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accusations of sexual abuse
October 17, 2006
12:02 pm
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laurak46
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Hello! I have a dilemma - my mother just passed away 4 months ago and we are dealing with that loss. I have 3 siblings, 2 sisters and one brother and I am the youngest in the bunch. I am 36 years old and I have 2 small children, ages 6 & 8. The question I have is a few days ago, my 19 year old niece made an accusation that my father tried to get her to let him put his hands down her pants and touch her inappropriately. My niece also has a track record of lying. My sister, which is the oldest sibling, has now stated that my father tried the same thing with her when she was 15/16 and she told him to stop and he did. According to her he tried it twice and that was it.
We are confused about the whole situation. My brother confronted my father and he denied touch my niece and was very upset about it. We encouraged my niece to file a report if this did occur. My sister is made because now she feels we do not believe her and we are having a difficult ime believing it. Also, my father is 65, very unhealthy, has seizures regularly, cannont walk without a cane, has a cast on one arm because he broke the bone that runs from his thumb to his wrist and constantly falls. The problem is we don't want to discount what either are saying becuase we want to protect our children but we are having a difficult time accpeting their accusations. Myself, my brother and my other sister have stated that he never tried anything with us. Any advice would help.
Thanks

October 17, 2006
12:12 pm
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ScaredinMichigan
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I wouldn't assume it is true, but I would be VERY careful. It is a one against one thing. But, you don't want to blow off something that may be true especially if you have children that have gone over there. Do you? Have they ever given you any reason to believe that they are uncomfortable? Just because it didn't happen to all four of you (you and your siblings) doesn't mean it did not happen to one. Molestation is often overlooked, and ignored, but very RARELY is it lied about. I am just asking you to be VERY careful. Don't tell your sister that you don't believe them, but there is nothing that you can do except protect yourself and your children. This is your father, you don't want to believe that he is capable of such things, but it is often times the people that we love and trust the most.

Scared

October 17, 2006
12:35 pm
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jastypes
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My dad touched me once. He touched my younger sister twice. He never touched my older sister. I confronted him this year, and he apologized to me. Then my daughter came to me and told me he touched her at the last Christmas party. I so do not want to believe her. I want to deny it. I want to think she heard me talk about him and transferred this to herself. I want to believe he may have "accidentally" brushed against her. But in the end, I had to tell my both my daughter, I believe you, and now both my girls have been told they should NEVER be alone with him.

October 17, 2006
1:27 pm
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ggfred4
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Laurak, this is hard for me to write because I will see my dad tonight. I did not remember any wrongdoing until my girls were in elem.school and didn't understand why I did not want them to stay at my parents w/o me. Well, memories started coming piece by piece and it has been on a downfall because it has never been discussed. My dad now has colon cancer and I just feel guilty and mad. No one knows at all because I know what it will do to the family. So yes, it has been my secret and it will stay that way. I rather one life be messed up rather than involve more. This may be wrong and yes, my dad is off the hook, but he does have cancer??? Just had to give my input, don't use it as advice, ok?

October 17, 2006
1:33 pm
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ggfred4
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gosh, I don't know if he messed with my sisters either; none of us are close. Gosh, wish I could delete above statement...Like I said, don't take my advice...just listen to my story.

October 17, 2006
1:46 pm
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ScaredinMichigan
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GG-

YOU ARE FINE....Relax honey, you are trying to be helpful, and beating yourself up over it. You did the right thing.

Scared

October 17, 2006
7:01 pm
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laurak46
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Thanks so much for all the stories and advice. I really appreicate it. Family stuff can really suck sometimes - I wish my mom were here - she would not tolerate this accused behavior at all.
Thanks,

October 17, 2006
8:59 pm
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ScaredinMichigan
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HOw are you sure that this is accused behavior? Or are you thinking it may be true. To the best of what I read, everyone here is saying it is possible, and even likely. Be very careful if your blaming one for lying, or one for doing it. You have no proof either way. It is a VERY touchy subject for some of us around here to not be believed. We come here because people do believe us. When our families and friends would not.

October 17, 2006
9:36 pm
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Worried_Dad
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Well it is a dilemma.

On theone hand people do occasionally fib about that stuff--especially if coached or put up to it.

To go along with false accusations would be abuse against your father.

On the other hand, to dis-believe and invalidate a victimized person's experience is harmful to the victim.

Look for ulterior motive--is there any benefit that your niece or someone else might conceivably get from lying about this abuse?

And, if is true, is there really any justice that can be exacted on the old man? It looks like your Dad is not long for this world, after all.

Whether he did it or not, your Dad is in no shape to leave children alone with, so it's hard to say where you ought to go with this.

I would tend to err on the side of your sister and niece. If it just comes down to simply validating their experience, then there is no real harm done whether what they say is true or not.

But if it really happened, then expressing disbelief will be harmful to the victims.

October 18, 2006
11:49 am
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ScaredinMichigan
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Thanks WD,

You put it a little more politely than I did I think. It is just a very touchy subject for me. The people that didn't believe me are the ones that hurt me more than the ones that abused me most days I think. Thanks again WD.

Scared

October 18, 2006
12:17 pm
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atalose
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Laura,

I can't imagine what you must be going thru, my prayers go out to you.
I think your sister and niece are looking for validation, talking, listening and keeping things objective may be all you can do at this point.
How is your sister and niece treating your father, do they visit, do they talk? Who does the care taking of him?

Atalose

~~Hope has a place, but not above reality~~

October 18, 2006
12:22 pm
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revelation
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Hi.

It is a difficult situation you are in. Look I do counselling for people in these sorts of situations all the time.

Here is just some food for thought, these are things I learned in my [email protected]

When someone alleges abuse, the worst thing you can do is not believe, or appear not to believe...it can be almost as painful as psychologically damaging as the actual abuse.

When someone alleges abuse, in general it takes a lot of guts to do so...its also a very risky thing to do...think about this...put yourself in their shoes...Don't you think they are already aware of what this could do to your family? Do you believe that either of the two accusers would take such a risk just for attention or whatever?

You need to tread really carefully here...I get from your post that you are quite confused by all this. Now one thing that you cannot let colour your views on this is your Dad's age and frailty, I'm sorry, but that just cannot come into it...because if he did abuse, then he did wrong, whether he's weak or strong now doesn't matter. So, don't let that colour your views. I understand this is your Dad...if anyone made such an accusation about my Dad I'd be shocked appaled and immediately protective, but my training would kick and I would just HAVE to listen to the accuser without judgement...I would owe that to myself, as you owe it to yourself.

Whats your gut instinct on this...don't answer that straight away, it can sometimes be very very scary to listen to our gut instinct, but never the less its there niggling away at us!! What was your relationship with your dad like? Is there anything about his past or your past that you have doubts about?

I'm not trying to coerce you here...I'm just trying to guide you in the direction of sitting down somewhere alone perhaps with pen and paper and just think about stuff, don't think about all the different personalities in your family, or how they will feel about how you feel...just be alone, with nobody to judge and write what you feel about all of this...whats your inner thoughts saying about it. You have no need to ever show what you have written down to anyone...but you'll find that once you know how you really feel about this and what your gut instinct is about this, you'll be able to help all of these people and not damage yourself in the process.

I hope this helps.

Maxine.

October 18, 2006
12:24 pm
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revelation
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And I wrote my real name!!! I knew I'd do it someday!! Ah well...I have nothing to hide from any of you here!

October 18, 2006
7:41 pm
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sleepless in uk
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Ah But my dear Rev...Have you forgotten we had already sleuthed that one out of you with Maxwell's silver hammer on the Beatles thread??

How you doing?

Laurak I agree with the majority here. My inclination would be not to disbelieve your neice out of hand. It could be very damaging to her. This must be very very difficult for you though so I understand why you are struggling

My very best to you....

October 18, 2006
8:03 pm
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revelation
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Yes, I knew there were a few of you who knew my infamous celebrity twin from coronation street!!

I'm doing fine, how you? Having wierd dreams and looking for interpretation on another thread.

Laurak, I do not wish to hijack your post on such a serious issue, please give us an update as soon as possible on how you are feeling ok?

October 18, 2006
8:59 pm
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lovetocrochet
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Hi Laurak,

I lean towards what revelation/Maxine and Worried Dad have to say...

The fact is, you have two people giving consistent testimony. Even if you only had your niece making this claim I'd still lend her credibility.

I say this as someone who finally disclosed this past year that my father and brother were sexually abusive while my mother stood by, did nothing, and later condoned their behaviors. The majority of my extended family from what I've been told, does NOT believe me. Some do, but most don't.

So their little ones are still around these people, unprotected from them because everyone thinks they're the perfect family and I'm a black sheep freak who's just making things up for attention - that's how I've always been made out by my bio-family. That to me is frightening, that and the prospect of, what if someone else got hurt by them and now that everyone's bashing me, they're too afraid to speak up?

I felt like I lost my entire family, even if I hadn't spoken to them in four years. It was still a major loss and I felt very betrayed. It's definitely caused problems with my recovery.

I wonder if part of the reason your niece is a habitual liar is because she was abused? Doesn't make it right but sometimes that comes out as an after-effect. After all she was forced to lie most of her life by pretending this never happened around all of you... do you see what I'm saying?

I agree, being sick or frail should have nothing to do with how you handle this - the only thing that should matter is if he takes responsibility should these allegations be true. If your father molested family members and refuses to acknowledge or offer to make restitution for the damage (financial or otherwise), then that means he's potentially justifying his behavior, therefore he's a risk and no children are safe around him, period.

October 18, 2006
9:14 pm
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revelation
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(((lovetocrochet))) How awful for you to have to go through this...it really boils my blood when I hear a story like yours...it never ceases to amaze me just how much people are willing to alter their own reality in order to block the truth out...but honesly, although it will give you little solace now...at the end of the day, their denial is their problem and not yours, I pray to god that they don't pay for it by having one of their children fall victim. Jeez If I could have one wish it would be to take denial out of the human psyche.

October 18, 2006
9:40 pm
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Worried_Dad
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ScaredinMichigan and Revelation have written about the Trauma of Invalidation. It is a form of "re-victimization," or "secondary trauma" and is definitely harmful.

I've worked out a graph of a fanciful 2nd order equation quantifying how traumatic it can be. It looks like an exponential curve.

I visualize the degree of secondary trauma is proportional to the degree of original truama, the degree of invalidation, and the trust or authority we invest in the person doing the invalidation.

It's traumatizing to have our experience invalidated even by a stranger. It's worse from someone who you would expect to believe you like a family member.

I have had an experience of being invalidated and disbelieved like that, and it felt like...infinite trauma. I don't think I will ever recover.

October 18, 2006
9:50 pm
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ScaredinMichigan
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WD

Thanks for making me feel like I wasn't totally off WD. I almost felt bad for my second post here, but I was almost angry. I get so touchy, and I suffer a lot from not being believed. Because it happened to me from the time I was 10-16, before ANYONE listened to me, my mother told me two years ago that I must have liked it or lied about it. Nobody believed me, it wasn't that I didn't try to tell anyone...I lived with the man....what was I supposed to do? Sorry about that angry outburst too. But thanks again...WD. You are still close to my heart over your stepdad.

October 18, 2006
10:28 pm
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red blonde
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Revelation

Can what someone states to you during a traumatic event or shortly afterwards have a dramatic effect on the victim's psyche or life from then on?

Red

October 18, 2006
10:31 pm
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ScaredinMichigan
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red,

I am here to tell you that it has mine...

October 18, 2006
11:48 pm
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lolli
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laurak,

First of all, it takes a lot of courage to be willing to explore this painful issue. My heart is with you... I'm sure this must be a difficult time for you, especially with your father's medical condition.
This is probably not a time (if there ever was one) when you would want to believe something so painful about your father.

As a sexual abuse survivor who had repressed the memory of it for many years... I can tell you that one of the things that plagues survivors is the idea that they may be somehow "lying" or "making it up." The overwhelming tendency for survivors is to doubt, deny, downplay, minimize and coverup sexual abuse. I have not heard of any cases of survivors exaggerating abuse...

About the lying/making it up-- while this does occur, it is very rare and usually happens when the person making it up has something to gain (i.e., custody battle, financial battles/extortion).

Are your neice/sister asking for money or known for filing lots of lawsuits? If not, I think (even though it is the hardest thing and the LAST thing you'd want to believe) you should seriously take a look at the possibility that your neice and sister are telling the truth and that everyone else in the family is going through a natural reaction to an EXTREMELY painful subject... denial.

You said that your neice has a history of lying... this makes me wonder about 2 things.

1- does your sis have a history of lying also?

2- most survivors develop unhealthy patterns in life stemming from having to keep the secret of sexual abuse... one of these unhealty behaviors is LYING.

I know this complicates things, but please understand that the lying comes from a coping mechanism. It is because they have had to keep a very hurtful secret and have been LYING to themselves and others for so long about the abuse (i.e., minimizing or even denying it). So this spills over into other parts of their lives. It is difficult or maybe even impossible to lie to yourself while being truthful to others.

Another way you might be able to tell if she really has been sexually abused is to think about if she has any symptoms. You can find a good list here:

http://www.aaets.org/article120.htm

Also, you should be able to find some truth (as hard as it will be) in her reactions. Most people unless they are AMAZING Academy Award caliber actors simply cannot fake the amount of grief and inner pain that a true sexual abuse disclosure entails.

Finally, it is possible that your sis was abused and you weren't. Why parents "choose" to abuse or attempt to abuse some children but not others is really a mystery, but I know from the many, many books I've read on the subject that it does happen.

I am so sorry that I couldn't reassure you more the other way. I am sorry for your pain and the pain of your family. I am sorry sexual abuse happens at all. I am sorry as humans we ever have to deal with these kinds of traumatic issues.

I hope this helps you in some way. Please know that you are not alone in trying to sort through reality/the past/your feelings. May God (or whoever/whatever you believe in) give you strength to deal with this and heal from it - no matter which way it works out. ((laurak))

October 19, 2006
5:44 am
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revelation
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Um guys...I hate to sound pompous...but I think maybe there is a reason why Laurak is not replying here...this may all be too hard for her to face up to...I could be wrong...

Red...what someome states to you? I've seen it yes, I've seen people who have had the most horrific assaults imaginable, but are dwelling on the fact that during the assault their abuser called them ugly...statements can wound just as much as physical assaults, verbal abuse is just as damaging (On the psyche) as physical abuse, the difference is with physical abuse, the injuries are also external.
Can it effect them for the rest of their lives? The short answer is: Only If they let it...some people especially if abused repeatedly from a young age, can grow to adulthood with a "victim mentality" what you'd call "Beaten down", chronic low self-esteem, vulnerability, in fact, some are almost more comfortable when in an abusive environment than when in a healthy environment...its not so much an addiction to abuse, or an addiction to drama, it more of a fear of change...abuse is what they are used to...anything else is to much of a change. Do you get me? But...this is only some people. There are others, who with time become self-aware, become aware that this is a problem effecting their lives, they have a goal, a determination to live a happy healthy abuse-free life, so they go and get help.

I know, there are people who completely poo-poo the idea of psychotherapy, I speak to women older than me all the time who say "Oh no, tried it, didn't work, not going to try again" And its hard to listen to them then go on about how depression, anxiety and ill-health is plaguing their lives. Therapy of some description is vital...but I'd say one thing about therapy, before you do it, you honestly have to have an idea in your head about where you would like it to lead you. I'm in therapy myself as I was emotionally abused in my last relationship, I have a picture in my head of me happy, having fun, out somewhere with friends, confident and successful, thats my goal, thats what I hope to get out of therapy....a mistake that people often make, is that they expect to go talk to a therapist a couple of times, and the therapist is going to give them a few magic words which will make them feel better...therapists ain't really supposed to give advice...they are their to help YOU find your own answers!

Anyway, I digress...my point is, to answer your question red, if you have been assaulted or abused in any way and you feel its effecting some or all facets of your life and will continue to do so...then its really up to you to have the determination to get help.

Rev.

October 19, 2006
8:24 pm
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revelation
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bumping this for laurak in case she comes back and also for red blonde.

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