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Avatar universal

Do adult children lie about being sexually abused as children?

I am desperate for help. Last summer my world fell apart when my 26 year old daughter send me a message that her father had molested her for years as a child. I was shocked. The thought of that made me sick and I had never seen any signs but I didn't want to be that stupid mother that calls her daughter a liar. She claims I knew because I asked her so many times if anyone had touched her inappropirately but I was just trying to be a good mother and would never ever ignore such a thing. My grown son says he never saw anything but wholeheartedly believes his sister as this is the first time she has ever given him any attention at all. Of course my husband of 30 years denies any wrongdoing and I can't believe he is capable but thats what all say. We had a good life and their childhood seemed pretty idyllic to me but when my daughter turned 16 she started to be very hostile and through high school and college hated us more and more, especially me. Now she says this is the reason for the hate and it does make sense. Its the perfect storm. I dont know what to think or do and have lost both my children at this point. Initially I did offer to go to the police with her or to individual or family counseling or to confront him together but she refused to do anything said she just wanted me to know. I don't know what to do and there doesn't seem a solution. My husband is rightfully hurt that I am not 100% behind him and I have tried because I don't believe he could or would do that to his daughter but I'm so scared of being wrong."
32 Responses
134578 tn?1546634665
Tough one, because if she is telling the truth and you don't believe her, she will be angry at you forever and think you were sticking your head in the sand yet again, and if he is telling the truth and you don't believe him, he will be really hurt, possibly to permanent damage in the marriage.  If you have to know the truth in order to keep living with him, ask them both to take polygraph tests.

Alternatively, you could explain to your daughter that you either have to believe her and leave your husband, or not believe her and possibly compound the pain she felt as a child.  Ask her how she would feel if you stayed with your husband without knowing if what she says is true or not.
Ask her to go see a Psychologist with you and  get the opinion of the professional.  Start there.
You never want to bargain with a child over something this serious. She may say, " Stay with dad" Because she doesn't want to break up the relationship. If she says this, them mom may think she's  making the story up?  There is time to mend her and he dads relationship with honesty. You can't erase what he may have did, but using a professional to bring some normalcy to the relationship may help.  The degree of molestation is a factor here too. Was in inappropriate touch? Genital fondling etc...! None of it is ok and what he did was wrong if he did it BUT.. the councilor can use this as a tool to break the barrier and hopefully bring some help to the situation.  
All parties... the daughter , son, yourself and father should be available to the Psychologist as needed.
I know this is an old post but other may gain some insight to this situation that unfortunately all too familiar.
Thank you for your comments -she has not spoken to us for a year since saying this  and only wrote it to me as a message on facebook.  She will not confront her father, refused to go to the police or to any type of counseling either by herself of with family, though I have gone on my own.
Yes the accusation is inappropriate touching from 5-7 years old.  She did not want to do anything about it or confront him just told me last summer, and she did not want me to stay with him, and in fact asked me right away not to even go back home.
DON't take a polygraph test. They do not work, despite the fact that the police still use them. The actual inventor of the polygraph admitted that his invention didn't work. People have wrongfully gone to jail & others have wrongfully been set free on account of the polygraph. Just thought I'd put that out there.
I am an adult and at fifty my memories of abuse came back. my older sister had the same. my mother does not believe us. I think it is ti painfull for her,. I do not believe she is lying.
13167 tn?1327197724
I agree this is very hard.  I have heard of cases where children confront their mothers,  and suddenly the mothers realize that it all makes sense - the dad would encourage the mom to leave for hours at a time,  or would take the child on vacations where the child didn't seem to want to go,  etc.

It's much much harder if you're in a situation where it doesn't make sense - where when you look at it very carefully it still remains hard to believe.

Your sentence about 'this is the only time she's ever given him any attention at all' referring to the brother caught my eye,  and I'd be interested in hearing more about the family dynamics.  And that made your son turn his back on his parents.

I think I would talk to your son and ask him specifically why he "wholeheartedly" believes his sister when he was also surprised at this,  and what has made him turn his back on his parents.  I think that might be the information you need.
Avatar universal
Exactly.  As difficult as it will be, I need to know the truth.  One of them is lying. Unless she has "false memories" which I have heard of.  She was sexually assaulted freshman year of college and went to therapy. Actually she has accused a handful of men of innappropriate sexual conduct (never rape and not now either) - fellow students, co-workers and roommates. Not sure if that is relevant or a coincidence.  She is a beautiful girl but seems odd.   I have asked them both to take a lie detector test and he has agreed but she will not.  He also went to the police and she would not.   She wanted me to leave him immediately when she told me, didn't seem to want me to confront him, which I had to do, and he denied it all.  He tried to talk to her but she refused. I am hurting them both because I don't know what to believe or how to decide. Living in limbo is terrible.
The flip side of the coin on your husband denying it all is that child molesters frequently deny any wrong doing. That's part of the "sickness."

A pedophile's five common psychological defense patterns are:
1. denial
2. minimization
3. justification
4. fabrication
5. attack, as in character attacks on the child or others.

And they can pass polygraph tests and lie the entire time. My father was one such person who could easily lie about anything and make you believe it. He was a psychopath and a serial killer.

I've also read this favorite line of many abuser: "it had educational value," that the child derived pleasure from the acts or attention, or that the child was provocative and encouraged the acts in some way.

As for your daughter's hostility as a teenager, the flip side could be normal behavior for a teenager. Some teenagers rebel more than others.

I was abused by my whole family: stepdad, mother, and three brothers. My father also abused me. I never rebelled as a teenager. I did the opposite. I withdrew within myself.

My stepson accused his stepfather of molesting him. His mother thought her son was lying and decided to "prove" he was a liar. She took him down to the police station, without his father's permission, and had the police interrogate him. He was about 9 years old at the time. He recanted his story of being abused. When he got home (to us) he was so traumatized by the experience he wouldn't speak for weeks. The first time he spoke he kept repeating, "I didn't do it."

Pretty sad story. It took years in therapy to help him recover from his mother's misstep. They have never been close since then and after that he chose to live with us full time. He had therapy for the sexual abuse as well.

A good read on the topic of child molesters can be found on the internet. It's called Child Molesters: A Behavioral Analysis. For Professionals Investigating the Sexual Exploitation of Children. It's a long PDF, 212 pages long, technical at times, yet informative. It's published by the FBI, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and Office of Justice Program.
Thanks, I will check that out.  I have read a lot and tried to educate myself, for what its worth.  He definitely is not a pedophile as there were many young girls around who were not touched.  If anything he would be considered a situational offender - an opportunist.  I previously thought  molesters were only stepdads and not only biological fathers but I have learned that is not the case.
So sorry for all you have been through.  The stories of all these abused children are truly heartbreaking.
Avatar universal
Well it does make her behavior and hostility since a teenager make sense.  She changed around 16 and seemed so angry especially me but dad too.  This was the time where she became sexually active and I chalked it up to hormones, school stress and being a teenager.  She says she was lashing out.  As far as it making sense during her childhood, it doesn't.  She says it was going on as far back as she can remember (5?) and "pretty much stopped" when her brother was born, she was 7, and that it happened in our bed when she would come cuddle with us in our bed in the morning and I would go take a shower for work.  I stayed home for a few years after having her brother. I am trying to keep a relationship with my son but it is strained.  He at least realizes the part about me "knowing" all these years is not true.   I would never ignore anyone hurting a child and he knows that.  He has not and will not speak to his father.  Not really relevant but he is gay and came out about 16 we have both been very supportive but it has been a difficult road for him.  He always adored his sister but she was very mean to him.  She pretty much never called or visited us or him after leaving for college, even when her brother was in an accdent.  I asked him why he believes her 100% and he says he just knows its true and doesn't ever want to hear dads side.  He admits he never saw or felt anything inappropriate. This is all so shocking to me.  I thought we had a great family life. Not perfect, but good.
Avatar universal
There's really nothing for her to gain by lying about this, except humiliation and embarrassment.  It's VERY rare for people to make things like that up, but VERY common for molestors to lie about it and seem like nice normal people.  Please believe your daughter!
This forum is reassuring and at the same time distressing as so much of what I'm reading has happened to me. Almost 2 years ago I told my father "everything I could remember" about his brother (my uncle) molesting me (in a phone conversation). My father's only response to me was "You just Data Dumped me". I am his only daughter. He has not spoken to me since January 2014. . Maybe you think, "Why should I bother telling him now?" I was 59 y/o at the time.  Guess, we as AMAC's, (adults molested as children) will always want to know if our parent(s) care to protect us even at this late stage in our lives. My father's wife of 36 yrs, has continued the abuse in an emotional manner towards me since their marriage in 1980. My father would never stand up to her very abusive emotional behavior towards me and 2 of my brothers. Now my entire nuclear family: older brother (who identified/looked up to "Chester the molester" uncle) and another younger brother  are very distant to me. They treat me like I am crazy and the pariah of the family. To my knowledge, neither one of my biological children (girl and boy) were ever molested as my "antenna were up" as I raised them. (didn't want them around my father or mother). That uncle is still alive, was never prosecuted. I am having relational issues with my adult kids currently(very distressing). If it weren't for my "Faith in a Loving Father/God", I would have self destructed long ago.  Mahalo for allowing me to speak here.
Avatar universal
To be honest,  nearly the exact thing happened to me and it has pretty much ruined my life. As her mother,you are all that she has! Im not trying to scare you, but do not be surprised if she becomes suicidal especially if you don't believe her.
Avatar universal
First I want to say that I am very sorry that you are having to go through this, its an awful position to be in.  I am a 52 y/o male who was abused by an older brother from the age of about 9-11.  I was also abused by one of his friends as well and often at the same time.  Just my opinion but I would believe your daughter 100%.  For her to come forward and being this to light took a lot of strength. We "the abused" know that once we say something we risk being turned on by those who are suppose to love us.  I didn't confront my brother until the past few years.  It was brought up at my mothers funeral and since that day I haven't spoken to any of my siblings. "He is crazy" is what they are saying.  That's ok with me though, it was a secret that I felt ashamed of and why should I feel shame.  And yes, my brother is the Golden Child, no one would ever believe he could do something like this.  HE DID and he did it to ME!  

This also caused problems with my mother and myself.  I think we get upset because we  believe they were suppose to protect us when we are kids and they failed.  I went to counseling for years and my doc ask me what good would it do to tell my mother, it was so long ago that I should just forget it.  Unfortunately I can't forget it. Putting it plainly, it messed me up real bad.  I did confront my mother and she denied knowing anything.. Somehow I still don't believe her because it stopped as suddenly as it started.

If you don't mind my giving advice.  Have you confronted your husband?  If he loves you and your daughter he should be willing to take a lie detector test.  I know sounds kinda crazy, but if I could get my brother to take one, my name would be clear. Perhaps she could take one also... Its such a delicate subject its really hard to say.

People also worry...What if he takes the test and fails. Will he do something bad to himself?  My family would rather call me a liar than face the fact that we have an abuser in the family. Its easier to support him than it is me.  The reason, well, "we don't do that in this family"... we did and I am paying the price.  From reading your story, I understand your daughters anger etc..... I don't think she is angry with you as much as she is the situation.  She has her guard up with you because she probably feels that you have to take sides and you are going to take your husbands side... I think this is something you have to get resolved or it will only fester....Confront your husband and don't accuse him but rather ask for his help to prove it didn't happen so you can help your daughter.  If he refuses, more than likely he is guilty.. What father wouldn't do anything for his girl--anything!  If he is innocent he shouldn't have a prpblem taking a lie detector test.

Sorry to be so long, its just that this is still a hot topic with me even at this very moment.  My heart goes out to you and your daughter...
Your family sounds similar to mine. My mother was a narcissist and made two of her children Golden Children and the middle ones were abused and yet told we were never abused and made it up.

My middle brother watched in horror as my whole family mentally/emotionally abused me on a regular basis. He couldn't stop it because of constant threat of physical abuse by our dad. My middle brother was the only child in the family to be physically abused by our dad.

My mother disbelieved me and sided with my older brother who molested me. That ended the relationship with my mother. It was on shaky ground due to her personality disorders, NPD and OCPD.

I was referred to by everyone in my family as the "crazy one" and that everyone should keep their distance. My middle brother has been the only one to keep in touch with me.

After my mother died, my family has kept that same behavior. It's sad because even after the narcissist is gone the family system stays dysfunctional.

The only healthy child is the Scapegoat (me) because they leave the family system.
This is so sad and it sounds like you have worked your way through a lot of childhood trauma so good for you.  
Avatar universal
Petie, thank you for taking the time to share and I'm so sorry for what happened to you.  Children should never have to endure such pain.  I am heartbroken to think my own child did and I did not protect her. I cry thinking that she thinks I would look the other way because I would never.  I have confronted my husband and went back and forth believing them because they are both so convincing.  She refuses to confront him, go to counseling or the police or take a lie detector test where as he is willing to do any and did go to the police but only a victim can open a case.  He has scheduled a polygraph for next week and says he will be exonerated but nobody will ever look at him the same again after what she has done.  It's all so sad either way.
Avatar universal
Thank you Rosa.  I know what you say is true statistically but sometimes it does happen and I want to know the truth. He will take a polygraph next week but she refuses to take any action - not that it makes her the one lying.  Since you have been through this, can I ask you something that I keep thinking of - she says it happened for a few years when she was like 5-7 but her whole life was daddys girl and wrote him  (not me) these sweet letters all the time even up to 18 years old saying he was her favorite person in the world and she wanted find a man just like him to be the father of her children.  Does that seem odd to you, can you imaging writing something like that to your dad?
13167 tn?1327197724
oops,  in the last paragraph,   (heR continuing to come into bed)
13167 tn?1327197724
MOM,  the way you describe the incidents,  I 100% believe her.  Women do have "found" memories,  that are often untrue,  but she's got a clear memory of times when you know they were alone in bed.  

Sexual abuse is so difficult.  You ask is it odd that she wrote those love letters to him,  and no,  it makes it even more likely that it's true.  It's a twisty,  sad dynamic that girls who have been molested often want nothing as much as they want the approval of their molester,  if he is someone they loved to begin with.

And they blame others who did nothing,  and knew nothing.  

Children who are abused and then immediately make an outcry,  and get help and the abuse ends,  usually fare pretty well. They heal pretty well and feel empowered by their own actions.

Children who don't make an outcry,  and in fact take actions to facilitate the abuse (he continuing to come into bed with you for years after the first incident) fare very poorly.  Although it's not their fault,  they are left with the feeling of "why did I do that"?  "why didn't I try to make it stop"?

Is your daughter in therapy?
I have offered to pay for therapy to both of my children but they don't want to. I have gone but should go back again.
3060903 tn?1398568723
Okay, so i have a different take on this. I grew up in a co dependent home. Lot's of chaos. It affected all four children differently. One an addict (myself) my step brother an alcoholic, my brother a wife beater, and my sister a compulsive liar and manipulator. My sister had a laundy list of people abusing her "sexually", Then i grew up and there came a time when i was in her world. She took a great deal of time trying to get me to say that i had been sexually abused by my father. My father was a major prick, however, he never sexually assaulted me. She hated him and wanted him to pay for pass deeds that didn't suit her. Then, my son was born. And my sister, in an attempt to have me ousted out of my son's life, called the authorities and said that my son had been abused by my "friends" It took some time to go through the process, but it was found "unfounded" What they call "unfounded" i call out and out lying by a messed up manipulator.

So that's my story.

Your husband is willing to exonerate himself. And your daughter is not. I'm pretty sure that it will become clear that your daughter is lying, at least about her dad. I doubt very much your daughter will take the test, but if she does, perhaps it would be beneficial to have the question's asked about the others who '"allegedly" raped or molested her. For her benefit, it would be healthy to know if your daughter may need help herself. I think this may be a case of young lady looking for attention, or the fall of another, and that she might need help herself.

I do not automatically believe adult children. And would need proof of their convictions before destroying a person's life. Not only that, i'd be sure to discuss it with them in no uncertain terms. "You have an opportunity to prove what you are saying, the fact that you are not, is suspect, to say the least".

Just another opinion, based on experience.

Thank you NightHawk for adding another perspective. I do believe my daughter may be manipulating us all but don't understand what the end game would be in destroying our family. Even relatives who originally stood by her side (some who are abuse survivors themselves) later decided due to things she said and did that they thought she was lying.  Only her brother believes her.
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13167 tn?1327197724
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