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  1. #1
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    Jun. 18, 2007
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    Default Telling a Family Member about Past Abuse

    Just curious about past experience and reactions. Part of me is kind of let down from a relative's recent reaction, and another part of me says that there really isn't a script on this and he was probably just overwhelmed.

    Anyway, I was sexually assaulted years ago by my stepfather. Mom believed me immediately when I told her the next morning, responded appropriately (getting the ##% out of that relationship and ensuring my safety, then going from there), helping me in dealing with it, including offering professional help, and I have dealt with this. It's not something I dwell on or dream about. It's in the past, and while it was unpleasant, I've moved on.

    My biological dad (husband #1 for Mom) and I have never been that close, due to several things too long to get into. We have never been on the same wavelength, although he thinks we are. Anyway, was recently having a visit from Dad. I am trying to work on this relationship, and I would like to be closer to him. He commented at one point in natural flow of the conversation we were having just then that his current wife's first husband was such an abusive jerk (true) and was, he thought, even worse than Mom's second husband, who was purely amoral. It occurred to me then that I'd never told him the worst thing Mom's second husband ever did. I literally hadn't even thought of him not knowing this for quite a while; like I said, I've moved on. But I am trying to share more and talk more with him in general. I said while stepmom's first husband still probably took the prize (true), Dad didn't know the worst thing former stepfather had done. I then said that he had sexually assaulted me.

    Dad's first reaction was: "Are you kidding?"

    Yeah, joke of the century. Isn't that hilarious? Sigh.

    His second reaction after being assured that I was serious was: "I'm glad you didn't tell me because I would have killed him." Followed several expressions of the torment and torture he considered appropriate. In short, he was purely "revenge/punishment" fixated on him, rather than "what it cost me emotionally and me needing to deal with that" fixated, unlike Mom, who was precisely the reverse. She never for a second indicated disbelief in me, even when blindsided by my first statement, and was immediately concerned most for my welfare, with him paying dues falling in line behind my safety and emotional health.

    His third reaction and several subsequent minutes was to criticize Mom for "concealing" this and keeping him out of the loop. This contradicts what he said in #2 above, that he was glad he didn't know.

    He then said that "not everything needs to be told." So I obligingly dropped the subject.

    In none of this brief sequence did he express concern for me emotionally or my mental well-being afterward. His responses ran doubting me, anger at ex-stepfather, anger at Mom, and this doesn't need to be talked about.

    Like I said, I've dealt with the assault. Not an issue for me anymore. But I can't help feeling like this isn't quite the reaction I expected from my own father. There are other things he doesn't know, too, much more minor but involving some things my brothers did to me much younger at his house while we were visiting him. I am now less than zero inclined to ever share that with him. Again, this is my direct, immediate family, my own parent. He didn't seem to want to know more after his first reactions of doubt and then anger. This was several weeks ago. He hasn't brought it up again. It seems he really doesn't want to know.

    Those of you who have revealed similar horrors after the fact to a family member who didn't know, how did they react?



  2. #2
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    Hmm, you drop a bombshell on the man and you are surprised he does not make much sense?

    Actually, he made - for a man - a lot of sense.
    That's their way of dealing with these things. Not to mention they can't fathom the emotional damage, and frankly, nobody having experienced can fully grasp it.



  3. #3
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    Jun. 24, 2005
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    I think your father went through several of the first stages of accepting what happened (denial, anger, etc). I know several people who have documented evidence of assault by relatives (in one case a grandparent) and other relatives still try and put the two people in the same family situations (reunions, weddings, etc), and can't understand why the victim can't "just get over it"-some people are incredibly dense I guess. Some people have a hard time dealing with something like this, and maybe your father feels he failed you because he should have been able to do something to help if he had known. He might never be able to accept and cope in the manner you want him to, but that doesn't diminish the fact that you have survived what happened and moved on with your life.
    You can't fix stupid-Ron White



  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by dressagetraks View Post
    Just curious about past experience and reactions. Part of me is kind of let down from a relative's recent reaction, and another part of me says that there really isn't a script on this and he was probably just overwhelmed.

    Anyway, I was sexually assaulted years ago by my stepfather. Mom believed me immediately when I told her the next morning, responded appropriately (getting the ##% out of that relationship and ensuring my safety, then going from there), helping me in dealing with it, including offering professional help, and I have dealt with this. It's not something I dwell on or dream about. It's in the past, and while it was unpleasant, I've moved on.

    My biological dad (husband #1 for Mom) and I have never been that close, due to several things too long to get into. We have never been on the same wavelength, although he thinks we are. Anyway, was recently having a visit from Dad. I am trying to work on this relationship, and I would like to be closer to him. He commented at one point in natural flow of the conversation we were having just then that his current wife's first husband was such an abusive jerk (true) and was, he thought, even worse than Mom's second husband, who was purely amoral. It occurred to me then that I'd never told him the worst thing Mom's second husband ever did. I literally hadn't even thought of him not knowing this for quite a while; like I said, I've moved on. But I am trying to share more and talk more with him in general. I said while stepmom's first husband still probably took the prize (true), Dad didn't know the worst thing former stepfather had done. I then said that he had sexually assaulted me.

    Dad's first reaction was: "Are you kidding?"

    Yeah, joke of the century. Isn't that hilarious? Sigh.

    His second reaction after being assured that I was serious was: "I'm glad you didn't tell me because I would have killed him." Followed several expressions of the torment and torture he considered appropriate. In short, he was purely "revenge/punishment" fixated on him, rather than "what it cost me emotionally and me needing to deal with that" fixated, unlike Mom, who was precisely the reverse. She never for a second indicated disbelief in me, even when blindsided by my first statement, and was immediately concerned most for my welfare, with him paying dues falling in line behind my safety and emotional health.

    His third reaction and several subsequent minutes was to criticize Mom for "concealing" this and keeping him out of the loop. This contradicts what he said in #2 above, that he was glad he didn't know.

    He then said that "not everything needs to be told." So I obligingly dropped the subject.

    In none of this brief sequence did he express concern for me emotionally or my mental well-being afterward. His responses ran doubting me, anger at ex-stepfather, anger at Mom, and this doesn't need to be talked about.

    Like I said, I've dealt with the assault. Not an issue for me anymore. But I can't help feeling like this isn't quite the reaction I expected from my own father. There are other things he doesn't know, too, much more minor but involving some things my brothers did to me much younger at his house while we were visiting him. I am now less than zero inclined to ever share that with him. Again, this is my direct, immediate family, my own parent. He didn't seem to want to know more after his first reactions of doubt and then anger. This was several weeks ago. He hasn't brought it up again. It seems he really doesn't want to know.

    Those of you who have revealed similar horrors after the fact to a family member who didn't know, how did they react?
    its more than liekly in his responses to you when 1st told he didnt know how to express himself to the shock of it over to you

    he more than liekly wont mention as he doesnt know how to breech the subject with you, so perhaps is a little embrassed , your starting a new relationship with your dad and have told an imtermate thing, he gone of towards your n one of the responses of she should have told him as in kept him in the dark bt that wasnt her intention , her intention was to keep you safe and that she never told him as there was not trust ther to tell him, if ther was trust and understanding of a marriage life then ti would accept the ups as much as the downs

    and dunno why he left like i said you dont tell something to someone something liek that unless you trust them, you did as you felt it as need to know basis and it helped you to confront and to realsie that you have moved pas an awful expreicence but as tthere also a but i know your mum did what she di was right thing to do, but theres a tiny bit of doubt which shows in this post that i can see its not about your dad so much but more about your mum
    dont feel guilty and dont let your mum carry that guilt to,

    look forward to having an honest relationship with your dad he knows now and he will be there for you as a dad when you need him most no words have to be spoken



  5. #5
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    Jun. 18, 2007
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    Thanks for the input, folks.

    About Mom, there is no issue or guilt whatsoever there. She was my best friend throughout childhood and adulthood. We actually discussed with each other how legally, etc., to handle this, and she was very concerned with what I was feeling and how I felt about proceeding in all steps that we ultimately took, and we did take steps. She was a past victim herself, and we discussed all aspects of it extensively, which helped me with things. She's in a nursing home now and gone mentally, but I have no questions at all about how she dealt with it.

    ETA: I think Dad has always resented that I was so close to Mom. It actually is not uncommon for him to question her actions in anything. That didn't surprise me at all. That he never moved on to ask if I was doing okay and didn't even think it should have been brought up did surprise me.



  6. #6
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    Aug. 19, 2007
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    If it makes you feel any better, "Are you kidding?" is a very common response to shocking, horrible news. It doesn't necessarily mean his first reaction was to doubt your story, it's often just an automatic, standard first response when someone hears somthing very upsetting - this is according to a psychiatrist friend of mine, and I strongly believe it to be true. In fact, I know I have said it myself when faced with terrible news that I knew was no joke.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alagirl View Post
    Hmm, you drop a bombshell on the man and you are surprised he does not make much sense?

    Actually, he made - for a man - a lot of sense.
    That's their way of dealing with these things. Not to mention they can't fathom the emotional damage, and frankly, nobody having experienced can fully grasp it.
    I agree with all of this.

    People all react differently to shocking news. I kind of doubt he actually thought you were KIDDING... it is likely one of those "omg" responses. I know if someone tells me something shocking, it's not that I don't believe them - not at all - I am just attempting to comprehend it, so I often say something like "wow, really?" or "seriously?" or something along those lines. I don't think it is outside the realm of possibility that he didn't really mean it.

    Also, as Alagirl mentioned, that's how men react to stuff like that - for the most part, anyway. I would probably react the same sort of way (and I'm a female!) if a friend told me that about her stepfather. Add in the fact that he's your FATHER, which makes for a MUCH more protective stance, and realize that this is his way of expressing how much he cares about you. You don't threaten to kill someone because you dislike the person that they did the terrible thing to.

    I'm glad your mother was there for you, and although it may be a little bewildering to you, I do think your father is being "there" for you as well. I am not surprised he is upset that she didn't tell him about it - as your father he most likely feels as though he has a right to know.

    I'm so sorry it all happened to you. I can't imagine.



  8. #8
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    arh bless her, they often say that its cycle you have to break that cycle in your own life now,

    funny thing is when ones been abused mine was pysical plus a bit of mental
    then you understand a whole lot more than people give you credit for, when i had my kids i could never treat them the same as i had been, but my sister as in older sister did to a oint was very victorian in her ways, my brother hasnt any and my little sister lets hers get away with all sorts

    but then she never had the same up bringing as me and my older sister and brother did, she was treated like a little fairy compare to us as she arrrived 11yrs later

    but dont resent her for it , times changed and they had mallowed as they got older

    i dont knwo whow as worst out my mum or dad or even my brother and sister as they were all bad at some points in my life

    but i vowed i would never be like them,which i am not, and i think you have to vow to yourself that was then this is now and that your normal

    lke isaid you felt you needed to tell your dad, on a need to know thing, becuase it come up during a conversation, and you blurted it out, he i dont think knows how to handle that, because if he knew your mum had the same sort of thing then you aswell, it might be what broke them up as it played on his mind
    as some people think an old fasioned that its behind closed doors bit liek normal sex back then was hidden as people thought it dirty to tlak about but now its everywhere as natural same to with any kind of abuse no one spoke about it, was just the done thing then, but nowadays no its not ok

    and more media and and health issues and new laws out to protect people more in those kind of situatiions whereby in his time it wasnt there so much
    as in protection, like child line wherby you can ring for help or go to doc now or a teacher etc yonks ago coudlnt do that was just accepted
    so hes very vicotrian in his mindset as in his ways as he knows nothing else
    he doesnt even know you that well as wasnt about alot in your past
    and becuase of that cant talk to you, as a daughter but can as a person

    you know you have a great gift and i praze you for being open and honest
    and you could extend that gift to helping others not nessacrily on a chat line listening to people that have suffreed the same thing as you
    but in general - with everything you do with work horses whatever
    like me you have seen both sides so you should be a good communicator
    and be able to lsiten to people needs wants and aims so can talk on all levels thats a skill not everyone has that but you can put yours to good usage



  9. #9
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    I am so sorry this happened to you. There is a special place in hell for those people.

    Well the way my mother reacted when I told her years later that her son, my half brother, abused me for years, was telling me it was my fault I was a horrible person who better not ever tell anyone else what her son did to me. But then again this is also the same woman who would encourage me to kill myself and hand me a knife to do it at one point.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Couture TB View Post
    I am so sorry this happened to you. There is a special place in hell for those people.

    Well the way my mother reacted when I told her years later that her son, my half brother, abused me for years, was telling me it was my fault I was a horrible person who better not ever tell anyone else what her son did to me. But then again this is also the same woman who would encourage me to kill myself and hand me a knife to do it at one point.
    your worth more

    knnowing slef worht is great healer



  11. #11
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    OP... I know its not what you needed to hear. But he's your daddy and he wants to kill him. Thats how men work. Actually maybe I am a man because I want to kill him too and i don't even know any of you. Anyway, try to see it as the best he can offer you given who he is. Tough I know. Hugs.
    "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
    ---
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.



  12. #12
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    As with any great discolsure, you have to remember that one side (you) has had lots of time to think/digest/deal with this issue while the other side (your Father), hasn't had that time.

    Please don't judge him harshly. He sounds like a man who was shocked but trying his best to say what he thought he ought to say, under great duress.

    I'd also like to point out that when it is said that "Some things don't need to be told..." he may be right. This may have been his way of telling you he didn't want to know any details. And that is OK, as well. Knowing that the abuse occurred can be terrible, knowing too much detail can make it even worse for someone who may in some way, blame himself.

    NJR



  13. #13
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    Upon receiving news of a friend's suicide, the first things I said were "what?" followed by "are you kidding?" I don't feel I can offer insight or an opinion on your father's reaction as a whole, but as a first response-- sometime's it's all a person has.

    As an aside-- I was sexually assaulted just 4 months ago (on my front steps, in broad daylight) and people like you, who have moved on and recovered are a huge inspiration to me. Thanks for sharing your story.



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