Excerpt From an Expert: Who Has the Most to Lose? Kathleen Coulborn Faller, M.S.W, PH.D.

Who Has the Most to Lose?  Kathleen Coulborn Faller, M.S.W, PH.D.

Mothers may also have a lot to lose if the victim’s allegation is believed, particularly in father/daughter incest cases.  First, to acknowledge the incest exists may be regarded by the mother as an indictment of her as a mother and a spouse.  This may be so painful that “putting on blinders” is a more tolerable solution.  Moreover, sexual abuse often develops when there are deficiencies in the sexual relationship between perpetrator (spouse or boyfriend) and mother.  She may not want a sexual relationship with the perpetrator.  Usually unconsciously, but sometimes consciously, she may facilitate the movement of the daughter into the incestuous relationship.  Thus, even though she may not recognize them, there may be costs for the mother if the sexual abuse ends [6, 7].

The mother may also be facing more concrete and practical problems, for instance, financial dependency on the perpetrator.  If she has to expel him or if he goes to prison, she may have to seek other means of support.  This can include going on Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), or seeking employment when she has never worked or has not worked in years.

Finally, should her spouse leave or be incarcerated, she will lose tile emotional support he may have provided.  To an outsider this may not seem much, but frequently he will be all the mother has, and she will not be able to imagine life without him.  Many mothers of incest victims suffer from low self-esteem, and are very dependent upon their partners.  They may choose their partners over their children if forced to choose one or the other.

Because of these dynamics, mothers of sex abuse victims often do not believe their daughters’ allegations, ignore them when they are made, or try to deal with the problem without bringing in outside help.  Alternatively, they may initially side with the child, but then switch their loyalties, and side with the perpetrator as they experience the practical consequences of the spouse’s anger and/or loss of the spouse.


Note from JDP: On a personal note many of these families are affluent and fear they will lose their position in society, their status, their job.

Possible Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

Possible Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

Because most children cannot or do not tell about being sexually abused, it is up to concerned adults to recognize signs of abuse.  Physical evidence of abuse is rare.  Unfortunately, there is no one behavior alone that definitely determines a child has been sexually abused.  Also, none of these behaviors alone indicates sexual abuse.  A combination of these over a period of time may more strongly indicate sexual abuse:

• physical complaints; headaches

• fear or dislike of certain people or places 

• extreme changes in behavior

• depression and withdrawal

• frequent nightmares; other sleep disturbances 

• regression to infantile behaviors such as bed-wetting and thumb-sucking

• age-inappropriate interest in sexual matters

• frequent genital infections 

• excessive masturbation 

• self-mutilation such as burning or cutting

*How You Can Help a Child

• Keep calm.  It is important to remember that you are not angry with the child, but with what happened.  Children can mistake anger or disgust as directed towards them.  This anger may cause them to withdraw.

• Believe the child.  In almost every case, children do not lie about sexual abuse.  You may be the only one the child thinks can give help.

• Listen to the child.  Take the child to a private place, where others can still see you and let the child tell you what happened in his or her own words. Give the child your full attention.

• Give positive messages, such as “I know it’s not your fault,” or “I’m glad you told.”

• Reassure the child.  Explain that he or she was not to blame for what happened.

• Respect the child’s privacy.  Be careful not to discuss the abuse in front of people who do not need to know what happened.

• Be responsible.  Seek medical attention for the child by someone who is trained to identify and treat child sexual assaults.  Even if the child appears unhurt, there may be injuries and trauma not immediately visible.

• Report the incident immediately.  Notify the police, or 1-800-252-5400 TX

• Know how to get help.  Your local sexual violence crisis center can provide many free and confidential services for child victims.  Call 1.800.656.HOPE

*Be Sure You Do Not…

• Panic or overreact when the child talks about the experience.  Children need help and support through this difficult time.

• Pressure the child to talk or avoid talking about the abuse.  Allow the child to talk at his or her own pace.  Forcing information can be harmful, and you are not trained to interview a child victim.  But silencing the child will not help him or her to forget, either.

• Confront the offender in the child’s presence.  The stress may be harmful.  Confronting the offender at all is never a good idea. Leave this to the proper authorities.

• Blame the child.  Remember, sexual abuse is never the child’s fault!

* http://www.turningpointservices.org/sexualassault.htm

Stand Up For Sexually Abused Children:

I Stand Up For Sexually Abused Children:

*Sexual abuse is an abuse of power over a child and a violation of a child’s right to normal, healthy, trusting relationships. 

Some people stand up for Cancer, AIDS, and MS and their efforts are applauded.  I stand up for the children that are brutally victimized; and traumatized into silence.  That does not always make me a popular person.  I should only be a threat to those people that are perpetrators and to those that choose to protect sexual abusers instead of the child.  I should only be a jab to the conscious to those that would prefer to act as if, “They didn’t know anything was happening.”  I do not live and breathe this issue 24/7.  When I interact with you in a social setting, I am not looking to see if you have abuse in your life.

Are you uncomfortable about this topic?  You might ask yourself why.  These days we hear public discussions about bowel movements, mental illness, and other intimate information.  Then, why do we shy away from discussing this horrific crime being committed against our children?  Not discussing the issue does not make it go away.  These children cannot save themselves; it is our job as the adults to protect them.

I am merely sharing the facts and information about what is happening.  Yes, it is ugly and unpleasant.  Yet, discussion is in no way as terror filled as a child living through this horrific abuse again, and again, and again.  You can turn your head but that does not make the problem go away.  (*Child sexual abuse is seldom a one-time occurrence, and lasts and average of 1 to 4 years.)  These children are suffering as their outcries go ignored on a regular basis.

This is an epidemic in our country

*Statistics say 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 7 boys are sexually victimized before age 18.  That guarantees some child you know is being sexually abused or has been sexually abused.  This type of crime can only continue to exist when we refuse to acknowledge the suffering of a child.  If we say, “I care,” by choosing to call and make reports and by being honest when approached by authorities for information we can stop this epidemic.  Please hold no false loyalties to any adult, whether that is husband, uncle or daughter.  *Fifty-five percent (55%) of assailants are either the father or the stepfather of the child …Women may also be offenders.  It is important to note, children rarely lie about sexual assault.  Therefore, parents, friends, relatives, teachers must always believe the child’s report of such an experience.

Children don’t tell

Many people want to blame their state agency.  The department most commonly referred to as CPS, cannot solve this issue alone.  It takes a village to raise a child, or at least protect them.  One reason these cases fail to go to court is due to lack of evidence.  A child can be sexually abused for years without obvious physical detection.  These predators know what they are doing and how to avoid detection as they groom the child.  What they are doing to this young helpless human being is devastating physically and mentally.  Do not doubt for one minute that child has been and probably is in pain.  Trust your gut instinct.  If something seems not quite right pay attention to how that child interacts with others.

*Even if asked, children usually do not tell about the abuse due to any of the following reasons:

  1. Are too young to put what has happened into words.
  2. Were threatened or bribed by the abuser to keep the abuse a secret.
  3. Feel confused by the attention and feelings accompanying the abuse.
  4. Are afraid no one will believe them.
  5. Blame themselves for what happened.
  6. Feel ashamed or embarrassed to tell.
  7. Worry about getting into trouble
  8. Worry about getting a loved one into trouble.

Know that these children must survive; they must pretend everything is all right so others will not guess their trauma.  They are tormented by their predator, often others, even the Mother, to keep quiet and act as everything is perfect.  If the child tells, there is always the threat that, “It will get worse.”  If you tell the parent and they are involved then it does make it worse as *75% to 80% of all children assaulted or abused are victimized by someone they know.  Make your report to the authorities, not the parent.  You can do this anonymously.

Protect the child, not the adult

People often are afraid if they report an innocent person’s life may be ruined.  First, know it is difficult to prove sexual abuse.  So, if you call CPS the adult is protected while the investigation occurs.  If they are innocent then no one ever knows unless the accused tells.  The laws provide them with more protection than they do our children.  This is why in order to build a case, it takes anyone who has information to report what they know or suspect.

People who have information or strong suspicions too often refuse to get involved.  Do not assume someone else is taking care of the problem.  Do not stop yourself from reporting because someone says it is none of your business.  You may be the one final link in saving the life and sanity of a child.  Wouldn’t you rather report and be wrong then fail to do so and find your favorite neighbor, niece, nephew, grandchild or cousin physically, emotionally devastated or even dead?  (*One of five rape victims is under age 12 and 10% of all are under the age of 5-years-old.)


As well, remember the current modus operandi for CPS in Texas is focusing on keeping the family together, which means keeping the child in the abusive situation and avoiding legal action at all costs.  Charges are not filed against the child molester; the child is left in the home and in danger as current legislation has figuratively tied the hands of CPS.

First, consider these questions.  Why is this protocol?  Who makes these decisions?  How do we change legislation?  Second, take action.  Do whatever you can to change the legislation involving our children.  And, we really have to make it our business to seek help for these children.  We have to report, report, report, so an overloaded and underfunded CPS will be forced to take action.  You can do this anonymously.  JDP

Texas: 24/7     1-800-252-5400


* http://www.turningpointservices.org/sexualassault.htm

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