mom not validating her children’s pain and hiding in her own weaknesses.

  33. Refocus-Reclaim on May 10, 2016 at 11:04 am

    I cannot begin to understand your pain and confusion. I wasn’t blessed with a child of my own. I will tell you this though, my “children” all have 4 feet and are rather hairy, but if anyone harmed them – I would most certainly be in their face… no matter who or how big they were.

    Children are so much more valuable. God chose YOU to be this little girls mama because He knows you are the best mama for her. That said, you have a lot to process, and it will take you time. But your daughter will be forever scarred unless she KNOWS she has someone she loves in her corner. I pray that you have the courage it takes to be that for her, and let her talk through the awfulness with you.

    These stories shared here should give you courage to do the hardest thing you’ve likely ever had to do… give your daughter the chance of a normal, healthy life – unlike so many others. Know that you now have a boatload of people praying for you, and remember Who will carry you when you feel you cannot do any more… He is always there.

    I would ask you to think about this: Who is it you are serving, who is first in your life: God – or this man? Which one is most important to you? That is something I continually have to ask myself in order to gather up the courage for that “next step”.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Very true. Thanks.

  34. tina on May 10, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    I beg this Mom to believe her daughter. My first memory is of my brother touching me under the covers and the next day hating me and treating me really mean. And then my cousins asking me to go play under their beds. As a consequence i would ask my girl cousin to let me “play” with her too ( she was younger than me and her siblings ) . A life of promiscuity was a result of those early sexual experiences. I still hurt for what was done to me and also for what i did. Where were our Mothers while this was happening?

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:54 am

      Thanks for sharing. Yes mom’s need to be alert to “sibling” play that is inappropriate.

  35. Debra on May 10, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Leslie, a friend told me about your post and, knowing I have experienced this, recommended it.

    Your advice to your reader is sound. Her situation is nearly identical to my own, right down to the “he touched me 3 times.” But in fact, when the whole truth came out he had been molesting her for 9 years. It’s highly likely this woman’s husband has done much more than what the daughter is aware of.

    My daughter was 12 at the time, and carried more anger toward me than toward her step-father. She was angry because I had failed to protect her. All that was 22 years ago. She has forgiven me, and we enjoy a deep, loving relationship today. The key to that restored relationship was believing her, ensuring her future safety, and asking for her forgiveness. I wrote a book specifically for mothers in this situation, praying that God would use my experience to help them.

    This mother must face this head on, support her daughter, and insist that her husband get appropriate counseling either while in jail (if that’s the case) or whether an investigation is presently ongoing. Her daughter’s well-being comes first.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:55 am

      Thanks for sharing your story Debra. I’m sure many mom’s will be encouraged.

    • Barb on April 8, 2021 at 2:04 pm

      What is the name of the book you wrote?

  36. M on May 10, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    I was in the similiar situation at the time she was a teenager i stayed in the marriage I confronted him once when he put his hand on her bottom and said it was an accident now as an adult she said he would walk in on her when she was getting dressed we did divorce eventually but not because of that she held this against me for a long time for not leaving him I have been able to make amends with her but I should have left him then it hurt my daughter that I didn’t take her side and protect her from him. Your daughter was very brave to tell you it took alot of courage if you ignore it she may stop telling you anything she will loose your trust your husband needs professional help don’t feel guilty for separating from him protect your daughter

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 7:59 am

      M – hindsight is always 20/20 but thanks for sharing this with our mother. Hopefully she will make the right choice now.

  37. Judy on May 10, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I remarried 6 years ago in August. By December, I found out my husband had been convicted of 3rd degree sex offense. I had a young granddaughter who visited often and I was constantly at her side. I was torn whether as a Christian I should stay married or not but I did not want to wake up one day and it be too late because he abused my granddaughter. So I ended the marriage. It took 18 months for me to get him out of my house. No one knows the truth but my sister and two friends but I have had to live with that guilt and embarrassment of getting divorced again. So, this was a real blessing for me to know I did the right thing. Thank you Leslie.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 14, 2016 at 8:00 am

      Judy – you did the right thing. He lied to you by not disclosing his problem. Had he told, you could then have made a better choice. Since he did not, I think you were wise in not risking him doing anything to any of the children in your life.

  38. Debby on May 10, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    No kid is going to be willing to face the humiliation and possible rejection by those closest to him/her for the sake of a lie. You have no reason to NOT believe her and yet, because of your love for HIM, you automatically trust HIM, not her. He is lying and minimizing, bottom line. Sometimes it seems impossible to face such a painful truth but ONLY the truth will set you free to make the kind of difficult decisions that are best for your daughter, and honestly, for yourself. My prayers are with you as you walk this valley, heading for the light of God’s truth and healing.

  39. Jean on May 11, 2016 at 2:01 am

    Wow! Great feedback and article.

    My Grandfather tried to rape my after I slept over & my Grandma went to church & let me sleep in. I was lucky and got away. My uncle who lived upstairs had to tell me how to unlock the door I was so scared. He told me to get on my bike and go home and tell my mom. I did. My mom commented that nothing happened & if I had gone to church it wouldn’t of happened. Some months down the road Grandpa was put in a nursing home for dementia so that was my mom’s other reason… I have hated my legs all my life because that’s how he started to try to rape me. I have felt like a shadow in life existing but of no value and always feel shame. MOTHERS LISTEN & PROTECT your kids! I was married as a virgin to a man 5 yrs older than me when I was 17. We had dated since I was 14. After a lot of verbal abuse and his alcoholism we divorced & now I have a wonderful husband but I never feel like enough or of value, or that I’m good enough for him to stay with me, even though he reassures me every day that he loves me and won’t leave me… I’m very angry at my mom for her response to me & actually blamed myself until I was 33 and went to a counselor who said. Did your grandma lock the door when she went to church and why was there a knife in the door(which was an extra way to lock the door from the inside). Your grandfather planned this. He waited till Grandma left locked the door with a deadbolt lock, door handle lock and the knife in the frame…, and came after me… It wasn’t my fault but the shame and dirtiness and lack of value I have even at age 58 has never gone away. This article and the responses shows me why I feel that way. Thanks!

  40. Sandy on May 16, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    Sorry for your situation, Connie. It is difficult when your children don’t believe their dad could have treated you badly. I was molested as a child and never told others till as an adult. Am now in an emotionally destructive marriage and find it extremely difficult because friends and family don’t seem to believe it because to them, “he’s such a great guy”.

  41. Stacy on May 19, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    I certainly don’t want to come across as unloving, but I find it deeply disturbing that this question is even being asked. I don’t care how great a husband and father you think he is, you have a responsibility to your daughter. I started being molested when I was 3 years old by a trusted friend, bottled it up until I was 14, and became so physically ill from the trauma that I have now been living with a chronic illness for 23 years and am on disability. I have probably sought more prayer and counseling than most people in my situation but my body cannot forget and still has not been able to heal. I have struggled with suicidal feelings most of my life as a result of my abuse. When I finally did tell my parents at the age of 19, they didn’t want to talk about it and have never once asked me about it. My parents were neglecting me when I was being abused, so I do feel that they failed to protect me and I can’t tell even begin to tell you how it feels when those who are supposed to love you most fail to keep you safe when they could. It is the ultimate abandonment. This is NOT about you or your husband. This is about your daughter and you owe it to her to do the right thing for her. I wholeheartedly believe that God will honor and bless you for putting your daughter first.

  42. Jean on May 20, 2016 at 12:49 am


  43. Irene on November 15, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    Apologies in advance for the long post. Thank you for the educational resources you provide for people like me. They are very relevant to my situation and easy to understand. I have reread your book multiple times. I wanted to share a little bit of my story. I am ashamed and feel like I am the world’s worst mother. I have been married to my husband for 17 years. I left him several times. My husband was physically abusive for the first few years of our marriage, but I left him and filed charges. We reconciled shortly after and then he never hit me again. I thought the abuse had ended until our 10th year of marriage when a crisis hit our family and I learned about emotional abuse. My husband was very possessive and jealous, he would monitor and track me, he would isolate me, control where I go and who I see, he controlled all the money, he monopolized my time and does not take on his share of the responsibilities. He would call me names, belittle and humiliate me and he abused me sexually (at the time I did not know coercive sex, or having sex with me while I was asleep was wrong). Additionally, he has lots of issues with finding and keeping work, and I have been the sole bread winner often.

    I left him in 2010, because my daughter who was 11 at the time, said he showed her pornography. I called the police and kicked him out, but the police officer did not believe us and nothing happened. My husband came to the door wailing loudly, laying prostrate on the floor in front of the kids. He begged them to let him back, they begged me and my daughter to let him back, and we did, we let him back. I kind of went into a weird numb place, where I pretended like everything was okay. I did that for 3 years and I am doing it now.

    The last time I left him was October 2014, I was beginning to heal, we were no contact for 2 months and then I had to start sharing custody with him and had to see him in December 2014. After seeing him, I called him crying telling at him about how much he had hurt me. Then in March 2015 we began talking again and by April we were seeing each other again, by September he moved back in. He appeared to have changed a lot. He did not change anything accept the way he abuses. He no longer abuses me overtly. He still controls my existence, but now his tactics are harder to explain as they are more covert. He stopped calling me names but he still controls my entire life, isolating me from everyone.

    Besides this he has started keeping secrets, I am not allowed to see his bank account. He hides his phone and will not show me his check stubs. He talks bad about my friends, comments on my clothing and belittles me with minute put downs that are hard to identify or explain. When I question his weird behavior. He says I am the one who is abusive.

    Long story short, I want to break this bond I have with him, I just started counseling again. The next time I leave, I want to do so for good. In September, I told him I wanted to separate again, but he talked me into letting him stay. He gives me guilt trips when I ask him to leave, saying that I was making him homeless. I will have money to move January, but I do not know if I can wait that long.

    I feel horrible because, I did not give my daughter the support she needed. I was drowning in my own pain and was not strong enough to stay away for good. I pray the Lord will give my daughter justice and validation. I feel so confused and torn and I am afraid that I will disappoint God if I do not stay.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 19, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      You will not disappoint God. God doesn’t love your husband more than he loves you and God hates covert abuse as much as overt abuse. Get yourself back into counseling is a great idea. Stick with it until you are strong and whole.

  44. Rescued on September 29, 2019 at 11:26 pm

    What started out as “accidental” touching of my daughter by her father turned into two years of frequent rape. My daughter finally got up the courage to tell someone, who called the police. The police told me, and I took my three children and left that very night, never to return. My now ex-husband is in prison for his crimes and my children and I are safe and healing.
    Because I believed her, validated her, took her to counseling and because she was surrounded by so much support of other people who believed her, my daughter is doing amazingly well. A year later, at 15, she refuses to walk in the shame she once did when he blamed her for all of it, and she’s not afraid to tell her story, hoping it will help others find the courage to tell someone.

    I lost the man I loved, but he had become something evil, and was no longer the man I knew. I know my daughter wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn’t believed her. She would have killed herself in despair, like she tried many times before she told someone

  45. Robin on December 9, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    I am in a similar situation, but I wonder, when you say he should not be with the daughter unsupervised, how can I go about that? My husband currently has only supervised visits with my daughters but the supervisors are our friends and that can’t last forever. My lawyer says this will not continue (temporary orders), and especially since he passed a lie detector test about the whole situation. But even though he passed it, I don’t believe it was accurate. My daughter would not lie and make something like that up. Please help me figure out what to do. I could go back to living with him so that I would always be there to protect my daughters, but I could never be intimate with him again.

  46. Barbara on April 8, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Similar situation though daughter who was molested as a child by my husband, her stepfather is now 38. She claims I “knew”. She just revealed her truth this year. She was concerned for grandchildren.

    • Shannon on August 22, 2021 at 1:00 am

      Similar for me too. My daughter is 29 and just now revealing this to me in the midst of having huge marital problems. We’ve been married for 33 years and I finally got fed up with the controlling, anger, negativity and bad attitude towards life. We’ve been fighting a lot and I’m just done. He’s trying to change and then my daughter tells me this and I promised her I wouldn’t say anything to him because she isn’t ready for that. I completely understand. It disgusts me and makes me so angry that I didn’t know and didn’t protect her. It just puts me in a situation with my marriage that I don’t know how to handle when he pressures me for another chance and I cant be honest and say why. I’m so struggling.

  47. Angela Lambert on May 14, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    I’m looking for a book or something that may help my daughter. Her husband is about to be indicted for molesting her niece, who is 7 years old. They have three children together (6, 4, and 2 years old). She has filed for divorce but Texas won’t let her move during the ‘temporary divorce order”. He has supervised visitation and I worry that she is letting herself believe that maybe he’s not that bad………..Divorce lawyers are no help, they only seem to be more interested in him continuing his high paying job. She is very Godly but I worry she is just giving up.

  48. braincavity on June 27, 2021 at 5:53 pm

    I am going through this currently. I am about 1.5 weeks since I found out my husband has been sexually harassing and trying to entice my 12 year old daughter into sick, sexual things. I found out because my daughter brought me her phone because she had locked herself out by accident, and I can remotely unlock it from my phone through our carrier’s Family Link app. As I was logging into the app, I noticed a lot of text message activity on my daughter’s phone, and I know she is not a texter. I pulled up her messages and felt ill when I saw my husband’s name and number, and the sexual messages he had been sending her for months. My daughter either didn’t respond to the messages, or said no. When I asked her about it, she said she had ignored it, but that he kept messaging her inappropriate things. I immediately knew from the messages that our lives were going to permanently change. First, I knew this man was a predator and our marriage was over. Second, my daughter and I were going to need some help like counseling. Third, the police needed to be called. I called 911 right then and there, and the police came. After they left, my daughter disclosed that my husband had begun waking her up at night and trying to solicit sexual type things from her and she told him no. I immediately called the police again. We packed as many clothes as we could, the dog, and the cat, and immediately moved in with my mom. Detectives came and went, DFS came and went, and my daughter had to do a forensic interview the following day. Now we are just waiting to hear from law enforcement on the next step. They said he committed felonies and that he will have to register as a sex offender. I look around at my life, we are sleeping in my mom’s living room. I haven’t been able to work. I am going back to work 2 days a week next week to try and get some money coming in. This is a nightmare. My daughter has been really brave. I have little to no money and am planning on a bankruptcy, probably. But in the end, my daughter is safe and getting support and help.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2021 at 10:37 pm

      Hey sweet sister, you are brave. One of the most damaging things to victims of sexual abuse is that they are not believed or supported by those they thought would help them.So you are ON IT. You have supported your daughter. INvestigaged things. Called the police. Yes your husband may have behaved treacherously, but #1, your daughter was able to continuously say NO to him. Good for her. You raised her to understand she has the right to say no. Second, you supported her when you discovered this behavior. You validated your daughter’s right to say NO to unwanted sexual suggestions and also called your husband to greater accountability for his inappropirate behavior. This will be incredibly validating to her. This is no easy road but kuddos for you for taking the right steps forward.

  49. leighann on July 1, 2021 at 8:55 am

    I feel the pain of this mom. I am in a similar situation. My daughter says he asked her to sit on his lap and she looked over and saw his hand on his private area and part of it was sticking out of his boxers. Fast forward to our separation- which is when she told me about this, a police report, CPS investigation, as well as a lie detector test for him, which he passed. I think he can pass because he believes his own lies. But my dilemma is that our divorce (pending for 15 months), is almost final, and he is being believed, which means he will likely get 50/50 custody of the children. What do I do? I’m worried that more things will happen, and now that she has spoken out against him, he will threaten her and make her life miserable while she is with him. He is very sneaky and manipulative. Do I stay married to him? For my children’s sake, do I stay so that I can always be present where they are with him, and he wouldn’t have alone time with them? or Do I divorce, and pray that nothing else happens, and make it a more peaceful situation at least 50% of the time with split custody.? Also, should I push for him to be investigated further.? He was never questioned by the PD or cps. They wrote it off as a mom, who in the middle of divorce, was trying to gain custody… so basically they thought I must have put thoughts in her head in order to go after him. That is so far from the truth. The fact that we were separated, is what allowed my daughters to all speak more freely about their father, and that is why she spoke up about it only after we were separated. Had we still been living with him, she would have been afraid to say anything.

  50. Roxxy on October 16, 2021 at 11:52 pm

    Hello everyone,
    My daughter recently spoke out about her elementary teacher (2grade) had molested her a couple times 😣 she is now 10. It’s been 3-4 yrs since this happened I went right away to make a police report but the problem is the school she use to attend was only a two year program since she was nonverbal and needed more close attention with learning. The second year came they had advised me she’ll have a male teacher BUT he was just the home room teacher. We had constant meetings with only those that was teaching her but I never got to meet this man! It KILLS ME inside the fact I don’t have a image in my head on how he looks 😠 I truly wish she told me when this was happening because I would of rapped my hands around his neck and done some damage! I done some research of my own and right now no man is attending the school as a teacher I went on there website searching through pictures and as of yet she hasn’t spotted him! I need help on what are the next steps …

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