Child molestation at daycare and keeping it together
June 6, 2021 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Our little one recently told us she was "touched" (translate to molested) by a person who live in her daycare (it's an in home childcare). While the official inquiry is ongoing, I need help to keep the family together.

She's about to turn 3 yo, to me and my partner there's way more than enough info to establish that it happened (spontaneous declarations, gestures, things she doesn't know, ....), but she hasn't "said the right things" during the official police interview and there was no spontaneous confession from the accused so this is likely to end without official closure. I'm worried about what happens with the daycare, but other people are making sure the leash is ridiculously tight if it ever reopens.

So right now I'm primarily focused on making sure that in the end, there's still a functional family for our little girl. We're both tired, ridden with guilt, stressed, and I'm worried we fight about trivial things and it might start to affect her. We don't have a daycare anymore so she's with us all day and that doesn't leave that much time for us to process this, the pandemic isn't helping us get help also. We're unsure about how to deal with what she says to us and even though we'd like to get more info we don't want to cause her more harm or put words in her mouth. Numerous social workers are supposed to contact us and give us help but everybody is stretched thin so I guess it'll be a while.

So any advice, reading materials, etc on how to deal with situations like this just post it here so I can ingest it.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you contacted RAINN? They have resources for you.

Here is a list of books from another organization.

Here's a link to a pdf from the US Dept of Health and Human Services.

I'm not a social worker or any kind of therapist. I'm a retired librarian, mother, and grandmother. My youngest grandchild is turning three later this year. I hope you have friends and/or family nearby to help you out. You need an occasional break with a trusted babysitter caring for your child.
posted by mareli at 10:40 AM on June 6 [5 favorites]

I'm so sorry that this has happened to you and your family. I agree with the post above but I wanted to add a few more personal things.

I have an abuse history and one of my children went through an experience with another student. When I was abused, it happened over and over, it was - complicated - and it left big scars.

With my child, he was believed, action was taken, he received support and although of course it will be his story to tell as an adult - I think things are pretty good. Obviously it was a terrible situation but his overall memory of it is that his community stepped. Coincidentally, we were talking about it this week, because he was doing a health unit on puberty and they did a bit of good touch/bad touch talking in it, and it hit him all over again that that was abuse.

It's not that he doesn't have bad feelings about it. But the wholeness of the experience for him was not isolation, disbelief, etc.

All your feelings of violation and grief are valid. But for your child, she is believed, now safe, and getting a help. I would recommend you do some family things that bring you joy - "pyjama dance party," "zone out with Dora videos" or whatever, to get through the short term.

When my child had issues - he had an older child expose himself to him and touch his privates, a few times before he told me and we intervened - my approach was not to probe, but we weren't prosecuting it or anything so it might be different. We had trouble with the principal at his school in that while she took the right steps, she thought maybe he had been abused elsewhere instead...until it happened to another child. It upset me so much.

But that part didn't upset my child because from his perspective, we all listened and he was separated from that child, so it wasn't an aspect of the experience that he had to carry. (We did.)

There is no 'fairness' clause that requires that you wait for the social worker promised to your child before accessing other help for yourself or your child. If you can afford it I would try to engage a professional for yourself and your child. If you are in North America your workplace may have an employee assistance plan that can connect you to help (lawyer and counsellor) for a session or two for free or free consultation. It's really worth looking into.

Taking care of yourselves is important too. If you have a friend or family member you can trust and bring into your bubble so that you can have a break, even for an hour or two, I say do it. I don't know where you are or what the rules are where you are, but for example, if a friend could take your child outdoors on a walk even so that you can have a nap or a cry, that would help. I totally get it if that makes you scared and you don't want to! But it's something to consider so that you can get your own oxygen mask on.
posted by warriorqueen at 10:42 AM on June 6 [31 favorites]

File all of this accordingly, with all the heavy shakers-ful of salt inherent in even (or especially!) well-meaning random strangers on the internet situations. Every child's different, as every person is, and in especially in horrible situations it's important to meet people where they are.

Kids will very naturally be aware of and react to the mood and stress of important people, and at that age, you don't (or shouldn't, lord knows there's other horrible situations that complicate that) get more important-people than parents and family. At some levels, she knows her parents are feeling badly, and stressed out; she likely doesn't have the ability to articulate or introspect on that knowing at her age, but she knows. Some of keeping everything the safe it needs to be is helping her not make incorrect connections between the bad things that happened, and the upset that her parents are having.

Which is to say, let her know at appropriate level, that you are very glad and proud of her that she told you. That you're upset because you love her, and it's the parents' job to protect their children, and it's sad and angry-making when bad things happen. Bodily autonomy can always be a blurry and weird thing to grasp, and so much so at very early childhood, and reinforce that she's amazing for recognizing when some authority had no right to do that, and that telling you right away was exactly the thing to do. And that yes, her parents are upset, but not at her.

Now who wants ice cream? (Strong amen corner to doing things of familial joy; it's not a distraction or making-less, it's a reminder and lesson that bad things happen, but the family is safe and there's still so much joy even when you're upset.)

I hope you get connected with (much more; again, I'm just some rando) professional resources soon, and all of this heals clean. Good luck to you all.
posted by Drastic at 10:51 AM on June 6 [13 favorites]

As someone who this has happened to at a slightly older age and kept it secret for many many years - I have been told - learned first hand really - that a large part of what makes a trauma so traumatic is the aftermath of what happens. If your child has told you about this very quickly, and you are caring for, validating and attending to her as you are, my hope is that this will aid with the healing. You sound like wonderful parents. I’m so sorry this happened and am sending good wishes to your family.
posted by cultureclash82 at 2:02 PM on June 6 [7 favorites]

Hi, I'm so sorry about what happened, and I have nothing practical to offer you. But from what you wrote it isn't clear that whether this is a really traumatic situation for your child. My child barely remembers anything from early childhood and even some (at the time, for my child) very traumatic events (like getting accidentally locked in a room alone for some minutes) are now just vague memories that have no emotional meaning. That doesn't mean they didn't have an effect then. I don't know what happened and you obviously don't have to tell me. But I just wanted to point out that this may affect you more than your child, depending on what happened and how she processes it. (And that is all, it is just my own experience, am not any kind of expert).

The second thing is that you should not feel guilty at all. Period. We all do our best and we all place our kids, inevitably, in situations that could possibly end up terrible. Because that's how the world is. You would not have sent her there if you had had any inkling that something like this could happen.

Please stay calm and strong, you will get through this and so will your daughter.
posted by melamakarona at 2:26 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]

And I also agree with cultureclash82: just being calm, supportive, and caring is so important right now, and if your daughter could understand how you are looking for guidance now rather than waiting for social workers, etc., i know she would appreciate it.
posted by melamakarona at 2:29 PM on June 6

Most rape crisis centers have children's units starting from age five. It would be good to make contact anyway and for you and your SO to have some therapy for yourselves. It is unfortunate, but true, that parents of children who experience abuse don't often get support themselves. There is the small chance that your child puts young enough they'll forget the incident, but you won't, which is why counselling is so valuable.
posted by parmanparman at 12:38 AM on June 7

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