Can my husband be more prone to sexually abuse our children if he is a victim of sexual abuse?
Dear Stop It Now!,
After five years of marriage, my husband told me that he was sexually abused when he was 18 by the father of a good friend. I want to know if this makes my husband more prone to harm our two children, who are both under 2 years of age. He loves our children and I would say he is a better father than husband, but I cannot stop asking myself this question and I can't ask him this because I feel he would feel heartbroken... Thank you!
Dear Concerned Mom,
I’m so sorry that you have cause to worry about your children’s safety. In answer to your question about your husband’s risk of abusing the children based on his own history of sexual abuse, I can tell you that the vast majority of sexual abuse victims live their lives without ever sexually abusing others.
Adult warning Signs
That said, I would like to recommend that you look at our tip sheets Behaviors to Watch for When Adults Are With Children and Signs That an Adult May Be At-Risk to Harm a Child. Are there any signs in your husband that you’ve observed? A single sign does not mean that he is at risk to abuse children. Look for patterns and repetitious behavior. Sometimes these signs can also indicate an adult who has poor boundaries with children but isn’t necessarily a sexually abusive adult. Adults who have been abused and who may not have received treatment and/or support may struggle with behaviors that are inappropriate, but again, not sexually abusive. Sometimes they need help with establishing safe and respectful boundaries, such as being reminded not to tell adult sexual content jokes in front of children.
Communicating about safety
I understand that you do not want to “insult” your husband, but as parents together, I’m hoping that perhaps you can talk in general about how the two of you - regardless of your own relationship issues - can secure a safe environment for your children.
You don’t have to “accuse” him; instead, you can say that it is important for both of you to think about the safety rules for the family and home. Share our safety tip sheets which I’ve included and perhaps even talk about how it could be helpful for him to seek counseling to help him deal with what happened to him as a youth – so that he can be a stronger parent.
Safety Tip Sheets:
- Don’t Wait: Everyday Actions to Keep Kids Safe
- Create Your Family Safety Plan
- Guidebook: Prevent Child Sexual Abuse: Facts About Abuse and How to Prevent It
I hope this information is helpful, and please do not hesitate to contact us back with further concerns or questions.
Stop It Now!
Follow up note from Stop It Now!...
This Helpline user contacted us back and shared these words, "Thank you so very much for your answer! You have helped me and my family a lot! I will ask him to do this plan together."
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Last edited on: November 7th, 2018