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#56937 - 12/22/03 11:55 PM I'm new here...Christmas question
Jewelz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/22/03
Posts: 2
Loc: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Hi there. I'm the wife of a child incest survivor. This is our first Christmas together. He has 2 daughters, I have one son, and we have one on the way. We are supposed to be going to a family function on Christmas Eve where the offender is going to be. My husband is adamant that I don't need to know who this person is, but I don't feel comfortable bringing my son into a family situation where I don't know who I can or cannot trust. I want him to be able to interact with these new family members (it's the first time we're meeting any of them), but I feel like my choice is to either protect him from one or protect him from them all. I know that no one else in his family knows about the incident. My husband got insanely mad at me for asking, and would rather go without me or not go at all than tell me who it is. He wants me to trust that he won't let anything happen to my son, but I need to feel like I am in control of my son's safety, rather than leaving it in someone else's hands. Now I feel like I'm in a lose-lose situation, because he thinks if I know who it is, I will ruin Christmas for him and his girls and everybody there (apparently he thinks I will behave strangely or rudely) and if I don't know then I don't want to go which will also ruin Christmas for him and the girls because then they don't get to go. Can anyone please offer some advice or insight? Do I have the right to know who this person is if I must have my child around her or should I just go in blind and trust my husband? And why does it seem that he's trying to protect the offender instead of my son and me? Thanks for any help you can give.


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#56938 - 12/23/03 01:09 AM Re: I'm new here...Christmas question
James_dup1 Offline


Registered: 04/13/02
Posts: 1332
Loc: Wyoming
Hey,
WOW..what a corner your in. While on one hand your right you have the right to protect your son. Then on the other hand trusting your husband. But I think you need to do what your heart is telling you. If you feel that having your son there with this person isnt safe for him then DONT let him go. I can only speak for myself and not your husband here...but as a survivor I am very shelfish, I feel I can controll everything and everyone. But in reality I cant. As for him protecting this person, well maybe he feels it's his job to protect the family..a lot of us have talked about how we felt it was our job to keep quite about the abuse to protect the family as a whole. Do you and your husband have a therapist? or does he have one? if so maybe talking about this in front of him/her would help keep the fire at bay. If not then all you can do is be honest with him about your feelings. Thats the only thing you can do. And once you have told him how you really feel about this then let him own how he feels. I've seen that a lot of the wives that come here have a hard time not letting us own our feelings. Its not your job to make him see that you feel its not safe to have your son there. It's about him if he has an issue with it NOT you. He will try to make it about it you but it's his anger not yours. If you choice not to have your son there then your excering your right as a mom to protect him. I dont envy you right now. Your in a hard place. I wish you luck.
James

_________________________
I have more issues than Rolling Stone!


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#56939 - 12/23/03 01:43 AM Re: I'm new here...Christmas question
learning2remember Offline
Member

Registered: 10/21/03
Posts: 289
Loc: Europe
I'm facing a somewhat similar situation, but I'm the survivor and I have not told my wife the perpetrator. She does not even know that he is in the family. And we are taking our two sons.

I think you're questions are very fair and important ones, though. It's hard for me because I haven't come out or confronted anyone yet. I just know that I will not leave my boys alone with my brother, and if I have to explain that, then I will.

I know that the contact will be minimal anyway, maybe your husband knows the same thing. Hard to say.

I was pretty sure that my perpetrators--Yes, two of them. \:\( -- would never do anything to my sons. Then I was reading Courage to Heal (written for women but very helpful for me) and in that book they mention how often survivors feel that their children are safe, that the incident will not be repeated, only to discover too late that they were wrong.

So, even though I honestly can't imagine my mother and my brother doing to my children what they did to me, I can't take the risk. (Writing that sentence was very, very painful for me.)

Ask your husband what specific steps you and he can take to protect your son without you knowing the perpetrator's identity.

_________________________
"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy

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#56940 - 12/23/03 02:24 AM Re: I'm new here...Christmas question
Wifey1 Offline
Member

Registered: 12/03/02
Posts: 380
Jewelz,
I can identify some with your plight in this. It is a lot to carry & deal with so early in your marriage.
I do hope that the two of you have sought or are seeking counseling both individually & as a couple. I highly encourage the two of you to do so -- healing & dealing with the abuse issues is so very hard & having a "professional" & group support makes the journey so much easier....
I share on the level of both my hubby & I being survivors... we each knew of "who" each others "abusers" were long ago -- it naturally made the times that we have been around those "abusers" more of a "united front" for the two of us -- mostly cuz we talked about what the "rules" of engagement, or lack of were going to be when faced with such a situation. We even chose to share the information with our kiddos so that in any event they were "alone" with them they could be best prepared to protect themselves & remove themselves without any explanation to anyone but us. (age appropriate for them as they matured)
Understanding that your hubby needs to be in control during this time is important -- how you express your needs to keep the kids (all of them) Safe may be the key in getting what you both need during this very stressful time.
Hubby can only deal with his pain and the "facts" of his abuse at HIS pace... letting you in with the information a little a time perhaps. It is a long held secret that often times is much "easier to hold" than to tell... confrontation or fear of confrontation is a humongous step for any survivor. Just the fear of not being believed by extended family members who didnt "do" the abuse is huge... or the fear that someone else may also disclose at the same time carries its own weight of fear & side effects.
Tonight my own hubby & I had a discussion that was a bit in comparison to your situation. Hubby is traveling for the holidays to visit with his family, his mother will be there & he will have contact with her. He had been asking me "when and if" I was going to make this trip with him. I didnt know if he genuinely wanted me to go with him or not. He stated that he "wanted me definetly" to go as he did not in anyway want to be alone with "her". Not a problem for me.. but I had to know the "rules" of what and how I could or could not respond or talk with her. His "mother" has a way of manipulating him ... he hates it & feels very disempowered by her. My hubby shared with me that he "did NOT" want me to confront her or say anything in angry response if she brought up his disclosure of the SA or the SA itself. In effect his SA is not up for ANY discussion we are to express that & leave if needed.
Ok... I understood what HE needed .. ME to do during this time. (tho as I told hubby i would be just as happy to smack the shit out of this so called "mother")
Perhaps you could approach your hubby with some suggestions... 1) state that you "trust" him to keep the children safe 2) state that you too need to have the information of who the abuser is to keep the kiddos safe so as not to "distrust" Everyone (in effect punishing everyone for one persons behavior) 3)Assure him that you will NEVER disclose the SA information without his express permission (this is very important to follow thru on respecting him to verify that you are trustworthy) 4)Assure him the information gained is not so that you can "use it against him" or will be used in any way to confront or disclose to anyone without his direction.
It never hurts to keep telling him that you "believe" him about his SA... and that you know he is a good father -- parenting is a 2 way street and it takes 2 parents most times to cover when the other is preoccupied. If he is exerting "all of his energy" into protecting the kiddos with out letting on to anyone "who" the risk factor is he wont have any enjoyment during the visit... and truthfully neither will you as most likely time will be spent trying to "figure out" who the abuser is so you can best protect not only the kiddos but your hubby also....
Perhaps sharing that point with him could help? That because you love him so much it is "natural" to want to protect him from further pain but you need to know HOW you can protect him along the way & support him also...
I know its not just a "morbid curosity" -- as parents knowing all the risk factors is important in any situation we place our children into. This is potentially a "high risk" situation for not only the kiddos, but you and hubby.
Perhaps also that since you have children from other relationships & one "together" that you not "split" the kiddos during this time. This could create a mine, yours & ours situation that could be in the long run unhealthy for your family.
The other part of being a partner is sometimes biting the bullet & expressing your needs clearly & choosing to either live with not knowing & teaching the ALL the kiddos about SA (age appropriate for them) --- allowing time for your hubby to deal with coming to terms with working together to find a happy medium for these types of gatherings or deciding for yourself to remove yourself & not attend the functions.
Of course you have many options available on how you and the two of you handle these types of functions... the important thing to remember is how one is prepared to "back up" those boundaries & decisions.
Trust in your relationship is a probable long ongoing issue in many aspects not just potential exposure to a known abuser. It is difficult as a partner to trust someone who is so wounded --- and even sometimes to trust ourselves. Its even harder for our survivor partners to "trust us" to not cross their boundaries and even for them to "trust that we believe them".
One of the effects of the abuse often is that "even if I tell/ told no one will / would ever believe". Many times & probably more likely than not "we" as partners are the "first trusted" person that the survivor shares with. HOW we take care of the trust and Secret is / could be very essential & critical as to how our survivor partners heal & progress the wounds from the abuse.
If possible try not to place yourself in a either or situation or resolves... most times there are some very "grey" options to dealing with the issues. Often there is (in my experience) a lot of "fake it til I make it" times also...
Quote:
And why does it seem that he's trying to protect the offender instead of my son and me?
Perhaps if you could see that it may not be so much about "protecting the abuser" it is possible it is more about protecting "himself" and the kiddos. There is a huge amount of risk in exposing the secret -- and all very valid & scarey possibilities. Confrontation and exposure of SA should only be done in the manner the survivor chooses & has ALL the control in choosing to disclose or not... and with the support and guidance of trusted family, friends & professionals the survivor chooses.
SA is about the survivor... its not about "us" as partners. It "effects us" directly yes,... but we are "secondary survivors". How our partners heal and deal is strictly up to them... we cant "make them" do anything in our time.
I sincerely hope that you come back & share & read the wonderful information here on this site... and more folks will come along with more insight & support...
Peace,
Sammy


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#56941 - 12/23/03 09:10 AM Re: I'm new here...Christmas question
Pollyanna Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/10/03
Posts: 211
Loc: Missouri
Hey Jewelz,

Sammy kinda said it all! She has great insight.

The thing that comes to mind for me is, holiday times are very bonding times for families. You guys are a "new" family, and it seems like it would be very important for it to be a warm and happy time.

For some reason, your husband feels that he can adequately protect the children from this person. He MUST know something that makes him feel that way. I really don't believe he would purposely place any of them in danger just because he didn't feel like "telling". I am sure he will be keeping track of the kids...no doubt you will too!

Personally, I think if I was in your position not knowing who it was, my little brain would be "wondering" about everyone there! However, if he is going to heal, as everyone here says, it has to be on HIS terms, and my "suspicions" would just have to take a back seat until HE is ready...even if it's 10 years down the road...to let me in on it.

You guys have a chance to "be" something special. Please don't let this ruin it, or the person who did this to him WINS. If you trust your husband, he will know he can trust you. Trust is everything.

Have a good one....I think it'll be ok...

Lynn

_________________________
"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up."

Anne Lamott

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#56942 - 12/23/03 10:07 AM Re: I'm new here...Christmas question
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
There is some excellent advice here. Some of it is dealing with the longer-term (like the counseling) and some is from the immediate situation of the family get-together.

Sammy wrote:
Quote:
Perhaps you could approach your hubby with some suggestions... 1) state that you "trust" him to keep the children safe 2) state that you too need to have the information of who the abuser is to keep the kiddos safe so as not to "distrust" Everyone (in effect punishing everyone for one persons behavior) 3)Assure him that you will NEVER disclose the SA information without his express permission (this is very important to follow thru on respecting him to verify that you are trustworthy) 4)Assure him the information gained is not so that you can "use it against him" or will be used in any way to confront or disclose to anyone without his direction.
Without knowing the specifics of the abuse or abuser, I can say that having worked with abusers for many years, there is almost always a premeditation, a set up, and a way to isolate the potential victim from protective parents or witnesses.

Rather than going to the function as if you were playing "Clue" (Is it Col. Mustard in the Billiard Room with a candelabra?), your kids are not going to be ambushed by a sudden attack by the abuser while you are preoccupied somewhere else. I suspect you and the kids will be close together, particularly since you and they don't know these folks.

I wouldn't push him to reveal the abuser if he is not ready at this time. There are several issues. Safety is primary but given the circumstances just mentioned, I don't think that the kids will be at risk, even if you don't know who the culprit is. Making him disclose when he is not ready to deal with it can put him in a position of premature disclosue and feel like a re-victimization (which will not improve your relationship... even if you feel it is for "his own good".)


Try to relax and be assured as you get to know his family, he will in time reveal the identity if and when he is ready. It's appropriate to be vigilant, as you would in any situation involving your kids, but try not to be hypervigilant as it will make for a tense and unpleasant evening (and probably label you in his family as some kind of oddball.)

Ken


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#56943 - 12/23/03 12:23 PM Re: I'm new here...Christmas question
Sinking Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 09/26/03
Posts: 577
Loc: Took my ball and went home.
Jewelz - I bet you're saying to yourself right about now, 'Boy, did I come to the right place". I assure you, you have.

Everyone above has offered some excellent advice. I don't have an awful lot more to add. But I would like you to keep in mind that your husband has shown a great deal of love and trust in you and for you by telling you about the abuse and that this mystery person will be there. You might want to acknowledge his trust by telling him that you understand how difficult it must have been to share. At least you're not going in totally blind and unaware. I agree that it puts you in an uncomfortable postion by not knowing who, but from your post I sense that you are an intelligent person who now has the knowledge and the tools to get through the gathering in a way that you can all have some level of comfort. As Ken said, you will be vigilant, as you are in all situations.

I wonder if it might help to talk to your husband about setting some ground rules. Since these people are unfamiliar to you and your children, there should be no reason why they would need to be alone with an adult, other than you and your husband, at any time during the gathering. If you need to leave the room, or if he needs to, let eachother know so that one of you can always have an eye on the kids. This could be presented as a sort of compromise...he doesn't need to tell you now who this person is and you can attend with the children and feel relaxed.

One final suggestion would be to share your post and the answers that followed. I don't know if he is aware of this site or not. But if you think he would be receptive, you could print this out and show it to him. But consider that carefully. If he does not know that you posted here, he may feel that you have betrayed his trust, even anonymously, by coming here.

I wish you peace over the Holiday. I think you can get through this together and when you do it will be a huge accomplishment for you both, for the children and for the new family unit as a whole.
Peace.


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#56944 - 12/23/03 12:25 PM Re: I'm new here...Christmas question
Jewelz Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/22/03
Posts: 2
Loc: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Thanks to everyone who replied. Your insights and comments have helped me a great deal. Any attempts at further discussion with my husband have quickly hit a brick wall, and apparently he does not consider going without me or not going at all an option, as he had mentioned in our argument. So I have no choice but to go and trust him and hope for the best. I'm not at all happy about it, and I probably will be over-protective and suspicious of everyone. Wish me luck, and I hope you all have a happy holiday too.


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#56945 - 12/23/03 01:49 PM Re: I'm new here...Christmas question
The Dean Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 07/15/02
Posts: 2080
Loc: Milwaukee, WI
Jewelz, you have lots of solid advice already.

You love this man, your husband, with whom you are having a child. It would seem very difficult for me to know who harmed someone I love, and still act in anyway calmly around them. Possibly your husband feels the neeed to not put you through that. I know you think it then makes you suspicious of all. But, I think you need not be suspicious of anyone.

Someone harmed your husband many years ago. He has leanred to move on and have a good life despite that.

As Ken mentioned, your son and your step-daughters are most likely going to be safe or your husband would make up an excuse to not go at all. You need to trust him there.

Since I was molested many times as a teen, the advice I give parents is, don't use drugs or alcohol that would impair you at this crucial time. And, make sure that any sleeping arrangments for your son are clearly safe ones.

But Ken gives the advice that makes most sense. Perpetrators groom their victims, they plot a time and place for the assault. A large family gathering does not give time for that. Your son will probably be a bit bashful except with other kids near his age. I believe he will be safe. I hope you can trust that he will be and can enjoy meeting your husbands family and celebrating the holidays.

Let us know how it goes and what you learn so that we can all have a better idea of how to handle these kinds of situations.

Peace be with you.

Bob

_________________________
If we do not live what we believe, then we will begin to believe what we live.

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#56946 - 12/23/03 10:57 PM Re: I'm new here...Christmas question
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Jewelz, I'm with Bob. It's hard not to behave strangely or rudely around someone if you know what kind of scum they are.

Reading this thread has been somewhat hard for me. I hope what I'm about to say won't trigger anyone else but I think it might.

My mother would give me very vague, strange "warnings" before going to family events--she'd say things like "No one has to hug you if you don't want to be hugged" or "Just be careful around anyone who makes you uncomfortable"... things that are fine to say to a kid I guess but she said them in this very ominous way and always as we were headed out the door to visit relatives. As I got older and started developing, she'd say less benign but still vague things, like "You know there are some people who..." She would also check what I was wearing--make sure that I had lots of layers on and no short skirts, so that I wouldn't look sexy at all (this was terribly inappropriate and weird anyway, I was like 11), and she made it clear that this "checking" was also a precaution against abuse.

I don't think this made me any safer in any way. It made me worried about whether or not I should trust or love relatives who I did trust and love anyway, and who were harmless (at least to me). It gave me a lot of anxiety about relationships with uncles, aunts, grandparents, that were actually much safer and healthier for me than any relationships I had at home.

I don't know if my mother said these things because of anything that had happened to her or my father (she said it as we were off to visit both sides of the family). She certainly never said anything more specific, and nothing ever happened to me at a family event. Because my mother was insane and abusive anyway, and especially paranoid and hostile about my life as a sexual being, it was easy for me to think of these "warnings" as a) just more of her weirdness or b) a way to keep me from telling anyone about what happened at home or c) when it was directed at my father's side of the family, more about her issues with them than about anything that had actually happened. I think of these warnings as a part of my abuse.

If I'd never been abused, I still don't think that being "warned" or "prepared" this way would have done anything except make me nervous and uncomfortable around people who loved me (and still do). Because of my mother's other behavior, I've always assumed that none of what she said had any basis in truth, at all. And even if it did, even if it had something to do with her own experience, then I don't actually care. It doesn't change what she did to me and it doesn't change my generally good feelings for my extended family.

And it doesn't change the fact that I never have and never will let my own kids be alone with her. Even though she's there sometimes when we go to family functions (she will probably be at dinner tomorrow), I don't warn my kids away from her, I don't prep them beforehand about not to listen to what she says. I let them accept her gifts and say thank you and then we go into another room and if she has something to say to them, she says it in front of me. And since I am clearly very angry at her and very independent from her, that usually keeps her far away from all of us.

Jewelz my heart goes out to you and anyone else reading this who has to have their holidays screwed up by this kind of nonsense. I hope we can all have a joyful time anyway, with the people who deserve to share our joy.

Sar


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