This is part two of my series on how to protect you and your kids in Family Court. See Part 1 here.
What if you suspect your ex is sexually abusing your children?
This is every parent’s worst nightmare.Tweet This
I can’t imagine the pain this might cause you. You have a right to flip out internally! However, this won’t help your child(ren). Here are some things that could:
Pray. Ask God for His wisdom, peace, and protection for you and your children. Hang onto Him even harder now than ever before. He cares, and He is there for you.
Don’t panic. Possibly what happened is more innocent than it first sounds. Don’t jump to conclusions. Even if your child is being sexually abused, if she* realizes you are really upset, she may clam up and give you no more information. Why? Possibly:
- because her father** has threatened her if she tells anyone
- she is afraid you are too fragile to handle news this bad
- she thinks you are angry with her because she did something wrong, or
- she is upset, and your fear or anger will upset her.
Try to involve a therapist who specializes in children and encourage the therapist to have a relationship with your ex. If she doesn’t, and she later makes recommendations to the court in your favor, the court may ignore her recommendations as being biased. If or when she does write recommendations, ask her to be very matter-of-fact and not to give orders to the court. For example, it would be better for her to say, “The child appears to be upset after visiting her father,” rather than “Visits to her father should be stopped immediately.” Also, “The child has made reports—these reports seem natural, and not coerced—of physical boundary violations by the father” is better than, “The child is clearly being sexually abused.”
Investigate before involving Social Services. Sometimes Social Services will be helpful, other times not. If you report that your ex has sexually abused your child, and they do not take protective measures against him, your judge may assume you were trying to alienate your children from their father. Try making an anonymous call to your local women’s crisis center (but not from your own phone). The call should be anonymous because women’s center employees are mandated reporters; in other words, if they know a child is being abused, they must, by law, report it. Ask them how Social Services in your specific district usually respond to these types of calls. If it seems a call to Social Services would help get your kids away from your sexually predative ex, you may want to try this.
Get support for you and your children. Many women’s crisis centers will offer support groups for you and your kids. Find one and go. Not only will talking about your problems help you, other people may help you with ideas for action.
Consider raising other concerns about your ex. Your judge may discount reports of abuse, but investigate other allegations. For instance, does he abuse drugs, drive recklessly, or have any other criminal record? These things can make a difference.
Should You Go into Hiding with Your Children?
Have you considered taking your children and going into hiding? If so, you are not alone. I have worked with mothers who seriously considered “kidnapping” their children, leaving the state, changing their identity, and never returning. I sympathize with them, but I can’t condone this, no matter how desperate things look. Why?
First, if you take your kids and leave, you will have to cut ties with everyone you know: family, friends, coworkers; perhaps all relationships. Doing this will isolate you and possibly make it difficult for you to get jobs in the future. Just as important, you will have to live looking over your shoulder, and there is a good chance your abuser or the police will find you. But most important, if you are found, you will probably be sent to jail, possibly for years, and your children will be forced to live full-time with your abuser. You will no longer be there to help keep them safe.
So I can’t recommend you take your kids and run. Even though things may look desperate, God has not abandoned you. With Him on your side, your situation could turn around completely by tomorrow, or . . . it may not. Either way, He is walking beside you, giving you strength to be the best mom you can be under difficult circumstances.
Isaiah 40:30-31 says:
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
The above advice was taken from my just-released book, A Journey to Healing After Emotional Abuse. I recently read a great article with advice from a family court judge. Check out this link.
Here is today’s question:
What has been your hardest struggle while fighting for custody for your kids? What gave you the strength to keep fighting?
Keep up the good fight my friends! You are not alone!
P.S. For those of you reading the bible each day with me, here is the reading plan for week 3:
- Day 15 Psalm 22, 27, 29
- Day 16 Psalm 34, 42, 46
- Day 17 Psalm 73, 89, 90
- Day 18 Psalm 92, 95, 97
- Day 19 Psalm 119, 136
- Day 20 Ephesians 1, 2
- Day 21 Ephesians 3, 4
*victims of sexual abuse might be female or male
** Protective parents might be mothers or fathers, and abusers might be male or female.