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#68291 - 01/05/07 11:20 AM What's normal?
womanwithquestions Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/07
Posts: 3
Loc: Upstate New York
I don't know who to ask about this, and I'm hoping someone here can help. At what age should a boy no longer sleep in the same bed with a male relative when another bed is available? Also, I keep reading that a sign of sexual abuse is age-inappropriate knowledge of or interest in sex, sexual organs, etc. Since I don't have children, I have no clue what is age appropriate and what is not. Where can I find out more specific information? Thanks.


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#68292 - 01/05/07 01:55 PM Re: What's normal?
Nobbynobs Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/26/05
Posts: 1286
Loc: Toronto
Hi WWQ and welcome. I'm not sure of the answers to your question about the signs of abuse, although I think one of the admins should have a resource for you, but to answer your first question, as a father be extremely uncomfortable with any male relative sleeping in the same bed as my son. At any age. Curling up on the sofa with grandpa is one thing, but in a bed? No.

Hope that helps.

_________________________
When you go up to the bell, ring it! Or don't go up to the bell.

- Mel Brooks

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#68293 - 01/05/07 02:54 PM Re: What's normal?
sweet-n-sour Offline
Member

Registered: 10/03/06
Posts: 409
Loc: chicago
Dear Womanwithquestions:
"At what age should a boy no longer sleep in the same bed with a male relative when another bed is available?" This is an excellent question and one that even if you find an answer to outside of this forum, I hope that you will share with us.
Just smack dab after my H's disclosure this past summer, I had learned our young son was involved in some "discovery" type of play with his friends. I'm sure most can relate to the timing of this and how H and I reacted. I immediately consulted the pediatrician and he assured me that what had occured was typical for that age. Once H and I began therapy I also ran what had happened past the therapist and he agreed with the pediatrician. Just after speaking to the pediatrician however, I did notify the parents of the boys that were involoved suggesting that more adult supervision was needed. In addition, I wanted them to be aware just in case one of the boys was being harmed by someone older and in turn acting out with their friends. One of the mothers admitted that her son had knowledge far beyond his years about s^# and that she had consulted her pediatrician regarding this issue months prior to him befriending my son. I'm not sure what the situation was; but by the end of the summer she withdrew her son from the school that he and my boy attended and has done her best to keep our kids from playing. I just pray her motivation was not to prevent any further questions that I might ask regarding this. The best I can do at this point is keep my eyes/ears open and if there is any further suspicion, speak to child protective services. There is not much any of us can do about the yesterday's in life, but I'll be darned if I'll allow any child to be harmed in the light of today.
Thanks for bringing this up Womanwithquestions.
Sincerely,
s-n-s

_________________________
"As long as he continues to try, I will meet him in that determination and commitment."

cm 2007

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#68294 - 01/05/07 03:15 PM Re: What's normal?
Nobbynobs Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 06/26/05
Posts: 1286
Loc: Toronto
I was in a Toys R Us one time and a woman came in with two little boys. She was wearing enormous sunglasses but they were unable to hide the bruises around her eyes. Everything about the way this woman and her children were acting screamed that they were being abused. The boys wanted to go look at the trucks and that, but she had to steer them away from the "good" toys to the section where they had the stuff that was being sold at liquidation.

And I did nothing. All the people whispering behind her back to each other did nothing. The Toys R Us employees did nothing. She bought her two cheap little toys and left without saying a word. This, in a store that prides itself on making children happy. We all sat there like cowards and did nothing.

I still feel an overwhelming sense of shame about that day, so I know how it feels to suspect that a child you care about might be being abused. I just wanted to let you guys know how glad I am to hear that you are taking an active role in helping out the kids around you.

_________________________
When you go up to the bell, ring it! Or don't go up to the bell.

- Mel Brooks

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#68295 - 01/05/07 04:21 PM Re: What's normal?
sis Offline
Member

Registered: 10/05/06
Posts: 195
Loc: Arizona
WWQ,
Being a female survivor and having males in my family who are also survivors i believe everybody is suspect and nothing would surprise me. If you are getting a fealing that something isn't right, as in an older man sleeping with a child, especially when there is another bed available, then follow your gut feeling and if you believe that there may be something going on then it is your responsiblity to do something. Please do not turn your back on a situation that needs attention, especially when it involves inoccent children. Yes, one of the signs of sexual abuse is inapropriate knowledge of sex and acting out sexually. Also you might see a strange attachment between the abuser and the child. Pay attention!!!
I may be stretching here but also if you do have a situation on your hands and you have a child disclose anything to you then you make it your job to find that child a safe place to be away from the alleged abuser. Abusers threaten to hurt and often do hurt there victims so they will be afraid to talk. Children need to trust that somebody cares and will help them. I agree with nobby but i want to take it a step further an abuser dosn't have to be a male. A female can be an abuser too. so, as far as any one sleeping with a child, that situation needs to be investigated, period and appropriate boundaries set for the safety of the children. Sometimes god sends help for the children through other people if they would just open there eyes and not give up when the going gets tough and the going does get tough when you are faced with this type of situation. People would prefer to act as if nothing is happening and if they finally agree that yes, something is happening then it's not that bad. That attitude is crap. Child hood sexual abuse (CSA) is the worst form of child abuse with the worst life long after-effects than any other abuse. If you want to learn more then read some posts from some of the survivors here, it might give you an understanding of just how horific CSA actually is. Thank you for having the guts to ask questions and i hope this helps. light and luv, cathy


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#68296 - 01/05/07 04:24 PM Re: What's normal?
beccy Offline
Member

Registered: 05/28/06
Posts: 449
Loc: england
Wow, that's such a good question!


it's a difficult one to answer too.....there are certain men AND women in my own family who I would always trust to share a bed with my own children, really whatever their age. I know for example that I would always be able to trust my mum, dad, brother and sister. I know they would never ever even dream of doing anything wrong/inappropriate, or misshandle any possible awkward situation. Other than my own situation/feelings on this, I really feel I cannot say any general answer. Nowadays i find myself mostly suspicious of everyone and anyone, so i suppose knowing the truth with any given person, can be a difficult thing to achieve. it's so hard to get a child to talk too and so ensuring total safety is a stressful thing.....


I hope that you can find truth/solution to this for the child it is you're worried about.


peace
Beccy


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#68297 - 01/05/07 05:31 PM Re: What's normal?
ScottyTodd Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 02/12/03
Posts: 1561
Loc: Pennsylvania
WWQ - Sorry you've been placed in this situation; however, now that you are there the first suggestion I would share is to gather information such as: (1) going to http://www.stopitnow.com which has several answers to the questions you ask; (2) you may try researching through Google or other search engines the topic "male childhood sexual abuse"; (3)you may want to try http://www.SaferSociety.org for books, pamphlets, etc. There are several other options you can use to gather the information you need. Please keep posting and let us know how things are developing for you. BTW - what is the age of the child and the age of the person with whom they share the bed? Relationship (ie. brother, uncle, etc.)?

Howard

_________________________
If you think you can or you can't - you're right!.......anon
It's never too late to have a happy childhood!.....anon
You're very normal for the abnormal situation you've been through..............S. Todd

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#68298 - 01/05/07 08:41 PM Re: What's normal?
Hauser Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/12/05
Posts: 2962
Loc: United States
I would like to give a concrete example of what I think any of us would think IS appropriate so that it may offer a better perspective of this grey area:

I was visiting a good friend recently and his 6yo son passed out while sitting on my lap curled up with a blanket and watching TV with me and his Dad. That was cool cuz he's barely heavier than a cat you know? But there is NO WAY I would sleep in a bed with him, ESPECIALLY without even his Dad being around.


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#68299 - 01/05/07 09:32 PM Re: What's normal?
womanwithquestions Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/07
Posts: 3
Loc: Upstate New York
What a great help all of you are! I appreciate your thoughtful replies. It seems as if the rule is to have a high index of suspicion (never a problem for me) without jumping to conclusions. I will check out the recommended resources.

A little more background and a few more questions: The adult in this case is the grandfather, and the child--let's call him Nicholas--is my 8-year-old nephew. Nicholas's parents are divorced but get along well and live close together, near Nicholas's grandparents. Thus the child shuttles from one household to another, including his grandparents' house, depending on his parents' work schedules, holidays, etc. He is well cared for and loved at all three homes, and there are no drug or alcohol problems in the picture.

So why the worry? To start, it seems as if Nicholas is too old to be sleeping with his grandfather. During his visits, Grandma (sometimes? always?) sleeps in a spare bedroom, where I think Nicholas should be. I know that Grandpa and Nicholas are close--the grandparents have taken him on trips and really helped raise him--but this makes me uncomfortable. (And one responder said that an "unnatural attachment" could be a red flag.) After all, age 8 1/2 is awfully close to 9, and 9 definitely seems too old for a child to be sleeping with an adult when space is not a problem.

Grandpa was himself molested as a child. I don't know how long it went on or how extensive the abuse was--only that the abuser was a male teacher and that it happened more than 50 years ago. I read that it's a myth that abused children repeat the cycle, but that most abusers were themselves abused, so I'm not sure whether this should be considered a risk factor.

As for the knowledge of/interest in sexuality issue, Grandpa is having surgery to widen his urethra, and he apparently explained the procedure to Nicholas. Was that necessary? Grandma is amused that Nicholas is "fascinated" by the idea that they're going to "drill a hole in it," which suggests that Nicholas is continually talking/asking about it. Is this normal? Again, it just makes me uneasy.

Finally--and if you made it this far, thanks!--both parents are aware of everything I outlined above (except that I'm not sure Nicholas's mother knows that Grandpa was sexually abused), and they seem fine with the sleeping arrangements and so on. I'm in another city hours away, so I'm getting only a partial picture. Is it fair for me to draw ANY conclusions based on what little I see?

A few last questions: If Grandpa were a pedophile, would I have seen a pattern of this over the years--attempts to put himself in contact with children, etc.? And is it true that pedophiles don't or can't have healthy adult sexual relationships? He is in a decades-long, happy marriage, and in the past Grandma has mentioned their active sex life (don't worry--not in any detail and in an appropriate context).

I'll be visiting Nicholas, his father/stepmother/mother/stepfather, and the grandparents soon. If I can speak with Nicholas alone, what can I ask him to find out whether my concerns have any validity without giving the impression that I'm making accusations? For the record, I'm close to Grandpa and have no personal axe to grind here. I even feel guilty about my suspicions, but I don't want to ignore them.

Thanks again.


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#68300 - 01/05/07 09:45 PM Re: What's normal?
Hauser Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/12/05
Posts: 2962
Loc: United States
Somehow the subject of proper boundaries need to be discussed with the boy. I'm not going to try to articulate what you should do with this additional info, but my GUT feeling says that that boy needs to know that it's ok to say "No" if he's uncomfortable and that if someone does certain things (like touching private parts etc) that he needs to tell his parents. That and to not blindly obey someone just because they're an adult.

WWQ, In my time here I've come to realize that one of the worst problems about childhood sexual abuse is that MANY parents FAIL to teach their children about proper boundaries/touch and that if something DOES happen, TO TELL.

Has this boy been taught this in this regard, do you know?


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#68301 - 01/05/07 10:49 PM Re: What's normal?
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5779
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
To echo ScottyTodd's suggestions, you can call StopItNow! at 1 888 PREVENT. They will talk with you about the situation and what you can do about it. SIN! is in business to help people deal with sexual abuse before it might happen.

Ken


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#68302 - 01/05/07 11:18 PM Re: What's normal?
beccy Offline
Member

Registered: 05/28/06
Posts: 449
Loc: england
Hauser, I totally agree with you about what you said above.


the subject of age and sharing a bed......i think we do need to be aware of the fact that we actually live in a culture which seems to believe attachment(to a 'safe' parent figure, ie. main caretakers) to be unhealthy, but there is much current research into child developement, emotional understanding, which is saying it's important that we know attachment is normal, and healthy. Both physical and emotional attachment. Children desperately need closeness and there's actually no real reason why we should be worried about sleeping next to one another. Obviously I am talking here as a parent and would never worry about my own children wanting to sleep in our bed, to be honest with you, whatever their age....although, I wouldn't really expect they'd need that when they have their own partner/life/emotional independance! Of course, as time goes on, you wouldn't really be expecting they'd really want/need that, but if occasional, if they were sad, whatever, I'd still be there for them. Of course, I want my children to be independant and I believe they will be.


I think I've read somewhere that in some more indiginous cultures, children tend to decide for themselves to sleep seperately from their parents at around the age of 10-ish I think.....don't know if that's any help for this issue.


If your nephew is looked after a lot by your grandfather, he could have that kind of attachment with him. I don;t think there'd be anything unnatural, or wrong in that. I have looked after my much younger step brother, sometimes he used to stay and he needed to come in our bed(he was about 6), as he was very used to sleeping with his parents. I don't feel there's anything wrong with that. I wouldn't think it wrong if my daughter needed to sleep in my sister's/brother's bed if she stayed with them(she's 4&1/2). Also she has slept at my dad's before and my dad's girlfriend got in next to her cause she couldn't sleep(she was about 2&1/2)


Of course I trust all of these people implicitly, and I think that's definately the key here. You do sound nervous/unsure about your grandfather, so I definately think you're right to be addressing it. It's far far better to be looking into it if you feel concerned/suspicous, than to regret something later on....


It's right that we all have this level of awareness.


peace
Beccy


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#68303 - 01/06/07 12:10 AM Re: What's normal?
womanwithquestions Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/05/07
Posts: 3
Loc: Upstate New York
Again, it's such a relief to read these well-considered replies, since I had no idea where to turn until I found this site. I'll definitely call SIN for advice on how to talk to Nicholas. Because I live away, I actually don't know whether he's been taught about good/bad touching and boundaries. Don't they teach those things in school now?

What I DO know is that he's a timid and extremely docile child--a friend of mine would call him "rule bound." He's the kind of kid who will tell you that you can't bring your beach ball to the pool because toys are not allowed in the pool area. His father and grandfather are both rigid disciplinarians, so he has learned to be polite and in general to behave because (it seems to me) he's afraid not to. Let me clarify that they do not physically abuse him, but I personally don't believe in spanking children, and they think that's an appropriate punishment on occasion. In any case, Nicholas is not the kind of kid who would be likely to say "no" to any authority figure.

The point that physical and emotional attachment can be healthy is well taken. I just want to be positive that's all it is. It pains me to even entertain the idea that someone I love could do something so loathsome, but I see so many relatives (usually parents) of CSA survivors say in hindsight that they never dreamed so-and-so would hurt their child.

Does anyone have thoughts on my questions about whether I would have seen a pattern of approaching children before and whether pedophiles can have healthy adult relationships? In other words, is there a profile of the typical pedophile, or is there a great deal of variation? Thanks.


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#68304 - 01/06/07 03:56 AM Re: What's normal?
shadowkid Offline
WARNING from ModTeam, September 2013: user "Shadowkid" was exposed as a hoaxer. His entire online persona and stories of sexual abuse were fiction. We encourage you not to become emotionally concerned by anything you see in any of his posts. Thank you
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 2437
i cant say about the relationship part but its possible he has been concentrating on the granson ,maybe ,like raising his own victim? my perp would have waited as long as it took years if necessary so you might not see a patteren ,also most of them are very good at hiding what they do ,if your far away you might not notice a pattern .its scares the heck outa me to be honest ,people ask what to look for well i think you coverd a lot of those things in your post. the kids a perfect target ,parents divorced ,going back and forth probably thinks his parents split causae of something he did. maybe you could just like have the family together and ask ,dont you think its a little , weird for them to sleep together? has anybody asked nicholas if he wants to sleep with him ? i mean i have read the things you talked about in survivor posts here, .the best thing is your questioning ,thats real good. ask him if he wants to sleep there ,if nothing is happening you wont have done anything that can make your family mad at you . if he says no then its up to you from there. its gotta be better to be safe than sorry . i dont know your grandfather i dont wanna say hes a perp ,its just it sounds so scary adam

_________________________
its not hard to fall
when you float like a cannonball - damien rice

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#68305 - 01/06/07 07:01 PM Re: What's normal?
SAR Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/07/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: USA
Maybe the grandparents have separate bedrooms for their own, other reasons, and the boy wanting to stay in the room w/ an adult is a convenient excuse for them not to have to explain that to kids or grandkids. Do Grandma and Grandpa sleep together on other nights? (FWIW, while I'd be reluctant to say that using a kid as a cover-up is sexual abuse, I think it's inappropriate and puts the kid in an emotionally difficult position. I think a lot of caretakers emphasize or encourage certain "needs" in children for reasons of their own, like avoiding intimacy with another adult, and it seems very wrong to me).

Was the divorce recent or have there been other major changes in the boy's life lately? 8 year old kids are not too young to regress a little and want to be treated like they were smaller, if recent events are causing them to feel like growing up is not so great.

Like Beccy I think there are situations where the shared bed would not always indicate abuse. The biggest red flag I see in the post is the discipline.


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#68306 - 01/07/07 01:06 AM Re: What's normal?
Lloydy Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor
Registered: 04/17/02
Posts: 7071
Loc: England Shropshire
Quote:
The adult in this case is the grandfather, and the child--let's call him Nicholas--is my 8-year-old nephew.
Way too much age difference in my opinion, and the whole thing you mentioned about the closeness of the relationship makes it 'suspect' to me as well.

I'm 53 and grew up in a very large family, I spent many happy days with uncles and aunts when I was a kid. When my cousins and I were young, under 10 or 11, it was nothing unusual to share a bed with one of my my male cousins who was a similar age, sometimes we would masturbate each other as well.

Why do I mention this? well, "was it abuse?"
I don't see it that way, it was mutual curiosity and 100% different to my experiences at t boarding school.
A lot of kids will experiment out of curiosity, and it does no harm because POWER doesn't play any part in what went on, sexual abuse has it's roots in the abuse of power.

Which is where the age gap makes a difference.
"If" something is going on, then it is abuse.
Which is something that I think you both appreciate and fear. There is no way it could be dressed up to be anything else.

Quote:
Grandpa was himself molested as a child. I don't know how long it went on or how extensive the abuse was--only that the abuser was a male teacher and that it happened more than 50 years ago. I read that it's a myth that abused children repeat the cycle, but that most abusers were themselves abused, so I'm not sure whether this should be considered a risk factor.
Yes it should, and if that view annoys some people then so be it.
The important part of this is that "most abusers were themselves abused"

However hard it is to challenge or accuse a family member I think it needs to be done, at best it's inappropriate behaviour, at worst it's sexual abuse.
I hope it's the former, I hope that boy doesn't need MS in years to come.

Dave

_________________________
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
Henry David Thoreau

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