We think our daughter might have been sexually abused. What should we do?
Q: I think that my ten year old daughter has been sexually assaulted some time ago, maybe even many years ago, it just came to the surface days ago. We found out that she was engaging in sexual acts with children younger and older than her. She has admitted that she will not take no for an answer and that she has been living a huge lie about this and other things for a couple of years. The other thing is playing family member against family member in an attempt to acquire more stuff, as she puts it; she has gone as far as to lie about people to obtain her goals.
Back to the sexual abuse… we have talked to all the parents involved and the other two have the same story and say that she is the one who is the aggressor. The other two girls involved have had little to no contact so making up a story together is not even an issue. The things they are doing are what we consider acts that can only be taught by an older person, some of the things some adults would not do. So if she is the one teaching the other kids, where did she learn it? I need to know what questions to ask to get her to tell us who, what, when, and where…We have already contacted our family doctor but it is hard to tell him what is going on if we do not know what the truth is. The only one she really trusts is me and her dad so help me ask the right questions?!
A: I’m sorry this all has happened but my best advice is to take this to the professionals! I would suggest being very, very careful to limit the questions you ask her as parents and let the experts interview her. I know you say you two are the only two she trusts but this also makes you biased. Without appropriate training most of us ask leading questions and your daughter might say what she thinks you want to hear, or might even say things in a way to get herself off the hook.
I would suggest contacting the local Children Services Agency or the Special Victims Unit of your police department. I know this sounds scary but they are the ones who have the specialized interviewing skills needed in a situation like this. Additionally, children rarely abuse others without having been mistreated or abused themselves and if this is the case you don’t want to affect any evidence that you might need.
The next step is to get your daughter into therapy with someone who also specializes in child abuse (specifically sexual abuse). This could certainly turn into a legal situation but you also need to make sure your daughter has the help and support she needs to get through this: whether she is perpetrator, victim or both. I hope the other parents involved also get help for their kids and you can model this for them if they haven’t. I wish you all luck with this difficult situation.
Counts, H. (2007). We think our daughter might have been sexually abused. What should we do?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 19, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/08/14/we-think-our-daughter-might-have-been-sexually-abused-what-should-we-do/