Suspect my toddler is being sexually abused: Don't know what to do?

by Wendy
(Spokane, Washington)

I have a nagging suspicion that my two-and-a-half-year-old may have been, or may be, being sexually abused by her father. We are not together, but he does see her. It's just the way she acts around him sometimes. It's almost like she's uncomfortable around him at times, but at other times she's fine.


Then there was the other day when he was over here. They were in my room playing. He had laid down to take a nap and she went in to see him. The door to my room was open and myself and my older daughter were in the living room (my bedroom is off the living room). It had gotten kind of quiet, so I went to check on them. His back was to me and she was lying on the bed in front of him. When I came in and started talking to her, she looked a little uncomfortable around him. She kept looking from him, to me, then down, almost like she was embarrassed or ashamed. They had been tickling each other before it got quiet. I heard her laughing. I figured things were fine, but felt uneasy, so I went back in the LR then snuck back in a few minutes later. His back was still to the door and she was still in front of him. This time it looked like his hand was up high, by where her diaper was, but when he heard me come in, he moved it down real quick to her knee area. I didn't see where exactly it had been before he moved it. I had suspected him of the same thing a few months ago because I had started letting him take her overnight once in a while, and all of a sudden she started to touch herself more when she was at home. I heard toddlers go through that stage, but I still took her to see the doctor. The doctor said she was fine and that her hymen was still intact, but still, I had my suspicions.

I know he is obsessed with pornography and sex. He's a serial cheater and tends to get girls drunk to have his way with them (I'm speaking from experience). He is also very manipulative and a liar.

I am a survivor of sexual abuse and can't help but think that maybe I'm just over exaggerating things. I hope and pray this has not happened to her, because it would destroy me if it has. I've been so careful to keep my girls safe. I don't bring strangers or men around them, and only leave them with people I know. I also know he keeps trying to get me to get back with him, but I'm not interested and it angers him. He never wanted Mia in the first place, and I'm just worried that he might take his anger and frustration out on her.

What do you suggest I do? I don't want to accuse an honest man of horrible things if they are not true, I just do not know what to think.

Thank you
Wendy

Reply from Darlene – Part 1: Wendy, you are a loving, nurturing and caring mother—I can see that—a loving mother with suspicions based in part on having been sexually abused herself as a child. I'm so very sorry you endured sexual abuse. You didn't deserve it; and now you want to prevent your daughters from suffering the same fate. I can certainly understand your fears and concerns.

Signs are everywhere; and though it is important to keep your daughters safe from harm and predators (by the way, most of whom are known to the child), it is also very easy to misinterpret those "signs." Signs must be taken in combination and in context, both for the sake of your daughter(s), and for the sake of a possibly innocent father.

Remainder of my answer to this Ask Darlene question "Suspect my toddler is being sexually abused: Don't know what to do?" can be found at Comments below this submission. Depending on system activity, there are sometimes delays in comments going live on my site; but rest assured, they do eventually appear. So if you don't yet see them, I hope you will return later to read what I, and possibly others, have written. I thank you for your patience and understanding.

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this, I do try to balance the need for the submitter to be
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