It’s been almost a year since I left my husband with my 3 children. At that time my daughters were 15 and 13 and my son was 9. My daughters both told me that my husband (their step father) was saying sexual things to them and my 13 year old had a text from my husband that was very explicit about himself. Once I saw the text, I had proof of what my girls were saying.
About 3 months after we left he did get indicted with two charges of indecency with a child-One charge for each daughter -which he is currently fighting. Since we left, I have had minimal contact until recently. He is in anger management as well as seeing a psychiatrist trying to get help. He is adamant that he never touched my girls (which he did not-but through all our interviews have come to know that what he did was grooming) and admits to the harm he caused. He feels that what he has done can be forgiven and we can repair our marriage. My girls have so much anger for him- I have forgiven him- he is no longer in our lives and nowhere near my children-forgiveness was easier for me than it is for my daughters. They are so young and their pain is far deeper than mine. I want to do the right thing for us all but feel lost in all of this. Can you give any advice?
Sincerely, (Name Withheld)
Dear (Name Withheld)
I grieve for you and your children and for the pain and hurt you are enduring. I know that you all have suffered greatly. I hurt for you. Your children will need much care and comfort so as not to come out of this experience deeply scarred. One of the best ways to help them through their emotional pains and hurts is to do what Jesus suggested in Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Your children are mourning. Sometimes the best thing is to put your arms around them, pat them gently on the head, and cry with them.
While you didn’t mention actually divorcing your husband, I am certain that the idea crossed your mind. So let me confirm that you have “Biblical grounds” for divorce if you want it. According to Jesus sexual perversion breaks the marriage bonds. The Greek word translated “adultery’ which He used in Matthew 19:9ff is “porneia”. The word means much more than adultery. It includes a wide umbrella of illicit sexual activities including adultery, pornography, bestiality, fornication and incest (suggested or otherwise).
You may also want to read Ephesians 5:25-31 where the responsibilities of a husband are clearly laid out. A husband who does not live up to these responsibilities has quite clearly broken the bond of marriage.
On the other hand, while you have grounds for divorce, you by no means have to exercise that right. You can certainly work to restore your marriage and your relationship with your estranged husband. However, I suggest that you leave your children out of this procedure. By the way, I would never put your children through the trauma of living under the same roof with him ever again. Please recognize that his efforts to justify his behavior in the court system may be more hurtful than his original behavior with the children. In essence he is now acting like a bully. He is calling them liars
Next, those involved in child sexual abuse very rarely get "well." From my own genetic and brain chemistry research it seems to me that those involved in child sexual abuse seem to be “wired” differently than others who are not attracted to children as sex addicts. This is why so many child-sexual abusers immediately return to their dastardly activities as soon as they find the opportunity. Please don’t take this to mean that your husband is a child-sex abuser. He may have just allowed his old sin nature to overwhelm him. The fact that he is seeing a psychiatrist is encouraging whether he is “wired” that way or not. I hope that he gets help so as never to act like this way again.
By the way, I feel quite broken hearted for your husband. His life will never be the same again. He has lost a major portion of his family, life and future. He also is in great pain; I can’t imagine him otherwise. In many ways his life is now on hold while all of this is worked out. He needs our prayers for the grace of God to sustain him while he tries to put his life back together again.
If I seem rather intolerant of your husband’s behavior it is simply because there are lines that should not be crossed. Your husband crossed several. This is intolerable.
I find the term “grooming” rather strange. He has no business touching your girls in any form or fashion—and especially writing them indecent notes about himself. Whatever he did, he certainly “scared your kids to death.” His behavior was painfully dysfunctional. Please don’t minimize in your mind what he did or didn’t do. The fact that your children are reacting like they are is evidence that whatever he did is more than just inappropriate. It was nasty, humiliating and terrifying. I believe that biological parents can certainly comfort their children when they are hurting and show them signs of affection. However, unless step dad has raised the children since preschool years and has a safe and loving parental relationship developed with them over many years of loving care, in all but a few special circumstances, step dad had best keep his hands away from the children—especially those of the opposite sex.
My biggest concern is for your children. I think that you should keep them as far away from step dad as you possibly can. Eventually, over time, hopefully, they will heal from the trauma and work through the pain--but that will come later—usually with time, loving counsel and care. Please don't try to make the kids forgive dad at the present time, this pressure will only cause more hurt to their young psyches.
Finally, you may want to restore your relationship with your husband. If so, go slowly. You say that you have forgiven him. Let’s be certain you really understand the meaning of forgiveness—for both you and your children.
1. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
I do not know who coined the admonition “forgive and forget”. I do know that it is impossible to “forget” at will.
2. Forgiving does not mean letting the one who hurt you “off the hook.”
The issue here is justice. Those who hurt people need to pay for what they did. You want to hold on to you perceived right to “get even”. However, the truth is that when we forgive, we let people off of our “hook”, but they are still on God’s hook—for vengeance or grace and forgiveness.
3. Forgiving is not a sign of weakness.
Forgiveness is not a passive behavior that allows the person to keep on hurting you or others. On the contrary! Forgiveness is a courageous act that reflects the grace, kindness, and compassion of Christ.
4. Forgiving does not means that we must pick up the relationship with the one who hurt us as if nothing ever happened.
Forgiveness does not demand that we reenter an abusive or toxic relationship with the unrepentant offender. If the offender is repentant, we can choose to establish boundaries, giving the offender—over a period of time—the opportunity to demonstrate his/her trustworthiness which is a precondition to authentic intimacy. Regaining trust—and that can take a long time—if ever.
Again, I grieve for you and your pain. Everything in your life is turned topsy-turvy. You never expected this to happen. Life was never intended to be like this. May God bless you and your children as you pick up the pieces and struggle through these days to great victory as Jesus pours in the power and strength for all you need (Philippians 4:10-13).
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