I just discovered that my ex-husband has been sexually abusing my 12-year old daughter. What do I do? I am scared and very angry.
Here are my thoughts:
- Immediately report this matter to the police. If there is any physical evidence of the abuse that you can readily put your hands on take it with you.
- Cooperate fully with the police. Your daughter will almost certainly need a medical examination. Cooperate with that effort.
- Follow any reasonable instruction from the police department and the medical personnel.
- If there is sufficient evidence the police will probably arrest your ex-husband immediately. You will then be safe to go home.
- Talk to a lawyer about getting a court order keeping your ex-husband away from the house, you and the children of the event he makes bond and is able to get out of jail. If there is any visitation it should be supervised. You may also have to seek the help of the court where you were divorced, so you should contact the lawyer who represented you in the divorce and seek his or her help.
- Get your daughter (and perhaps your other children) counseling. If you cannot afford private counseling the area rape trauma and sexual abuse center will give you a list of names of counselors who work for reduced rates. Some centers even provide some level of free counseling. You may need counseling yourself.
- You may wish to talk to a lawyer about filing a civil lawsuit against your husband. Sexual abuse is not only a crime but can also result in civil liability. Your divorce lawyer may or may not be the right lawyer to help you with a civil lawsuit – it depends on what experience he or she has with this type of claim.