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My Husband Has Been Abusing My Daughter

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From a woman in the U.S.: I had been with this man for 4 years. He was very kind to my mum, my 11 year old daughter and I. My daughter started giving trouble and we couldn’t identify what was the trigger. One day my mum and I decided to have a sit down with her to isolate the problem and she confessed that my husband, her stepfather was fondling her breasts. I was shocked and called him to ask if he had anything to say about the matter and he did not. I asked him to leave the same night.

He is a good husband and stepfather. This is the first incident that we have encountered along the way. I am getting counseling for my daughter who seems to be doing well and I think I need some as well since I was a victim of grooming as well that I only just confessed to my mum in light of my daughter’s situation.

I want my daughter to be fine but is it wrong to also want my husband to get counseling? He needs help and I think he may have been the only positive male influence my daughter had since she has no relationship with her father. I feel broken on so many levels. Is it wrong to help him? Is it wrong to believe he can be healed and never do something like this again? Can we have any type of relationship that would be in the best interest of the child?

My Husband Has Been Abusing My Daughter

Answered by on -


Thank you for writing. The abuse of a child by a trusted adult is shattering for the whole family. Every relationship in the family is damaged. No one knows who to trust anymore. Your daughter can’t trust her stepdad. She may wonder if she can trust you since, from her point of view, you didn’t see what was happening.

You can’t trust your husband to be alone with your daughter because you have no reason to believe that he won’t do something else to hurt your daughter. Your husband may wonder if he can trust himself. He knows what he did was wrong but he did it anyway. And you may wonder if you can trust your own instincts since you didn’t see this coming.

You were right to ask him to leave. You were right to immediately get counseling for your daughter. And you are right that you need counseling as well. Your own history may have contributed to your inability to recognize that his interest in your daughter was crossing a boundary. Further, It is not unusual for the non-offending parent to both love and hate the abuser. The things you love about your husband are still there but without trust, you know don’t have a relationship. It will take concerted effort on his part for you to let him back into your lives.

I hope your husband is not back in the house. He shouldn’t be. Not until he gets intensive treatment. You have the right and obligation to insist on it if he ever wants to be alone with your daughter again. He has not been a “good father” to your daughter. His violation of the most important boundary calls into question any positive influence he may have had. Your daughter will struggle with that issue with her therapist.

Before you let him back into your and your daughter’s life, you should also go to couples counseling with your husband. Navigating the challenges of rebuilding trust to the point where you truly believe your daughter will be safe is very difficult to do without the support and coaching of a professional.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My Husband Has Been Abusing My Daughter

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

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. (2019). My Husband Has Been Abusing My Daughter. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Dec 2019 (Originally: 31 Dec 2019)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 29 Dec 2019
Published on Psych All rights reserved.