My toddler is 2 and twice she has screamed for hours straight. Last night she screamed "no" for 3hrs straight, panicked more when I tried to hold her to calm her down, and was calling for her "TT" (her auntie she spend the night with occasionally). I don't feel it was a nightmare because she was awake but I'm just worried, she was perfectly fine then out of nowhere started screaming no in like a painful terrified voice.. What should I do? (PS already planning to take her to the ER to ensure she hasn't been sexually abused)

  • 3
    could it possibly be a night terror? These can look like the child is awake, but is a dream... The doctor will likely know...
    – WRX
    Dec 27, 2016 at 3:07
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    If you're worried about sexual abuse, please don't take her to the emergency room. Take her to her doctor who hopefully has a fair amount of training in pediatrics. Dec 27, 2016 at 3:21

2 Answers 2


Sounds like classic symptoms of a night terror, which is when the child seems to wake up in the middle of the night, but they are not actually awake, more like sleepwalking. They may not even recognize Mom or Dad because they are still in their dream state.

It is terrifying for the parents to watch, but usually the child has no memory of it the next day, and does not affect them psychologically afterwards.

3 hours is very long, though. Typically these should last an hour or less. Definitely call your doctor to consult.


I would like to know if you truly suspect sexual abuse or if you just cannot figure out why your daughter is so upset.

It really does sound like a classic night terror to me. These are terrifying to observers too. Often you would be certain the child is awake, but they are sleeping.

There are other symptoms of sexual abuse though. Are you seeing them? These might include, fear of a diaper change, fear of the potty, new fear of a person or persons or strangers. (This also can by cyclic with children -- all kids 'make strange' some of the time.) There maybe signs of bruising or redness or rough patches of skin. Sexual abuse is a very scary thought. I agree with anongoodnurse that your pediatrician is a far better choice than the ER.

  • She doesn't have a regular pediatrician since she goes to the health dept. I honestly don't know it's odd she was calling for her auntie through the mix of everything, I mean she's whined while being bathed down there but I assumed she's like me and can't handle things like bubble bath so I just lightly use a damp washcloth.. My ex (which its his family that she calls auntie) has been molested by a family member before (the person has since died) so Idk if I'm just overly paranoid about everything
    – Britt
    Dec 27, 2016 at 19:47
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    Then if you must use the Health Dept., please call and make an appointment. Tell them that your child is having three hour long night terrors and that you have a concern that she may have been sexually abused. Ask for them to find a person qualified to deal with a very young child in that situation. Try not to ask her yourself. Do not put words in her mouth. A trained professional is the only way to make sure she has not been hurt. That said, I still think it is more likely that changes in her life or 'just' bad dreams are the root of the problem. I wish you luck.
    – WRX
    Dec 27, 2016 at 20:26

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