FARMINGTON, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – A mother of five is sharing a story of healing, after learning her husband was sexually abusing their daughters.
As difficult as it is for Kristin Parry and her children to relive their traumatic experiences, they are doing that this month to help spread awareness for National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
Parry’s husband had been sexually abusing their daughters for years, but she knew nothing about it until March 2011.
“I got a knock on my door from the police, who said an accusation had been made by [my] younger daughter,” Parry recalled.
That, she says, was the first time she ever had any indication of the situation.
“We had been married 15 years,” Parry said.
At the time, Parry says she loved their lives. The parents lived in a neighborhood in Bountiful, where they were active participants of their church. Her then husband Stephen Coleman worked in the Office of the Governor.
He had also been abusing his daughters for as long as they can remember.
“It was something that was very normal to them. They didn’t like it, but as my daughter put it, she didn’t like putting the dishwasher [dishes] away either,” Parry explained.
It was not until the 3rd and 5th grade girls heard a special presentation at school one day that they realized the gravity of what was happening.
As part of its ongoing education effort, Prevent Child Abuse Utah had gone in to the girls’ classrooms to teach students about the different forms of abuse — neglect, physical, emotional, and sexual. That is when Parry’s oldest daughter started asking questions.
“She actually raised her hand and asked if everyone who did this went to jail,” Parry said.
Even her 3rd grader knew they needed help. She told her friends during recess, whose parents filed a referral with Child Protective Services, and days later, officers came knocking at their door.
Coleman is now serving two sentences of 15 years to life in prison for sex abuse, rape, and sodomy of a child.
For the Parry and the girls, healing is a process.
“Sometimes they are in therapy, and then sometimes they’re okay,” she said.
The family now lives with the dedicated mom’s new husband, Jeff. With great resources like PCAU and a whole community of support, they are mending their lives one step at a time.
“It affects you in different areas of your life, and we just need to be really sensitive to that,” Parry explained.
Speaking of being sensitive, members of the public have the chance to help raise awareness as part of Child Abuse Prevention Month by buying and planting pinwheels in yards and businesses, where people can see them. You can find more information on how to do that here.
Data shows nationally, one in four girls and one in six boys will be abused by the time they are 18. Experts say in Utah, the most common type of child abuse is sexual abuse.