My Daughter Has Been Sexually Abused By Her Step-Father. What Do I Do?

 I just discovered that my husband has been sexually abusing my 12-year old daughter.  What do I do?   I am scared and very angry.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Leave the house with your daughter and any of your other children and 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 husband immediately.  You will then be safe to go home.
  • Do not bail your husband out of jail.  Do not give him a chance to act right based on a promise that he will not act this way again.   
  • Talk to a lawyer about getting a court order keeping your 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.   The district attorney will probably be able to help you get this court order. 
  • 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.
  • Talk with a divorce lawyer.  You cannot stay married to a man who will harm your children.
  • You may wish to talk to a lawyer about filing a lawsuit against your husband.  Sexual abuse is not only a crime but can also result in civil liability.   
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