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Child Abuse

Helping a Victim of Sexual Abuse

03/07/2006

Question:

My daughter began acting up in January. I had been all over her about her failing grades (formally) A`s and about lying and abusing the phone privledges. After going to a local shelter upon her request for help we discovered that she was sexually active with a 20 year old man (she is 14) and she was molested in Texas this summer by a friend of a friend of a friend while visiting her father for her summer mandatory visitation. She said this is what has led to her actions of late. Now she is in a shelter because she needs a break. I talked to the counselors and she can stay for 5 days. She said she wants to be there to get a break. After checking in on Saturday she was able to tell us on Sunday what has been going on. I felt like dying inside. She said she became sexually involved with the 20 year old when she came back home because it helped her forget about the abuse she suffered in Texas. I learned about a daughter that I had been raising for 14 years who seemed like a complete stranger. Today I took her to a crisis counseler (not a rape specialist) and he was awful. He told her she was grieving about the `boyfriend` here and never touched on the subject of the molesting in Texas or her behavior. I think we went to a poor doctor - but I don`t know. My daughter has me bringing her clothing and all these demands to the shelter as though she is in a sorority. She says they `get her` and she can`t talk to me. I am still not fully absorbing what is going on and I don`t know if I should love her to death or find another counselor. The shelter is supposed to be a 5 day non mandatory stay and she told me tonight she wants to stay for a month. She is calling all the shots because I don`t want to upset her and I want her to come to me and let me help her and get the right professional help for the situation. Should I press charges on both men? Should I allow my daughter to continue to call the shots and demands such as pack me more clothes, get me more make up, bring me some snacks, come pick me up for an ice cream but bring me back to the shelter. I am lost. What should I be doing right now to bring a much more productive solution to such a dire situation? I have more but I am tired and confused. Please help me.

Answer:

Your instincts to get psychological help for your daughter sounds like a good way to start.  You might also consider seeking some professional guidance for yourself to help develop your responses to your daughter and to create a workable plan to have her return to your home or to a friend / relative. 

I believe that her sexual assaults / abuse should be reported to the authorities.  The response by law enforcement may be difficult to predict but that should not guide your reporting.  Hopefully your daughter may see your actions as the parental protective response that it is.

For more information:

Go to the Child Abuse health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Robert Shapiro, MD
Professor of Clinical Pediatrics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati