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Sexual Abuse – Defending Children – Beyond the Double Bind

For the purposes of this article, we are focusing on the parent whose child has disclosed to the parent, either directly or indirectly that the child has experienced some form of inappropriate sexual interaction. This interaction may take the form of direct, clear sexual contact or the child or it may be exposed to behavior that makes the child feel extremely uncomfortable. Such behaviors may include viewing the adult parent masturbating, the child being shown sexually explicit material, or the parent exercising parental “supervisory authority” which involves the parent’s asserted right to observe and supervise children, who have reached a stage of adeptness and autonomy to bathe, go to the bathroom and dress. Younger children may experience a parent who exerts authority over diapering and exerts assertive, repetitive attention to making sure the child’s genitals are clean to the point of the child resisting diaper changes and displaying great distress around routine bowel functions.

Incest is a crime that is punished in all societies, yet protected because of the social/financial upheaval caused to family stability.

Whether the inappropriate behavior is subtle, has not incurred pain or visible injury, or even if the behavior has  been pleasurable to the child and not created immediate fear or concern to the child, the assessment of a sexual contact or direction to engage in behavior that causes the child to speak to a parent, must be taken seriously and explored fully. An understanding of what the child is reporting, as to the description of events, when, where and how / frequency is part of a conversation – not a cross-examination, rush to judgment or action.

The Fight Or Flight Reaction Of The Parent To Alarming Disclosures

The often experienced desire to not want to believe or even hear what a child has disclosed is an understandable reaction. The reaction to call the police, reach out to lawyers to press charges is an equally predictable reaction on the part of an alarmed, distressed parent, particularly if that parent is at any phase of marital conflict or a litigation process. The well-known response to allegations of sexual abuse involving parenting partners

is for authorities to discount the complaint of the complainant. It is well known that a similar complaint if lodged against a non-family member, would most likely be reviewed and even investigated, though the motive issues for lodging such a complaint would be raised, chances of immediate dismissal would be unlikely.

What a parent in this situation does not want to do :

Alarm or distress the child

Question the child about whether or not the child is “sure” about what they are saying……… there is a difference between seeking to clarify information and imparting the impression – I really do not want to be hearing this!

Press for information and facts immediately

Leap into action in the form of contacting the police before time and planning are developed.

What a parent in this situation does want to do:

Assess the level of distress experienced by the child, as well as the level of danger to the child, regarding potential escalation and/or increase in inappropriate behavior to which the child has been exposed or in which the child has been engaged.

Review history of any changes in the child’s behavior, mood, overall functioning with family, friends, school and social functioning. Make an inventory of any apparent changes, in mood, functioning, and overall behavior. Look at a calendar and see if there is a correlation with events and people present at such events or interactions. See if there are patterns of behavior as to clothes or pattern of dress preferred of suddenly rejected.

Think about the person who is the subject of any potential allegation and begin to put together a history, profile, and material that would support such allegations. Also, think about how this person would react and respond to such allegations so that strategic intervention can begin to be formulated.


As is well known across the country allegations of sexual abuse of children is widely disputed, challenged, denied. Far more work goes into the defenses for the dispute of allegations, methods for disproving allegations and rules of evidence against disclosure by victims and witnesses. The concern for maintaining the fabric of family support continues to take precedence over child welfare and mental health of victims and victim advocates who are themselves traumatized and injured by exposure to and engagement in the defense of children and all who love and care for them.

Preparing the facts, protecting evidence and presenting a clear narrative makes all the difference between success and failure in protecting innocent victims.

The pervasive existence of child sexual abuse, beginning with molestation, grooming and coercive control of victims under the authority of an abuser is increasing in society and in the perverse rulings of courts, transferring children into the hands of abusers. This destructive pattern does not need to persist. These patterns persist because of the financial incentive provided by a litigation process that rewards pay to play litigation, false narratives that fill courtrooms with smoke and mirror gas lighting and junk concepts.

While these strategies can be expected by litigants facing terrible deeds acted upon children, acceptance of such a status quo is neither acceptable nor reasonable.

In Conclusion

It is most critical for all parties, that, as soon as there are warning signs, notifications, disclosures of child sexual abuse in any form, that proper action is taken immediately. Inappropriate touching, looking, supervision and control,  normalizing that which is abnormal, these are symptoms of grooming and preparing a child for the next steps for further abuse and further abuser control.

Incest is a crime that is punished in all societies, yet protected because of the social/financial upheaval caused to family stability.  The shame associated with the crime taints all associated. The current litigation strategy associated with shaming and blaming victims and protective parents in the form of the junk concept of parental alienation have further sought to adlayers of legal strategies that seek to make complicated that which is in fact straight forward, clear and indisputable. Preparing the facts, protecting evidence and presenting a clear narrative makes all the difference between success and failure in protecting innocent victims.

The FCVFC team of experts engages in Forensic analytic review involving research and clinical analysis to formulate an understanding that informs ongoing intervention.

Further articles will be forthcoming, elaborating in much greater detail, case illustration of Forensic Case Analysis in presenting defenses for child sexual abuse allegations and why straight forward litigation processes are not pursued. We invite all readers to call us to seek case consultation.


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