Monday, May 05, 2008

Cruel Dilemma

Posted by Anonymous

Last summer my 8 year old son was molested by his 12 year old adopted cousin. Thankfully we found out about it right away and we were able to have good discussions with our son... We have not allowed ANY contact from the boy who molested our son. However, now we are getting pressure from the both the parents of the molester, and the grandparents to "get over it", "move on" and let the boys get together again... for the sake of "family harmony".

I just don't know how that would effect my son.

Would seeing the boy who molested him hurt him more emotionally? (We would NEVER let him play alone with him)

Or would it be good?

If we did start seeing them again, I do worry about safety. The molesters parents are very laid back... we have FOUR sons to try to keep safe.

For me, as a mother, the easy answer is never to see this boy who caused so much pain again.

But is that what's best?

Thanks for listening, any advice is more than welcome.

49 comments:

Anonymous said...

Absolutely NOT! I would not let my sons around him again. Plain and simple. By playing it down those family members are victimizing your son AGAIN. Like it was no big deal and you should forget about it. HA! That's really quite offensive. As someone who was molested 32 years ago the answer is a plain and simple. NO.

Beth said...

Gotta agree. I think that the fact that you are asking yourself (these very smart!) questions is an indicator of no, no and no. Please, please don't allow yourself to feel pressured by any family member (though I know that's really tougher than it sounds) to put your son and yourselves in situations that make you uncomfortable. Is it possible to see other family members w/o the molester present? Is anyone in the extended family doing anything to seek counseling for the molester? Not AT ALL to say that that's your obligation -- but if his parents aren't trying to help him, I don't see why or how he won't molest again, sadly.

Good on you for being there for your son. Sounds like you've handled the situation with lots of openness and love.

Anonymous said...

Ask yourself how you would feel if you DID allow visits and it happened again. The emotional consequences of that would be far more traumatic than the anger of any family members who want to move past it. And shame on them for telling you to "get over it" in the name of family harmony. Are they telling the molester's parents there needs to be consequences for the sake of family harmony?

If it were me, it would be a resounding NO VISITS. Anyone who can't understand why aren't worth the time, family or not. Maybe in time, but it's been less than a year. Visits should be allowed ONLY by your son, when he is old enough to make the decision himself.

Anonymous said...

Is your son in therapy (recommended) and if so, what does the therapist say? Consulting trained professionals in a case like this seems like a wise idea.

katesaid said...

Yeah, me, I'd never want my child in that child's presence again. I would want to communicate to my child, "Your safety and comfort is more important than any amount of family pressure, ever."

But if my child really wanted to attend some family event where this other child was likely to be, I might consider it. After talking extensively to every one of my kids and really making sure that everyone is both willing and interested in attending.

I would never allow them to be together **unsupervised**. I might allow a family gathering in which I carefully coached my children in staying near me or other grown-up family members and staying only the bare minimum time necessary to be polite.

Tough, though. Because I can think of a lot more, and more important, reasons NOT to do it than to do it. Family harmony is not as important as my child's mental health. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Here's another "No No Never." And frankly, I would say something to the family members pressuring you. I would tell them that I can't believe they don't understand the decision. And I would tell them to never try to press me or my family on it again. I'd have a good talk with each of the kids about what happened. Make sure they know to never be alone with this other boy. IF there was a big family even that all of your kids want to go to, I'd consider it only if everyone was totally agreed that they want to go AND to stick together around the adults. No one wandering off alone or with this cousin.

Anonymous said...

I reiterate the NO, NO, NO!
You also need to ask yourself where the 12 year old got his ideas. It could be from another family member. Making nice for family is ridiculous. Your son will always feel diminished in this boy's presence. Even if he says it's fine, there is still a part of him who will feel shamed, even though his head knows it isn't his fault.

Anonymous said...

No WAY - the emotional impact it may have on your son and any feeling of safety could be damaged. To be made to face his molestor and told to get over it could be shattering. He could feel victimized all over again and at the force of his parents that KNOW what happened.

Lala said...

7 out of 8 say no and I have to make that 8 out of 9. Please put your son's need to be protected above your other family demands. My son was molested by his best friend's father and I'll never forgive myself.

Lara said...

as someone who was molested as a child, i would never have wanted to see my attacker again. and having my parents around, would have just made it even more uncomfortable for me. i think it's much better not to see him again, family harmony or not.

Shania said...

I beg you, no. Please don't. You are all your son has and he needs you to protect him. He may say he wants to go, all the while hoping you'll veto. I let my son down in this way and there are so many things I wish I had done differently. I wish I had been smart enough to ask opinions, like you.

Shania said...

and furthermore, (sorry, forgot to ask this before) don't the cousins parents think maybe he should get some help? If not, perhaps child protective services can get it for him so hopefully this doesn't continue to happen.

The City Gal said...

My question is:

Did the molester get help? Is he in therapy? Is he gonna get better?

I understand that at some point for the sake family harmony you need to get together with them, but not until the boy is getting some help!

Also, once your kids get a bit older and understand that they have the right to defend themselves, you shouldn't let them be alone/unsupervised with that older kid.

Anonymous said...

No. Even if the molester is in therapy and got help, whatever. No.

I was "touched innappropriately" once as a kid. He was the son of my parents' friends and I never told anyone for years and years. I HATED it when he would come over with his parents. It was humiliating for me, although I pretended it was fine.

-Jennifer

He never tried it again, but it was still awful to see him again. Now I wish I'd told my parents. They would never, ever have made me be around him again if they had known it made me that uncomfortable. Don't do that to your son.

Dawn said...

Oh god, please please do not let your son near this boy. A resounding NO from me. I agree with the above posters that the molester should be in therapy. I often wonder when kids like that molest, if somehow they are being molested or have been as well.

Anonymous said...

Another question you might want to consider is how your family (not the molester) will treat your son. If they are telling you to get over it, what are they going to tell him in the spirit of family harmony? You can't be with him all the time and shield from what some well meaning family members may say to him about it. Downplaying it on anyone's part could be just as traumatic to him. He knows you have his back, but he may wonder why the rest of the family didn't and that may have more consequences for him.

Anonymous said...

Has your son seen a therapist to minimize the effects this will have had on him? I agree that it is a good idea to do that regardless of whether he says he's fine. He can always stop going, but you can never go back in time and send him if you don't now.

Ditto the family of the 12 year old. I realize they may not see it as a big deal, but that may be part of the problem. It seems likely that this 12 year old boy has been exposed to abuse from *someone*. I would think carefully about reporting this to protective services, which may be the only way to help this family.

Anonymous said...

Oops, sorry, just noticed that the older boy is adopted. That makes it less likely that it's someone in the family, who'll have repeated contact with him or your son, who abused him. Still, seems like it's worth considering having professionals be involved to protect all the children's safety.

Mother with a Dilemma said...

Thank You so much for your advice. You have confirmed to me that we are doing the right thing by forbidding contact. For the first time since this happened, I feel better. I let my son down when it happened... the guilt is unbearable at times.

we did report this to cps... they just didn't do anything about it. And when we tried to explain to the grandparents why we can't go to family gatherings if the abuser is present, they accused us of being "exclusive". Honestly, from where I sit, they could care less about my children.

Anonymous said...

You are a good mother. To hell with the rest of them. Follow your instincts - get your son help - get help yourself - and know you've done it right.

Be proud of yourself.

Anonymous said...

NO NO NO NO NO. (I may have a strong opinion on this, yes?) I'd hope your son is in therapy and I cannot stress enough how important it is that you stand by him and allow no contact whatsoever. Not to judge your family, but WHAT THE HELL is wrong with them that they would tell you and your 8 year old to "get over" being sexually abused? That is not something you recover from in years, much less one year...good for you that your family is sticking by your son.

Is the 12 year old in therapy? I'd say he might (just might) need it.

Whoa. Sorry. One of my friends...anyway. Personal, albeit distant, history with this.

Anonymous said...

Oh! When I said that "good for your that your family is sticking by your son" it wasn't sarcastic, I meant your son's immediate family, i.e. you. Rereading that it sounded nasty.

Smiling Mom said...

You must listen to that inner voice of yours that is screaming. Don't try to make 'family harmony'. Your job is to protect your baby.

Remember to always be respectful, but firm.

I'm so sorry for both of your losses. What a truly horrible and unbearable situation.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs help. Your son, the cousin, you, the other set of parents.
Mostly for your son. I was also molested as a child. I was age 5 and the boy was in his early teens your son may need counsellings for some time and then again later these things can sometime resurface and be hard to deal with again later in life. Such as when he begins to have a relationship of his own and when he has his own children.
I wish you all the best.
Always listen to your own instincts as a parent if you are not comfortable listen to your heart.

Nonparentlady said...

I am not even a parent and I also think your son should be kept away from the boy who did this without any question.

The grandparents are from a time when many things (including molestation) got swept under the rug - it's probably the easiest way they know how to deal with difficult things - pretend they didn't happen.

Fuck that.

PeanutButtersMum said...

i wouldn't want my kid within a mile of that kid EVER again. shame on your family for not understanding.

BW said...

You are doing the right thing in looking out for your son's welfare and best interest. Please do not allow others to guilt-trip or pressure you into doing something that does not feel okay for you or your son. In terms of being told to "get over it" and "move on" - are they f-ing kidding?? While there may have been abuse or trauma in the cousin's past and that is a horrible thing, your responsibility and loyalty is to your child. And you know what? What happened is not your fault. While that may not assuage your guilt, you need to hear that. Bad things happen to all of us and to those we love and that sucks, but we are amazingly resilient and THAT is a beautiful thing.

Amanda said...

Ditto Lara. All I wanted was for someone else to make the call, to keep me safe. Give him that, please!

canape said...

What I wouldn't have given if my parents had broken off all contact with the man who abused me.

Of course, I hadn't told them, so they didn't know, but still. All I ever wanted was to feel protected from him.

Please don't worry about your extended family. This is the kind of situation where you can make new family. Please help your son feel safe and keep him away from the abuser.

dana wyzard said...

After I told my mother about being molested, she said "Keep it quiet. I'll make sure it never happens again." Which totally dismissed my FEELINGS of having been WRONGED. Thereafter, I never felt like standing up for myself or like I was WORTHY of protection.

Let you son know that he is WORTHY of making a stand against family or foe.

Your family is dismissing your son's traumatic experience and trivializing his emotions. THEIR PROBLEM. DON'T MAKE IT YOUR SON'S PROBLEM.

Lisa b said...

Are you kidding me?
If the grandparents don't care that their grandson has been molested I just cannot imagine wanting any part of"family harmony"

Melanie said...

I agree with all the previous posters about staying away. We must have boundaries in our relationships. Your family is not respecting your boundary as a parent nor their grandson's boundary...his right to NOT have his body violated!!!

You alone are responsible for your child. I have an ex-stepmom (yes, you read that correctly...long story) who has been married 8 times. When my children were smaller she wanted them to spend the night with her. She was newly married to a man she'd only known for a few months. I told her no and then I told her why when she asked. She was angry that "I would think she'd let anything happen to them." I told her I didn't feel comfortable with that man. And, if I went against my judgment to appease her, keep her feelings from being hurt, and he did hurt them it would be too late; the damage would be done. That was a chance I was not willing to take. She was quite ugly after that and accused me of not being a good Christian. I stood my ground, though never being unkind or mean in return.

I am a survivor of child abuse by several people over several years. It was never family; just family friends. I still have issues that I deal with (mostly trying to control everything around me, a little OCD) but I am healing with the Lord's help.

Your family obviously does not have his best interest's at heart and therefore cannot be trusted to protect him because they are trivializing it. They need a reality check with Dr. Phil! ;)

Hold your ground and protect your precious boy! And definitely get him into counseling. He needs it!

Blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

absolutely not- and I strongly strongly urge you to try reporting the incident to the police and Child Protective Services, his school, whatever you can do to get that boy immediate help.

Most boys who abuse were abused, and will continue to do so until someone stops them. Your son won't be the last child he abuses, and probably wasn't the first. Be strong and have the courage to end the cycle now.

Susie said...

I am a child counselor and have to say, it sounds like your instincts are telling you "No - don't do it." Follow those instincts. Family harmony is not your priority - your child is - and good for you. Your family is not doing ANYONE any favors in pushing for a get-together nor are they doing the other child any favors if they are not getting him help. The fact that he is so young and doing this is a good indicator that he will do this again. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

No Way should you let your son see this boy again. Even supervised things can happen--Little inappropriate touches.

Those are my 2 cents. I was molested by 2 family members and forced to keep seeing them--now that I am an adult, I limit my contact with my mom b/c she is the one that forced it. I don't believe she took into account my feelings ever and only worried about what everyone else would say if we didn't keep family accord.

Anonymous said...

Family harmony is impossible at this point. Would you ever feel good around these people - the grandparents, the cousins, their parents - ever again simply by ignoring what happened? Of course not, so it is not really an option. What the grandparents are really asking you to do is to reject your own feelings, sacrifice your family's sense of comfort and safety in order to make them feel comfortable. It is completely selfish. They might - along with the cousin's parents - feel that the cousin was awkwardly exploring his own sexuality, misguidedly but innocently, as he navigates the onset of puberty. This is a common excuse for young molesters. Maybe that is true, maybe it is not - either way, that is not your issue to figure out, let his parents figure out what is up with that boy. Just protect your son. The comments support how important it is to your son to feel that his safety and comfort is your only concern. If he can't trust his parents to protect him, imagine the difficult time he'll have trusting anyone, ever.

Anonymous said...

No, no, never, never. Follow your gut, you KNOW what is best.

MamaMichelsBabies said...

An absolute no. And the family members putting "family harmony" before your sons emotional well being? I'd limit contact there as well... that's a poison no family needs that no little boy needs.

Good luck... it's never easy when dealing with family.

Anonymous said...

I think that the pressure that others in the family are putting on you is indicative of the sickness/denial that happens around abuse within families. It is how it survives and gets passed on from generation to generation. I agree with other commenters re: counseling for your son.

There will be no 'family harmony' for your boy if/when/until he's old enough to decide for himself if he wants to confront/deal with his abuser.

Trust your mama lion instincts.

the new girl said...

OMG! I just re-read the comments and saw your comment re: letting your son down and the guilt feelings.

You, too, should opt to talk to a professional. You did NOT let your son down. It is incredibly normal to feel like you have, though, as is the guilt. Those feelings are damaging, though, and some counseling can help you all to put it into perspective.

kittenpie said...

I can't tell you how sorry I am to hear that you even have to worry about this.

I would suggest talking with the parents frankly about your concerns and laying ground rules in the event that they should ever get together again, withotu making any promises that that will happen.

Once that is established, I would ask your son, giving assurances of what the situation would entail IF he decides he wants to make that move, in terms of your being present at all times. Once he knows you will do everything possible to make it safe, leave it up to him, and let him know you are open for talking before and after if he wants to.

Good luck with this and his future healing.

Anonymous said...

NO NO NO NO. Too bad your family has other feelings. Just too bad. Do NOT betray your child (which is EXACTLY what it will be...betrayal) by making your child ever be in the same vicinity of this bad child. It is not fair to your child and your job is to protect your child at all cost and ensure that your child always knows forever and forever that you stood behind him and for him and never caved in to family pressures. That, my dear, is what your precious child will remember and integrate the rest of his life.

Anonymous said...

NO. I was molested by a family member and then had to continue to spend time with him. It was terrible and made me feel like my parents didn't care enough to protect me.

Anonymous said...

When I was 7, I was molested by by 13 year old adopted cousin. It was almost the same situation. I never told anyone. Every Christmas and every Easter, I have to see him and I die a little every time I do. I can't even verbalize how much I resent him and how sick it makes me feel to know I have no words to describe how violated I feel over what he did to me. You have done the right thing protecting your son. If he's like me, the gravity of what happened won't click with him until he's a bit older, but when it does, he will be glad of your decision.

Tracey said...

Another NO from me. I can only imagine because they're both boys that the family is pushing the issue. Or that he's adopted, maybe? I am assuming that the abuser has had a difficult past? Perhaps even been molested himself?

But let's flip the tables and think about suggesting to a young girl who was raped, that she should sit around the family table and make nice with her rapist. Just try and picture that and see what your response would be to that scenario.

I see no difference for your son. No matter how much they may apologize (and I sure as hell hope everyone has) it won't change what happened. Your son shouldn't be forced into a situation where he feels even remotely in danger.

Your poor family. I am so sorry that this has happened. May your son find peace and know how much he is loved...

Anonymous said...

NO! Don't let your family members who are telling you to "get over it" sway you from your gut instinct. It is your job, as their mother, to protect them. We can't suffocate them, but to knowingly put them in a situation where they will understandably be nervous, afraid, angry? NO.

What if he were an adult - would you make him see this person? Would you like being forced to have dinner once a week with someone who raped you, for example?

Your family will have to understand that you would not choose to be in that situation, so you will not put your son in that situation, unless and until he says he wants to be, or is okay with it.

Anonymous said...

I also have to say, what the heck is with all the advice to get everyone into the hands of a shrink?!?! Has the whole world gone insane, that we think we can no longer handle our own problems with our own wisdom, with our religious faith, with health and good nutrition, and with the help of supportive friends of family? We have to put our decision-making and the responsibility for our getting better into the hands of a pseudo "professional"?!

A shrink is going to soon have everyone on drugs. They numb - they do not help, or change things, or bring us spiritual calm, or make anything better. They just take you further away from what is wrong. They kill your ability to feel symptoms of what is wrong. They do not heal.

Psychiatry has harmed more people than being crazy has. Do some research, find some alternatives to taking care of yourself - I beg the poster, and all of you who are so quick to recommend therapy.

Anonymous said...

There is no getting over it and how awful that that your family expects you to. Your son needs you to protect him. I was touched inappropriately by my grandfather and told my mother. I was still expected to be in his company at all family gatherings and my mother even let him live in a trailor in our back yard for a short time. I have never forgiven her. I wish my mother had stood up to her family and choose me over family harmony.

Ve said...

This post is from some time ago, so I wonder if posting a reply at this point really makes sense . . . but I'm gonna say this.

First - you and your family (your husband and boys) need to be in family counseling. Your son likely needs a counselor of his own as do you to explore the feelings of guilt.

Second . . . under no circumstance should you put your son in the position to face this boy again. Family harmony my a$$. If when he is older, he wants to confront his attacker . . . allow, facilitate and support him in that. But DO NOT for the sake of any family "harmony" force that on him now. You have developed a relationship with him that made him comfortable enough and confident enough in you to know you would protect him when he told you . . . but doing this to him you will destroy that trust.

Further, some have said that you should ask him how he feels about seeing the boy again and if he woudl be "okay" with it. Well no, he will not be okay . . . he will be mortified! But he will very likely go along with it and agree, because he will think it is what you want. By even suggesting to him that it is an option . . . he'll think it's what you want.

Think about . . . under no uncertain terms do you allow him to cross an interstate highway - why allow him to be hit by this mack truck? The danger level is the same.

AND . . . at this point, he can NOT be allowed to visit unsupervised with his grandparents any more. They will VERY likely try to force the family harmony that is obviously more important to them than that of your sons well being.

I am so sorry for you and for your son that you are being forced to deal with this. But I am so happy to hear that you are asking thoughtful questions and making good choices for your son . . .

Also as someone else said, you should contact child protective services in that area, make another effort at contacting the police in that area, and contact the cousin's school counselor and principal. It is certainly not your responsibility to try to help this kid, but if you can prevent this from happening to another innocent child . . . at least something good will have come from what happened to your son.