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My Children Were Raped: What I Now Know About Protecting My Kids

{WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT. All names and locations, as well as minor geographical and job details have been changed to protect all parties involved – even the incarcerated, as required by law.}


No one thinks it could happen to you, to your family. It’s appalling, revolting, terrifying…and so disgustingly common.

Studies by David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center, show that
Stats
In a time when we are so overpoweringly paranoid by stranger danger, some of us are failing to protect our children from predators who we, as adults, can’t fathom hurting our children: uncles, cousins, grandparents…parents.

The fact is, however, only 14% of children who suffered sexual abuse were violated by an unknown perpetrator.[1]

For my children, it was my husband. Their father. Their own flesh and blood. That in itself is hard to wrap my brain around. When it was discovered, two of my three children were still in diapers. My daughter Sara, the oldest, was only five.

As I reflect on it now, my husband had always shown signs of pedophilia. I met my husband when I was only 16. I was babysitting his young children and he was 34. As happens in immature and lovestruck teenagers, I believed everything Tim told me. That I was his soulmate, that age didn’t matter, that his wife was crazy. It was a whirlwind, and the next thing I knew we were living on the other side of the state and I was pregnant with our daughter.

Tim was always unbelievably attentive, and he was always calling me his “queen”, his “Lolita.” My parents loved him (even though they didn’t appreciate the age difference).

Fast forward six years and we now had two boys as well. I was 24 and no longer a girl, but a competent, strong, hardworking, take-no-crap woman…and things were turning south quickly. Tim stayed at home with the kids, and I had a really good job. I found out he was bringing girls over and snorting painkillers in front of my kids. I decided to leave. I called my mom while he was out for the weekend, and that’s when it happened.

My mom drove across state the next morning to help me take everything I could back home. The kids were running amuck around the house and I was fervently packing. My daughter was complaining again that her vagina hurt. For years she was getting “yeast infections” and was always tender and red on her labia. We assumed it was the bath soap, the bubble bath, too much yogurt, not enough water and acidic urine, pH imbalance…even the doctors never knew. My mom reached into the top of the closet to find the newest medicine the doctor prescribed to “see if this one works” and found Spicy Cinnamon Hot Lube. She turned to me with disgust, holding it in her hand like a smelly sock and started to reprimand me for not at very least keeping my sex stuff in a box in the bedroom.

Scared_Child_at_NighttimeSara, my daughter, completely broke down.

She immediately backed away shaking her head and grabbing her vagina as though she could morph her hands into an iron chastity belt. Tears streamed down her face like a faucet had turned on, and I will never un-hear these pleading, terrified words: “Please grandma! Please don’t put that on me again!”

My mother and I froze. My mom said tentatively, “Honey, do you know what this is?”

“It’s what daddy uses to get me ready for our special play time. But it hurts. I don’t like it.”

I can’t actually tell you what happened next. My mind has blacked it out. I know we went back to my mom’s house. I know I got a restraining order. I know I went to a judge.

I did everything I was supposed to…except protect my kids.

I remember at one point the judge said I didn’t have enough evidence, that they couldn’t use Sara’s testimony because she “was too young to understand.” Yet too young to have the cognitive skills to make up that kind of story. They couldn’t use the drawings my son made, or the recorded conversation he had with my sister describing in detail how he needed to use crayons to get him and his brother ready, or that after not seeing her father for six months but while visiting her paternal grandmother Sara suddenly said, “If I tell you I lied and daddy and I didn’t have secrets can he come home?”

It wasn’t until two years later when another little girl–an ex-girlfriend’s seven year old daughter–came forward that the case was reopened. I was a “star witness,” a sure thing they said. When Tim was prosecuted he walked by me in court and said “I forgive you Casey,” and I threw up.

What I Now Know

Looking back, I ignored the signs, the telltale signs that are standard across the board: inexplicable anger and outbursts, constant nightmares, body shaming, suddenly calling her vagina “cute” names, overly modest for a toddler/preschooler, constant pain and discoloration of her vagina. There’s a whole list on StopItNow.org. There are resources available everywhere to help you, statistics to make this real, and even classes on prevention. But unless you can listen to your children, your gut, and loved ones, you may become a statistic like we did.

No one believes it can happen to them. But this is real, and you have to pay attention. Remember:

  • Don’t EVER make your children show affection to someone they don’t want to (I don’t care who it is). In doing so you are teaching them they have no right to their own bodies or to say no.
  • Teach them secrets are bad (they make people sad), but surprises are good (they make people happy).
  • Use actual words with their bodies, and show them you will ALWAYS listen to them. Because our number one job as a mom is to listen to, believe, and protect our children. If we don’t, who will?

If you suspect child sexual abuse, please call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s Cyber Tipline (1.800.843.5678).

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