I’m Scared My Husband May Molest Our Daughter

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Reader’s Question

When my husband and I first met, our relationship started as a way for us to satisfy a sexual fantasy we both had, namely “daddy/daughter” role-play. I usually posed as an under-aged girl, which I was not, and he always posed as a daddy figure. Sometimes, I’d even pose as a mother to a younger girl. To me this was never more than a role-play. I would never actually be part of an incestuous relationship. The idea of under-aged sex or doing sexual things with my family in real life is as disgusting to me as it would be to any normal person. But the fantasy of these things is not; I have always found it arousing.

Eventually our relationship moved beyond the sexual fantasy, and we began to start a more normal life. The role-play was still there when we had sex, but it was less extreme and the rest of the time we spent together was just like any other couple. After a little over a year of this, I found out I was pregnant. My husband (then boyfriend) was excited about the pregnancy, because he was getting older and was starting to regret not having children. I was shocked, but quickly also became excited and we eagerly awaited the arrival of our little bundle, which turned out to be a girl. We were married a month after she was born, and she is now five months old.

Since our daughter arrived, I have lost all interest in the role-play we used to do. I shudder to think I ever even participated in this type of fantasy.

Now I have started to distrust my husband. Sometimes I think of the things he said and did in some of our more extreme role-play, and I’m terrified that he really will act that out with our daughter when she gets older. I can’t make myself trust him with her. He has never done anything noticeable with her to make me suspicious, but I still can’t shake the fear. Sometimes I am almost ready to take her and flee.

Do I have good reason to be suspicious, or am I being unfair to my husband?

Psychologist’s Reply

Based on the information you provided, it is hard to say. Sexual fantasies are often just that — fantasies. Consenting adults may participate in non-pathological role-play fantasies that are sexually arousing to them, but that they have no intention of ever carrying out or acting on in the ‘real’ world. Sexual fantasies, although not often talked about, are normal. Most healthy adults engage in some sort of sexual fantasy life. Even fantasies that are considered taboo or deviant may not necessarily be cause for concern and are probably more common than most people realize. Understandably, though, fantasies involving incest and pedophilia can be particularly cringe-inducing and disturbing. Now that you are a parent and have a daughter of your own, it is easy to see how such a fantasy scenario is no longer arousing to you and how your and your husband’s participation in that type of fantasy feels shameful, creepy and icky and raises questions and concerns about your daughter’s safety.

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“The idea of under-aged sex or doing sexual things with family in real life” may be just as “disgusting” to your husband as they are to you; you were, after all, a willing participant in these fantasy scenarios just as he was. Or they might not be. I can neither reliably predict your husband’s future behavior nor state with certainty whether or not your husband will choose to act on these fantasies in inappropriate ways. There are, however, a few things you may want to consider. Non-pathological use of sexual fantasy involves two consulting adults engaging in activities or role-play that they both find sexually arousing, and they are both equal participants with the same level of control. Although the fantasy may involve acting out a power differential or forced domination scenario, both participants are actively involved and consenting — they are playing a role. Such fantasies do not require the forced or coerced participation of an unwilling victim or non-consenting partner and are not harmful or hurtful to the participants. There is a difference between being sexually aroused by children and being sexually aroused by a consenting adult partner playing roles. It sounds like you are assessing the risk and questioning which category your husband’s fantasies fall in, including where the fantasy vs. reality line is drawn for him.

You mention that your husband has “never done anything noticeable” with your daughter to make you suspicious. You don’t mention anything about his relationship with other children or whether he has ever behaved in a way that has given you pause or cause for concern in his interactions with minors. It might be helpful to examine your fears and ask yourself if they are based solely in actions during role-playing fantasies or if his behavior in other areas has raised red flags for you. Pedophilia is a very serious issue. If you believe your husband has ever acted on his fantasy in an inappropriate way with someone other than another consenting adult, then you have cause to be concerned. If your husband has ever violated a child in any way (including viewing child pornography, which is illegal), you should remove your daughter from your home and your husband should be reported to your local authorities (e.g., police department, child protective services) immediately.

You state that you have started to distrust your husband with your daughter and are thinking of ending your relationship. You do not mention whether you have discussed your concerns with your husband. If you have not already tried to talk with him about your fears and how your concerns are affecting you, your relationship and your family, and you feel safe to do so, this might be something to consider, perhaps with the help of a qualified mental health professional. A qualified couples counselor can help both you and your husband sort through and explore these issues, the reality vs. fantasy aspect of the situation and how both affect your relationship, your family and your future. Based on the nature of your concerns and fears, I also believe that it would be helpful for you to get support and explore these issues more in individual counseling. Although uncomfortable to discuss, these issues need to be addressed frankly, openly and honestly in order to assess real vs. imagined risk and safety concerns.

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