A mother whose boyfriend sexually assaulted her daughter in their own home now wants to warn other parents, and 11 News is helping arm parents with the tools you'll need to help keep your kids safe.
"Valerie" (her name has been changed to help protect her daughter) had known her boyfriend, Tim Napier, for more than a year before they started dating. He moved in with Valerie and her two kids. Six months after he moved in, her daughter told her something that shocked her.
"It was on a Sunday, and we were in King Soopers in the parking lot, just pulling in like normal, just going to the grocery store, no big deal," said Valerie. "And she just blurted it out, that he had touched her, and she had done things to him."
Valerie says that now she realizes Napier used the six months living with them to earn the family's trust and get to know their habits.
"He knew when I took my medication," said Valerie. "He knew how long I'd be asleep. He checked to make sure I was asleep."
And Valerie says that's when he made his move on her 12-year-old daughter.
"It was devastating," said Valerie.
"Child abuse often goes undetected for a long period of time because offenders are masters at manipulating not just the child, but everyone around them," said Jan Isaacs Henry, the executive director of Kidpower. She said this is a common approach for abusers.
"You don't think this could really happen," said Valerie. "I mean, this was in your own house."
After the sexual assault, Napier told Valerie's daughter to stay quiet, but she didn't, and in fact she told her mom the next day.
"She knew it was wrong," said Valerie. "She didn't understand why it was happening. She knew it wasn't right, and she knew she didn't want to see him again."
"This child needs to be applauded," said Isaacs Henry, who added that most children don't tell about abuse, and that 90 percent of sexual abuse cases are by people the victims know.
That fact shouldn't scare you as a parent, but encourage you to start laying the groundwork for teaching your children safety techniques.
"Children need to learn that their bodies belong to them and they get to decide if they get touched or not touched for whatever reason," said Isaacs Henry.
As for Napier, a year after he was arrested, he pleaded guilty to the crime. Just last week, two years after the offense, he was sentenced to two years of work release at the El Paso County jail.
When he gets out, he'll be a registered sex offender.
"I was betrayed by someone I thought I knew and my family was betrayed by someone we thought we knew," said Valerie. While the healing process continues for her and her family, she says the experience has brought them even closer.
Issacs Henry advises parents to talk to kids in a way that is not scary or explicit, and to be sure to listen when they talk to you. You can see Isaacs Henry Friday on 11 News This Morning to talk about ways to teach your kids safety.
Following are some of the tools Kidpower passed on for 11 News viewers:
Kidpower Safety Tips - Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse:
1. Teach children to be clear and persistent in setting boundaries and in asking for help.
2. Respect children's boundaries in play, teasing and affection.
3. Teach children that touch, problems and presents should never be secrets and that it's never too late to tell.
4. Teach children that touch for play, teasing or affection needs to be safe.
5. Encourage children to talk about touch they do not like.
6. Teach safety skills without telling scary stories or giving explicit information.
7. Teach children to get help even if someone they care about might be upset or embarrassed.
Children Need to Know These Kidpower Safety Rules:
1. My body belongs to me.
2. For play, teasing or affection, I decide whether I get touched or not.
3. No one should touch me in my private areas (the parts of the body covered by a bathing suit) or ask me to touch them in their private areas. This breaks the safety rules.
4. Touch or other behavior for health or safety is not always a choice, but also should never, EVER, have to be kept a secret.
5. Anything that bothers should not have to be kept a secret.
6. If I have a problem, I need to tell an adult I trust and keep on telling until I get help.
7. It is never too late to get help.
Kidpower Says Children Need to Practice:
1. Saying "No" to unwanted or inappropriate behavior using polite, clear words, eye contact and assertive body language.
2. Persisting even when someone uses bribes, hurt feelings or power to try to pressure them into doing something that makes them feel uncomfortable.
3. Verbal choices for getting out of potentially dangerous situations.
4. Getting the attention of busy adults and telling the details about situations that make them confused or uncomfortable.