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Parents contacting the NSPCC about sexual abuse of their own children

Parents who have contacted the NSPCC about their own child's sexual abuse share their experiences

2 November 2012

Over a third of contacts to the NSPCC about child sexual abuse are made by the child's own parent.

In these two real life stories, Teri and Dan tell us in their own words how it felt to discover their children were being sexually abused by other family members, and why they are glad they spoke to the NSPCC.


Teri's* story

"My daughter saw two people kissing and I was truly shocked when she turned and said Daddy is doing that to me.

It turned out that he was getting her to do other sexual acts on him as well so straight away I called the Police and Social Services.

It was all very frustrating because the Police couldn't take any action because my daughter wasn't able to come out and say anything to them.

Social Services came out to see us but then we weren't allocated a social worker straight away and I got really anxious waiting and waiting and worrying about my daughter. Things seemed to be moving very slowly so I called the NSPCC to see if there was anything else I could do. I had already stopped the contact between my daughter and her father before she told me about the abuse.

I was at the end of my tether when I called the NSPCC because I really didn't know what to do or how to help my daughter move on. She's only five. When I called and talked it through with the adviser, he pointed out that I shouldn't blame myself for what happened and that it wasn't my fault.

After speaking to the adviser on the NSPCC's helpline I felt a bit more confident that it wasn't my fault and there wasn't anything I could have done to prevent it. He also pointed out that while I couldn't have done anything to prevent the abuse, there was something I could do now by trying to be there for my daughter. He gave me ideas on how to speak to her and where to go for help and who to speak to.

After speaking to the NSPCC things got better. After that I was prepared to help her take the next step and try to move on and realise it wasn't going to happen again. I could reassure her that she was safe from now on and I wasn't going to let anything else happen to her.

If I hadn't phoned the NSPCC I wouldn't have known how to help her. Now I'm more aware that there are people out there who are willing to help you and you really should not be frightened to ask for help because you're not going to be judged. There are organisations out there that are willing to help you and your children.

My daughter is much happier now and more confident. She has made loads of friends and wants to go to school. She's more like the person she was when she was a baby and the signs that there was something wrong with her but she wouldn't tell me about, they are all slowly, gradually going away.

I would definitely use the NSPCC helpline again if I needed to. If I know of a child that's being neglected or whatever, your organisation can make things better for that child with advice or by helping out the parents. And if anyone came forward to me and had concerns about something like my daughter, the first thing I would say to them would be to contact you.

It's made me think differently about my own future as well. I want to start doing some courses now so I can start being a social worker or carer or something like that. I just want to be there now to help other children in need and to just generally work with children and offer support if they've been through some trauma."


Dan's* story

Dan called the NSPCC when he found out that his 12-year-old daughter had been sexually abused by his ex-wife's new partner. He wasn't sure about the best course of action so he decided to call the NSPCC helpline for advice.

"When I first found out that it happened I was very upset and very angry. The last thing I wanted to do was talk to anyone. I wanted to go round and beat the guy up.

It was very good to speak to someone on the NSPCC helpline because it calmed me down and gave me other avenues to go down. After that I was able to think rationally about it all and act like an adult instead of taking the childish attitude of lashing out.

The person at the helpline gave me advice on what to do and how to approach my daughter about this very difficult issue. After the chat with them, I spoke to my daughter and to the police. Hearing how the adviser spoke calmed everything down. I thought that's how I'm going to speak to my daughter.

When I spoke to the police they were very helpful and concerned but they needed my daughter to make a statement.

My daughter wasn't going to speak to anyone at first. Then I had a chat with her and said if it was me personally I think it would be better if you did talk about it and get it off your chest so it won't build up for years and years.

We left the conversation and later on in the evening she just turned round and said so you think it would be better if I do talk to someone. And I said 'Yes' and then she phoned me a couple of days later and said 'I've just spoken to a counsellor about it'.

I was really pleased that I helped her out. I would definitely recommend the NSPCC helpline service to others. I found it very helpful to me and my family."

*Disclaimer: With their agreement, all names and potentially identifying details have been changed to protect the identity of the callers.

Advice for parents on sexual abuse

For more advice on how parents can help protect their children from sexual abuse, read our Help and Advice for parents or download our free guide 'What can I do?'.

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Sexual abuse advice for parents

Read our advice on the sexual behaviour of children and teenagers and how to talk to them about sexual abuse.

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Download What can I do: guide for parents

Our free guide 'What can I do?' which provides more information and advice on how to protect your child from sexual abuse.

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