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Daughter Believes Father Molested Her

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From the U.S. My husband was good father but verbally abusive at times and hard on the youngest of our 2 daughters. However, deep down I do not believe that he molested her. She has no memory of actual sexual abuse but says he rubbed her feet sometimes, got too touchy, kissed her neck once and made her feel uncomfortable many times. She says she has memories of going to bed with her clothes on as a child. I put her to bed every night and do not remember this ever. They always had a stormy relationship.

He and I have had issues and are currently separated but I love him and want to try to repair. Our daughter has suggested therapy for her father as well as with him in past, but now hates him and refuses. How do I help her, him, myself? I am not sure I want a divorce and he definitely doesn’t. She has not spoken to him in person or seen him for 2 years. I see her regularly but she believes I am divorcing. She has had extensive therapy trying to get over what she believes was his abuse.

She has been diagnosed with PTSD. He is now going for counseling. Everyone is distraught and our family has been destroyed by this. I walk on eggshells at times with her as the mere mention of his name can cause an outburst — or when she feels calm, she does mention him and then it is ok to talk about him. I never know when I can bring up his name without causing her distress.

My husband is devastated by all of this. He said he feels like a switch flipped and he was suddenly seen as a monster. He always helped her with her car, buying a home, loans, etc. His worst trait was a bad temper. She refuses to speak to anyone in his family, saying they are all hiding secrets of abuse and are enablers.

I am in a very awkward position. I love my daughter more than anything. I can see that her pain is real and very intense. She has been on anti-depressants in the past. If she refuses to sit down with him, or he and myself, I do not know of any other way to help this situation. We have all seen therapists separately. We are all a mess.

Daughter Believes Father Molested Her

Answered by on -

A.

This is terribly painful for all involved. It is far too complicated a situation for me to be helpful with advice from afar.

From my point of view, the most effective and helpful way to untangle such a mess is with a family therapist who is dealing with everyone. Individual therapists can potentially get caught up in the perspective of the individual they are seeing. Your daughter’s therapist’s priority is supporting her. Your husband’s therapist is supporting him. But no one is getting everyone into a room to work it out together.

Your family needs healing as well as the individuals. A family therapist deals with the family system as a whole. The family therapist’s job is to make a place that is safe enough for everyone to speak their mind and heart so that all family members feel heard and supported. When that is done well, it is possible for family members and the family as a whole to heal.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Daughter Believes Father Molested Her

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). Daughter Believes Father Molested Her. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 20, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/01/19/daughter-believes-father-molested-her/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 19 Jan 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.