He sexually abused his stepdaughter

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m a recently married 44 year old male. I married this woman a year ago but we have been living together for 4 years. I consider her family, her children, and her grandchildren as my own. This is my concern; all her children live normal, successful lives except her daughter, whom just turned 25 and is the younger of her two brothers. She is a very attractive female, she is attends online-college, is independent, and she lives by herself. She follows the same routine; she has no friends, and spends every weekend at our house. She is very quiet, never talks at all she rather reminds me of a child. Her mother told me that she was diagnosed with manic-depressive but she has never shown any signs of mania, just depression from time to time. I asked her mother about maybe setting her up on a date but her mother told me no, she said her daughter has told her she is a virgin and doesn’t want to date anyone. I asked her mother why she is a virgin she said she doesn’t know but doesn’t like to ask her daughter too many questions. She said her daughter is smart but even as a child had issues socializing. Her teachers will call her mother daily because she refused to play with the other kids, this is partially the reason why they chose not to skip her to another grade.

I really want the best for her that’s why I’m writing but I feel bad about what I did. One afternoon she and I were home together. She was watching T.V. and she had on a baggy t-shirt and a pair of athletic shorts. I couldn’t help myself from looking at her in a way that I shouldn’t. She is much more attractive than her mother is, she had a beautiful natural look, and knowing that she is a virgin made me look at her in a sexual way. I stared at her for a long time and on other occasions as well. Again she and I were home together, she walked into the kitchen to get something to drink and I purposefully cornered her, I touched her inappropriately but she didn’t tell me to stop she sort of froze in a coward position and just looked away. I touched her a couple more times, her breast and vagina; I even took my hands and rubbed her clitoris, and she didn’t stop me. She backed away but she couldn’t go very far and I moved closer she started breathing heavily and I hugged her and kissed her neck she tensed up, and starting shaking a little than the phone ranged and I stopped. I need help; I don’t want to do what I have done. She is irresistible to me. The fact that she didn’t tell me to stop made me think that I could probably go further and get away with it, and because she didn’t tell me to stop makes me think that she wanted it. These thoughts keep going through my head. After that day, she didn’t come over for 2 weekends in a row, than she started coming over again but I noticed that she avoids being left in the house with me. There are still times when we are alone, and I find myself staring at her. I’m afraid I might take it a step further, how do I stop this? What should I do? I’ve never taken advantage of anybody I don’t know what makes her different, even if I’m really taking advantage of her. Will therapy help me? Because she didn’t say no or stop than I didn’t really do anything wrong, did I?

A: Stop kidding yourself. Immediately. We both know you did something very, very wrong. You describe a vulnerable, socially awkward, lonesome, and timid kid and then you want me to support you in taking advantage of her? Please. Her reaction to your sexual abuse is one of a traumatized person, not a willing partner. My guess is that she is terrified of you. She may also be protecting what she thinks is her mother’s happiness by not telling on you.

If you have any moral compass at all, you should take yourself out of the home, tell your wife what happened, apologize profusely to both your wife and your stepdaughter, and get yourself into serious therapy. The girl is NOT irresistible. Apparently your impulses are. You need to take a hard look at why you would exploit someone who clearly is already troubled and decide what kind of man you want to be.

Your wife may not forgive you. You should have a really hard time forgiving yourself. But if you do your therapeutic work and support your wife in getting help for her daughter and herself, there may be a chance to save this marriage. If you don’t love the two of them enough to do the right thing, I see little chance for a happy outcome.

I wish all of you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 May 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). He sexually abused his stepdaughter. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/05/06/he-sexually-abused-his-stepdaughter/