Reporting a Family Member: YES OR NO?


I’ve had people reach out to me regarding CRUD ~ that has to deal with sexual abuse at the hands of their own fathers or other family members.

I’d like for us to ponder something regarding sexual abuse at the hands of a family member. Some people are going to get mad at what I say. That’s okay. I’m used to it. You can send me the hate mail or the “don’t judge” messages. But understand…I’m really not doing that here. There is something BIGGER than you and I happening here

Can I ask you to just…THINK about it.

In my ministry, I deal with many people who have been hurt by a family member. So, I get the dynamics…the struggle, the crazy tight rope of loving that person with your whole heart and feeling so betrayed…all at the same time.

As a christian, I believe that Jesus wants me to get to a place…where I forgive. That means I look at the pain of what that person did to me…and I release them from the debt that I think they owe me.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that there’s no consequences for what they did.

When a father touches his daughter in a sexual way, that is a CRIME. When a father, forces his child to touch him or has sex with him, that is a CRIME.

I’m wondering how many fathers who touched their daughters sexually…in the name of “forgiveness” and “keeping the peace”…were allowed to KEEP TOUCHING other little girls & boys because it was never reported?

Here’s just a few of the reasons that people tell me as to why they never told anyone or never reported it to authorities.

He didn’t rape me, Sonya. He only touched me. I’m not going to ruin his life forever just because of that.”

“I couldn’t do that to my mother. Turning him in, that would kill her.”

“I know that he loves me and he says it didn’t happen with anyone else.”

“My family says that they’ll watch him real good, and they won’t let him near me at family events.

He didn’t mean to do it. If I say anything, he’ll go to jail and then what will we do?”

I’ve heard story after story of women & men who were sexually hurt by their fathers or a family member… And they never reported it as a crime, because they wanted to let ‘bygones be bygones’ and move on…and not ‘rock the boat’ and not disrupt the family dynamics…and so on…and so on…and so on.

Make no mistake. When a girl, a boy, a teen, a man, a woman…is touched by a family member…in a sexual way…they are NOT THE ONLY ONES that have been sexually hurt. There are ALWAYS others.

What about this?

If the person bagging your groceries at the grocery store had touched you…the way that this family member touched you…put their hands on you…made you put their hands on them…forced you to do things…did things to you without your consent…that guy would be in jail.

If a persons’ brain allows them to touch their own child (or any child…any human) in a sexual way…to have a romantic relationship with their own flesh and blood child…there is something BROKEN inside of that person.

And they need to get help.
And they need to be reported.
And they need to pay the consequences.


So they do not REPEAT that behavior. So they can’t do it to SOMEBODY else.

If a person is sick… And has had no counseling…no treatment to address the issue…no consequences…then why would they all of a sudden be ‘healed and cured’ from that kind of sickness? Why would they have any reason to stop?

I know what you’re going to say. Jesus can change the hearts of anyone. TRUE. HE CAN. He also provides resources to help…therapy, restricted access, jail, etc., so that the person who committed the crime can get help. Some of you will say jail will NOT help anyone. Maybe so. But does allowing people who commit crimes against kids HELP them or anyone? Not at all. 

Yes. We are to forgive others. We are to release others from the debt that we think they owe us. Just like Jesus released us from the debt that we owed for our sin. But even Jesus allows consequences to come because of sin. He forgives us but He doesn’t always wipe away the consequences.

When we don’t tell…don’t report…sexual abuse, assault, rape…trying to keep the peace, or protect someone, or thinking we’re doing something that brings us closer to Gods heart or His will, we’ve missed it completely. We’ve taken God out of the equation and made the executive decision to handle it ourselves.

Each of us must seek the Lord, seek counseling and godly insight from other healthy believers…in order to hold ourselves and others accountable for their actions. Especially when a CRIME has been committed. 

Consider this, though.

If you go on about your life…and all of a sudden you find out that it happened again, continued on…and let’s say you come face to face with the others…

What will you say?

What words could you say…to the next girl…to the next boy…to the others…who got hurt?

LISTEN. We are not responsible for what someone else does. But we are responsible for what we know. *I can’t control what others do but I CAN control how I respond.

Let’s chew on that for a minute.

If we know that there’s a rattlesnake in the car…we’ve seen it, we’ve been hurt by it…we’ve been bit…and we never tell the ones going into that car…and they get bit…are we in anyway responsible?

We might have thoughts like this:

I hope they watch out for the rattlesnake.”

“Oh, I hope they don’t get bit.”

“It’s not really my place to say anything. If they want to get in the car, that’s their choice.”

“It only bit ME. It might not happen to anyone else.”

“I’m just gonna keep walking because they’ll figure it out themselves.”

“Maybe they won’t even see the rattlesnake and it will be just fine.”

“They’ve been driving that car forever…so what will happen if they can’t drive it anymore?”

“What if I tell them there’s a rattlesnake in the car and that I got bit…and they don’t believe me?”

Or worse yet…what if they say:

How do we KNOW you got bit?”

or “Yeah, you might’ve been bit but you’re fine. What’s the big deal?”

Or “Just make sure you stay away from the rattlesnake.”

“All I’m saying is…I’ve been in that car a lot. The rattlesnake never bit ME, so I don’t know what to tell you.”

Or “What were you wearing when he bit you? If you don’t want to be bit, put more clothes on so he won’t see where to bite you.”

And perhaps this drives home the seriousness of not telling…not reporting a sex crime. If a family member hurt your child in this way or went to your neighbors house and hurt their child…THEY WOULD REPORT IT and there would be probable consequences for their CRIMES.

Just because it happened to YOU…a long time ago, a few times, whatever you want to say to fill in this blank…doesn’t make it any less serious of a crime.

Just because you KNOW the person…or they are your family member, does not make any difference. How will they stop the behavior? How will they get help for their sickness? How will they have the opportunity to work on their issues or (NOT but that’s THEIR choice)? How will the others be protected or at least be warned…on the potential of something serious…life changing…sometimes lethal…because they didn’t KNOW?

Part of God’s plan IS the consequences of our actions. It’s how we learn. It’s how we can make the decision to change. It’s how people are protected. It’s one way we can stop the cycle of sexual abuse and rape of children.

Satan LOVES secrets. He LOVES the dark. He doesn’t want any light to get in.

If you have been hurt by a family member, I’m asking you to pray about “telling” the truth about what happened to you. You can always reach out to me, as well.

Praying for all of us to have the courage to do what the Lord tells us to do.

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Sonya Brunner

Speaker, Singer, Musician, Worship Leader, Life Coach, Writer, and the founder of Fifty Shades of Grace & the Crud Talk podcast. "I help people learn how to deal with the pain of their past so they can live in freedom. Got Crud? Let's deal with it."

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