To consider pressing charges (warning - uncomfortable reading)(48 Posts)
NC for this post.
Sorry in advance this is so long there's a lot of background to it.
When I was little my stepdad, on very few occasions, touched me and one time tried to get me to perform oral sex on him - I was about 6 (I didn't). I can probably count on the fingers of one hand how many times this happened over the years. Until I was 16 and my brothers moved out so was just me, him and mum.
From then on, until I moved out age 19 (for the record I'd have done it sooner but was in FT education so couldn't afford to) he basically sexually harassed me. He "tried it on" in a physical sense a few times but I ran out the house when he did this.
A few examples of things he'd do (not a pleasant read I must warn you) were -
- He'd stand with his bedroom door ajar when mum wasn't around and would masturbate when I walked past
- When I was in my room he'd "talk dirty" through the walls
- he'd try to get in my room naked when mum was out (I barricaded the door though and made sure these occasions were few and far between, usually I'd just hear the front door go and hear mums car drive away and would panic)
- he offered me money on a few occasions to sleep with him, and once left a note offering £500 in the bathroom (when he knew did be going in for a shower) with a sex toy next to it
- he'd have his dick hanging out if I walked in a room where he was on his own. Once I was watching TV lying on the sofa and snuck in and touched my face with it
- I had a sky box in my room and he used to sneak in when I was out and turn it to the porn channels so porn would be on when I switched the TV on
- perhaps the worst thing he did once was cover his dick in something (I'm guessing Vaseline but honestly dread to think) and pressed it against my bedroom mirror and wrote a message in it (I can't bring myself to type what we wrote)
It went on for 3 years and I kept quiet, basically because I didn't want mum to know what a scumbag she was married to, he'd had countless affairs before, which she'd forgiven him for, but I knew this would send her over the edge. In hindsight I should have gathered evidence - like kept the note and taken pictures of my mirror - but I panicked and my only thought at the time was "get out the house now". He never attacked me but the fear that he would was very real. I was out the house as much as possible.
Anyway when I was 19 and on the brink of moving out, mum put 2 and 2 together after seeing him grab my bum in the kitchen. She confronted him and he confessed to everything. We had a big talk about it, I told her everything except that he abused me as a child - I just couldn't see her hurt any further. She said she'd leave him, move in with me and forget all about him. I was thrilled, but never did, she stayed with him as she was in a low-ish paid job and couldn't support herself financially.
Fast forward 10 years, I am married and have a 10 month old DD of my own. Looking at my DD I couldn't imagine ever allowing that to happen to her. Me and mum haven't spoken about what happened since she decided she was staying with stepdad. It's like it's never happened, and she has tried to push a father/daughter relationship onto me. For example, at my wedding I wanted her to give me away (real dad passed away) but she insisted in front of a family friend that stepdad do it. When I said no she started crying, so I looked like a dick in front of her friend, long story short I basically got guilted into letting him give me away. It ruined my day completely and linking his arm made me feel sick.
Anyway DH and I decided that he'd never meet DD because he simply cannot be trusted. I don't even want him breathing the same air as her. They live abroad so when she was born mum came over and kept banging on about how DDs "grandad" (my stepdad) couldn't wait to meet her. After much soul searching I wrote her a letter telling her that a) he'd never ever meet Dd and b) I am so very hurt about her taking him back and I want to talk about it.
Initially her response was very understanding and she didn't argue or fall out with me like I expected she would. However I got no answers as to why she took him back exactly (it was an email) and a couple of days later I got a phone call to say she was in hospital, she had a huge panic attack because of my letter. So since then I've treaded very carefully about talking about it, she has had heart problems in the past and I don't want to trigger an attack. However it's a slow process and she's clearly upset that I've banned her husband from seeing my daughter. She sort of changes the subject when I bring it up and has mentioned that they are moving closer to his family in another country (I've told her I'm happy to come to her house with DD as long as he isn't there but I've had no invitation).
Anyway to the point of my post - dragging all this up has made me think a lot about what happened and it's been a difficult few months for me, there has been lots of tears and anger. Stepdad is seen as a Demi-god by most people we know, I'm constantly told by other family that after my own dad ran out on us when I was a child that I am "so lucky" that stepdad "took us on " and I surely consider him my real dad? I can't bear the lies anymore and I can't pretend everything is ok. I really want closure on the situation and I don't think I'll get it from my mum. DH thinks I should go to the police and press charges.
So my question is, after so long, and so few actual instances of physical assault, and no evidence other than emails/letters to and from me and mum, AIBU to think about pressing charges? Would it be worth it? Would anything happen? Would it cause more upset than good? He has a son, my stepbrother, who I am very close with, and I wouldn't want to lose him as a result of turning his dad in to the police. Stepbrother has a DD too (who stepdad has met once as a newborn) and I feel I owe it to her too to protect her. Please be brutally honest and tell me if it's not worth it!
I'm so sorry for what has happened to you. You must tell your step brother firstly, that little girl needs protecting. Have you had any counselling?
Do it, if only for your niece's sake.
Your DD is safe because you know, she isn't because her dad doesn't.
Your Mum has made her choice unfortunately, she is already lost.
OP I am so sorry to hear what you went through, and are still going through. Only you can devide whether reporting him is the best thing foryou because it is you who has to relay this distressing information to others. I am glad you have a friend as both witness and support if you do.
What he did was absolutely abhorrent and you have dine the right thing in shielding your DD from him.
I agree you should report this to the police. It might be helpful to take notes with you, particularly of details (eg incident A was Christmas 1996 when I was aged X).
Your mum has completely failed you. She will not protect your niece.
I understand how hard it is especially as you'll be worried about triggering a serious health reaction in your mum but for the sake of the next generation of girls in your family (and goodness knows how many more outside of it) you need to let people know about this man.
I'd start with your brother. It's best he hears it from you and face to face if possible. Think back to moments that can corroborate your story ... Like 'when mum briefly moved out in 2001' or ' remember the fuss about your dad giving me away' ... Then go on to explain you have been coerced by mum and his dad into keeping the secret but as you will never let his dad near your dd and you love him and neice you felt you had to tell him so he can protect his child. Explain you know it will be a shock to him but that now you have told him he can take whatever action he feels is best, but that you will have a clear conscience on that score. He might think you're trying to break the family so I'd be clear to him that you don't expect him to say or do anything on your behalf and that you're not suggesting he stop seeing his dad just be sure to never leave his dd alone with him.
If you plan to tell the police or your plan is to not stay silent with people outside the family when they ask why you don't go round etc ... Make sure you tell your brother what you plan to do. Even if he disagrees with you the fact you have had the courage to tell him face to face which will count for something when it calms down later. Then do it. Don't wait for them to start telling the world their version.
Your brother may have had an inkling that something like this was behind your reluctance to be more active with family or at least wondered about things in the past that didn't seem quite right. You never know his wife/ partner might have mentioned odd behaviour that they've laughed off as accidental but now they will see it for what it is. And he could be a big support.
He may be shocked and angry but he will want to find out from parents. They may deny it all, though it does sound as if your mother might at least give him the nod to keep an eye out for his dd, especially if you tell him to ask her about when she briefly left step father and his admission at the time.
Either way once you've told him. You will feel braver about telling others be it the police or those who think this man is a 'Demi god'. Always keep it factual. 'He sexually abused me from age x to y. Mum left him briefly because of it but went back to him. I didn't tell because they begged me not too but I became worried about my dd and neice so I am not keeping the secret anymore'. That's all anybody else apart from police or counsellor needs to know.
Get help from counselling groups mentioned by other posters.
Abusers don't think their victims are brave enough to out them. Your step dad will use your mothers health as a threat to keep you silent. I'd say your mums heart problems probably stem from living with such an awful man for years (who knows what he puts her through) and the guilt of knowing her daughter has been abused.
You'll be lightening her load too in long run.
I've not been in this situation but that's how I'd handle it if I was.
If it's something you want to follow up, the police will hopefully have someone who can advise you.
I'm so sorry this has happened to you, what a disgusting excuse for a human being. And I'm sorry too that your mum has not stood up for you, either then or now.
Did you see your mum when she was in hospital? How does anyone know it was linked to the letter, does that mean step dad has seen it? It all seems a bit convenient, that you sent her a letter that meant she had to face up to her failings as a mother and then suddenly there's a reason why you can't talk about it.
Could you perhaps tell your step brother and his partner together? I suspect he probably still sexually harasses people so he may even have done something to her when they visited.
I hope you find the course of action that is best for you and your family (by which I mean your husband and daughter)
its the least you can do i did it on behalf of my daughter and although nothing really happened it did mean that when she went to a solicitor demanding access to my daughter (not my son just my daughter) the solicitor told her he would not be allowed to see her so she dropped the case and doesn't see her at all
you have to protect your child xx
Thank you everyone for your responses, it's actually very comforting to hear that people agree I've been through something horrible after having it played down so much!
All your info was really useful, I am going to talk to rape crisis first to discuss my experience and my options, I have never had counselling so going to my GP on Thursday to ask for this as I think it will help. And i will be pressing charges. It's a huge thing, it could mean I have to stand up in court and have my name in the paper, and have everyone know what happened, but I know I need to remember that I've done nothing wrong.
But before any of that I'm talking to my brother and telling him everything. His LG is nearly 2 and has only met stepdad once when she was a few weeks old, and my brother and his GF have not been to visit them since (I do find this a bit odd and wonder if maybe his girlfriend had an incling as she was apparently very frosty with stepdad the whole visit). It will be harder to do that than any of it I think but my brother is understanding and I think he will believe me, especially when he was a daughter that he adores and would protect with his life.
Thank you again everyone, I will keep everybody updated as to how it goes, wish me luck
I know this might sound a bit twee coming from a stranger but I feel very proud of you. Good luck and take care
Good luck cannot I hope you get the support you need to take this further.
What happened to you is beyond belief, I'm so sorry.
Your name wouldn't be "in the paper" btw, anyone who reports a sexual offence immediately has anonymity for life, so nothing to worry about there.
Bloody well done! You're so brave and wonderful.
You'll have lifelong anonymity so no one will know who you are from the court case.
Be proud of yourself. And good luck with the counselling and coming to terms with it all. It's a rough road but you're heading in the right direction.
Well done. You are taking control back and that is amazing. May I tactfully suggest, given your update, that you tell both your brother and your SIL? It does sound like she is on to him, but just in case DB minimises it I think it will help protect your niece if her mum knows too.
You are being bloody brilliant op.
If it was me I'd have absolutely nothing to do with my Mum or StepDad and certainly wouldn't even consider letting them near my children. I think you should go and have some counselling about this and then see if you can make a decision on whether to take steps towards a prosecution.
It's quite shocking that you are being the one made to feel in the wrong.
Sorry didn't see your update.
How full of courage you are. How lucky your dd is. You were not. Stop thinking of your mum as a "mum" and start thinking of and treating her like a troubled woman. You cannot fix her or your past but you can own your future. Good luck.
Your mother is toxic. To have minimized your stepfather's abuse like that is a form of abuse in itself. She emotionally neglected you by staying with him and refusing to support you. It doesn't matter that she was financially dependent on him - most mothers would rather go without than put up with their daughter being abused and treated like sex object by a filthy old pervert. Making you accept him walking you down the aisle is just awful. You've been gaslighted your whole life so I think counseling will be great to help you see the truth on what happened.
You should definitely press charges and talk to your step brother and SIL. Often having your first child is a trigger for your own childhood issues to come back up to the surface after years of denial or trying to move on. As you say, it's when you look at your own child and realize how wrong your parents' behavior was.
Good luck and stay strong! Glad to hear you have a supportive DH and hopefully step brother too.
I think you should go to the police, there isn't much evidence but you have to try. He could abuse other girls in the future and you step-niece could be at risk. You are right to keep him away from your daughter. As far as your mum goes just invite her to visit alone and offer to visit her when he isn't around and leave it up to her. Let her know you would be there for her if she wanted to leave him for good.
Just saw your update. Well done
Hi Cannot - just to let you know, as a complainant in a sex case you will have anonymity for life. So your name will never be in the paper if you decide to press charges and have to give evidence. Good luck.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Well done. All good decisions. I too think your brother's gf has a pretty good idea of what her fil is like; I wonder if it's worth having a sounding-out type chat with her before talking to your brother?
I dp think that if anyone - anyone at all - says anything about your step dad, that you should respond truthfully. "Hmmm, no he was an awful sd, always trying it on. I had to barricade my bedroom door when mum was out" and so on. Tell the truth, you have done nothing wrong.
Good luck at the GP.
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