The following was advice to a mother struggling with protecting her two young daughters from sexual abuse by their father—she has not been believed by the courts. The advice below was given by one of our activist litigants, someone who had the emotional energy to help others while still fighting for her own child—not an easy task, and one to be admired! While this advice is specific for that one mother, there are many pointers which other parents—fathers as well as mothers—can follow even when there is no sexual or even physical abuse:
Since she can’t really prevent the girls from being alone with him, depending on their ages she can spend time teaching them what to do in an emergency like call 911, go outside and scream. I’d recommend she does this more as general instruction rather than about their dad specifically (because talking about dad being a danger likely violates the court order and will make her look bad in court, additionally it’s harmful to the kids because it makes them have additional anxiety meeting their dad, and other things she may already know).
– This is a longer term solution because likely she will only have long term solutions at this point, but she needs to work on developing a good relationship with her girls where they see her as being trusted, open, and nonjudgmental – the sort of parent that they feel they can tell her things like, “I love my daddy more than you,” and she won’t blow up. Kids do all sorts of strange things when they feel caught in the middle between two parents, even if one parent is clearly harming them (she can read more about this by researching why kids like about who abused them etc.). So it will be especially important that her kids know that she has their backs but is also fine with them loving their dad and the complicated, mixed emotions they likely have about dad who is also abusing them.
– Also a longer term solution is for her to make sure she is documenting every single thing she possibly can that supports evidence of what is happening – making sure to do this quietly and in a way that isn’t causing her kids stress (because they will be more likely to hide things from her or outright lie).
– She might also want to look into getting them Apple watches or something where they can call her at any time. Depending on laws in her state maybe they can even do recordings of when they are at dad?
– Lastly she should make sure to continue her own individual therapy or whatever she is doing to deal with all of this, because the stronger and saner she is, the more she will be able to calmly and methodically handle all of this without letting emotions get too much in the way (unfortunately there is still a bias in the courts and people in general when a woman is overly emotional – even when justified!).
This is a really tough situation but this is what comes off the top of my head for something as severe as sexual abuse. There is so much data out there about how kids will lie and lie about who actually abused them, protect their abuser, make up who abused them, etc. So her best bet is to start reading online forums of what people have done and getting the latest research on how to handle this.
Best of luck to her and her daughters