Note: Mumsnetters don't necessarily have the qualifications or experience to offer relationships counselling or to provide help in cases of domestic violence. Mumsnet can't be held responsible for any advice given on the site. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

concerned family member may be a child molestor

(606 Posts)
fandomfanny Wed 07-Nov-12 15:37:42

OK, this may be long. It also maybe triggering re child molestation.

The background:
My mil is very unbalanced, manipulative and unstable. My dh agrees with this. He credits her behaviour as causing his deep seated anxiety issues, previous depression, self esteem issues etc. She hates me as I have removed dh from her control. Fil enables her, admits she is v difficult person he doesn't want to spend time with (works abroad). But he will defend her to the hilt/ tell people to put up with her unreasonable behaviour etc.

Has not worked at all for 7ish years, has worked in nursery and playgroup settings before then. Totally unable to form or maintain relationships with adults. Preoccupied/ obsessed with young children. Dh and bil covered in unexplained scars, healed fractures. Both have virtual no memories of their childhood. The ones they do have are generally very odd or disturbing.
After telling my dh to leave me and move back home so she could raise our dd and then only child we agreed to never see her without fil, which means we saw them rarely. Fine by both of us husband much happier when we have little contact.

After dd2 I was readmitted to hospital. 1.5 years had passed since incident above. Mil has been on best behaviour, seemingly changed. Dh could not take time off to care for DC when I was in hospital; would have lost his job and we would have lost everything. My df had a heart attack at same time, so my DM unavailable. The only person who could help was mil. Very very unhappy I agree she can come. Seems fine. Dd1 v clingy, but new baby +mummy in hospital seems to explain it.

I am discharged to convalase at home. Mil stays to help, I am happier as it means I can supervise, until well enough to send her home. Dd1 seems to be under going potty training regression. I feel uncomfortable with mil in house decide to do more. Put Dd1 in nappies again to make things easier (Dd1 is 2). Dd1 has always been very private about toileting- doesn't like being changed in big public changing rooms etc. We respect this. Dd1 seems unhappy about mil changing her. Me and dhsay I will do changes from now on, explain nicer for mil and Dd1 and help me get back in routine so she can go home!
Over next 2 days mil changes Dd1 every time I'm out of room, even when specifically asked not to. At this point just think she is being exasperating and making some kind of point/ power play.

Then I walk in on her and Dd1 mid change. Dd1 seems very uncomfortable. Mil visibly annoyed I've come in and seems on edge. She has nappy cream all over her fingers. It all seems wrong. There is nappy cream on Dd1 but inside her labia,not over normal areas.
I remove both dds and take them upstairs to play. I am freaked out is this something innocentthat imI'm misinterpreting or has something horrible just happened? Dh comes home, after DC asleep I tell him what I saw, how upset I am and that I want mil to leave in morning.
Dh agrees mil can leave but very upset I could even think this about his mother. Thinks I have misunderstood what is happening. I admit this is possible but that risk of being wrong is too great.

We agree that mil will never be alone with DC again. She leaves.
Over next few months we see her with fil 3 times for very brief periods. She is never unsupervised and over this period dh finds out she has lied to his face and cost us 1000's in a bid to make us financially dependent on them. He agrees this shows how evil and selfish she is.

Fast forward to this month. Dh wants to see extended family and his childhood home. We agree to visit il's and he promises to support me in not allowing Dd1 and DC to be alone with mil no matter what.

We go and dh becomes frightened child in face of il bullying. Undermines me in stopping his mum being alone with Dd1 who is the only DC mil seems to be interested in.

Then mil starts trying to take Dd1 to potty. Alone, in distant parts of the house when there is a bathroom next door, when she has just been and when mil has been told not to. I end up literally chasing her around the place.
Eventually I go change younger Dc ready for departure. I return Dd1 and mil have disappeared. Dh has not noticed.
Find them in most distant bathroom, there is a weird atmosphere. Dd1 on potty. Mil getting out nappy cream. I look at her, she says oh, disapointedly and leaves. I help Dd1 finish pulling trousers up. She asks for cream, which we don't use. I say no and she says mil said it would be nice.

We go home. I lay down the law to dh in the car about his failure to support. He is contrite agrees he has let me down and undermined me. But he is not convinced it is nesscessary to keep mil from being alone, that he is upset I could be worried about his mum like this and am overreacting because of her emoitional abuse of her him as a child and her dislike of me.

So mumsnet, help me out. I am I completely overreacting or is my concern legitimate. And if so what should I do? There is nothing I could go ton the police with ifyswim, just a feeling of unrest and wrongness and weird behaviour.

Dh is over distressed and refusing to discuss, though he says he is thinking. I feel sick with worry whenever I think about it. Dd1 seems fine, thank god.

quietlysuggests Fri 16-Nov-12 10:57:58

OP dont be sorry that you asked MN for advice.
People did move (unfairly IMO) from the particular to the general and yes they were also affected by their own experiences. Past experiences can confer wisdom but also creates biases.
Look, you have a solid plan and determination and you are not afraid to see this as it is. There are plenty of parents who just refuse to allow their brains to process such an awful sight as you have seen.
So well done OP, the very best of luck.

Almacks Fri 16-Nov-12 19:15:44

I have read this whole thread, and would just like to add another supportive comment OP, although most of it's been said already I feel you could do with extra hugs after some of these posts.

I think you are handling a potentially "worst nightmare" situation with calm, wisdom and strength. You are appropriately escalating concern in the light of experience and advice received, and I'm sure you'll continue to do so. Well done. I can't begin to imagine what this must be taking out of you. You are a great mother, and I really hope you have someone or a couple of people in RL to support YOU.

I would just add three things, first another recommendation to take careful notes of every troubling incident including as much info as possible (date, time, those present, who said/did what as best as you can remember) as soon as possible after the event. This is something I've been taught as part of safeguarding training.

Secondly, if you have already questioned your DD about the specific incidents you've mentioned, that can't be helped. However, if you haven't then please DON'T if possible. Deux suggested questionning your DD re the incidents (I'm sure with the best of intentions), however the slightest hint of "suggestion" (as it's called, meaning that someone gave the child the idea that they might have been touched inappropriately or whatever) can be enough to make a case of child abuse extremely difficult to prove in court. This is also something I've been taught in safeguarding training. It is best if the child is only questioned by people who've been trained to do it.

Thirdly, and this is just from my experience as a mother, I think your plan (well done on the plan, btw) should include another trusted adult who knows the situation at meet ups. Someone upthread suggested your mother. I think you need this because if one of your DD urgently needed your full attention for some reason, the other DD would otherwise be left unprotected.

Oh, actually, there was a fourth thing. As MayIsOut alluded upthread, cutting out all contact with your MIL, whilst being your ultimate goal, will not mean your DC never meet another pedophile. They probably pass several every time you go to Tescos. Ok, they don't have a relationship with those people, but it's not as though once you cut out MIL it's job done, protection job done. Unfortunately. So I think some people need to remember that.

I expect the NSPCC went through most of the above with you anyway.

You seem to be handling this with such bravery (including facing the possibility of separation from a DH whom you love and believe is a good person) and such wisdom. I really wish you well.

amillionyears Fri 16-Nov-12 19:43:34

op,hello. I too am new to posting on the thread ,though I have been lurking.
There have been a few things that I am not sure on, apologies if you have already answered the questions.
1.You said , a week ago on here, that you dont think your DH would take the children to see your mil without you.
How would this work if say you were ill for many months or incapacitated in any way? Would he then take them?
2.He could always go alone to see his mum. He doesnt have to take them. I think you may have covered this, but I am not sure.
3.Finally, I would urge a tiny caution about taking advice from any organisation. At the end of the day, they are strangers, you are the parent. ^You see everything, a stranger never does.

thetrackisback Fri 16-Nov-12 20:05:20

Fandom I am de lurking to wish you all well in what must be a horrible situation. I think you have made the right decision because you haven't got conclusive proof but it must be traumatic for you to have to see her. So sorry you've had a tough time on this thread.

Smithson6 Fri 16-Nov-12 22:32:53

yes Almacks. lovely post.

fandomfanny Tue 29-Jan-13 14:52:56

I just wanted to update this thread.
Since this thread my husband has been accessing counselling about his relationship with his mother and it appears to have been good for him.

DD1 is wonderful and we have been supporting her in her confidence- she has always been a very shy little girl, but she is much more confident over the past few months. Her behaviour remains age appropriate and there appears to be no long-term problems although obviously I am maintaining constant vigilance.

Since our last visit, which was a week or so before I started this thread, my husband has spoken to his mother once- on christmas day for a 30s phone call, and only then because she answered the phone. We have both ignored her emails and cards, but responded normally to contact from fil. Nothing has been said and it is quite possible that she has not even noticed, as she is emailing quite regularly, without reply.

DH is very happy with the level of contact he currently has. I am getting a lot of judgey comments from my own family about not supporting my children in a relationship with their grandparents, which I am trying to ignore.

They are intending to call in en route to their holiday home to drop off christmas/ birthday presents for an hour sometime over the next month- dh is demonstrating his support though as one suggested date was immediately veto'ed by him as he knew he would not be available to help supervise.

However I am feeling rising anxiety about this visit- there was an original date proposed, where I had assistance supervising, which was cancelled due to snow, but I'm not sure I'll be able to get help for any dates this month.

In-laws never ever plan anything more than four hours in advance, which is difficult as we simply do not have any local help and my mum would need notice, due to her own caring commitments.

I can't decide if I should supervise myself and get it over with, refuse to let them come until they give me enough notice to arrange help supervising, or some third option I haven't thought of.

Anyway, that's the situation. I want to thank everyone for their help and support both on and off the thread.

BerylStreep Tue 29-Jan-13 15:00:11

fandomfanny, glad to hear it seems to have settled down, and that your DH is supporting you in maintaining the much needed distance from his family.

Surely if both you and DH are there, then you can keep an eye on one child each?

BerylStreep Tue 29-Jan-13 15:06:00

Sorry, I had forgotten that DH isn't great at standing up to her. No wonder.

Are there any friends or other Mums you could call on?

Unfortunatlyanxious Tue 29-Jan-13 15:20:34

I am the equivalent of your DH as in the abused child. You owe this woman nothing at all, neither does your DH.

I think you need support if you are going to contemplate seeing her at all so must have a trusted adult with you and your dc at all times. If there are two trusted adults then you can each be with one of your DD's constantly. So they will just have to fit in with what is convenient to you.

I wish you the very best and am so glad your DH is getting some help and has such a supportive partner in you.

Also take no notice of people getting judgemental about your dc not seeing their grandparents, your protecting your dc.

fandomfanny Tue 29-Jan-13 15:24:07

Yeah I don't think relying on dh is a good idea- this would be his first real exposure to his mother since our last visit, where he failed utterly- no matter how much counselling is helping the girls safety is paramount.

No local friends or mums- we relocated fairly recently. Given enough notice I could arrange for friends to be here- however they would really need at least a weeks notice to arrange their schedules to do so- people I trust to explain the situation to. There are mums at DD1's playgroup who seem nice, but it seems a very personal and odd thing to ask ifyswim.

fuzzpig Tue 29-Jan-13 15:24:49

Thanks for updating. You're doing really well. Stay strong! There's no need to agree to a visit at all if you don't want.

fandomfanny Tue 29-Jan-13 15:25:53

Unfortunaly- thanks for your comments, I think you're right that I will just have to make them fit in with us.

fandomfanny Tue 12-Feb-13 18:07:43

Update- they came. Once Mil realised that she was not going to be allowed to be alone with them she did not even attempt to play with them. Just sat there, watching them and commenting on my parenting/ their personalities/ behaviour. I ignored/ corrected/ outright mocked as appropriate. She did repeatedly offer to watch them for us, take them to the park etc. I just ignored "misunderstood," or told her no very clearly. She did not like this but clearly did not know how to get her own way. DD's had a great time however as Fil did play and my relatives who came to supervise are great fun- they had four adults dedicated to their entertainment, while I policed mil.

While dh was able to stand firm and be supportive in our own territory, I decided the easiest thing to do was supervise mil, rather than each child ifyswim, so I stuck to her like glue. My dh also appreciated this as it meant he didn't have to talk to her much. I decided to not do my usual good dil job of facilitating conversation or play, so there were lots of long awkward silences on her part.

So all good.
However mil has clearly realised that I am on to her and has emailed me loads of times in the week since the visit, attempting to reintroduce a friendly relationship between us. Urgh.

The only issue is that Bil is getting married this year and she is attempting to insert herself into our travel arrangements via these emails. I feel like I have to have to reply to these- I don't want her to book expensive hotel rooms with them that I will not use, as I'm concerned she could then use this to blackmail dh into guilt about not staying with them. DH has agreed to contact Fil and explain that the offer does not suit us and that we will be doing something else.
So not contacting her directly and letting her think she can get back in that way, but not leaving us open to outright horribleness about it either.

I have a feeling she's going to kick off about it, as I'm pretty sure she's done it to attempt to get dd's alone at the wedding under the guise of watching them when she goes to bed early so DH and I could attend the evening do. I've already organised other babysitting and it'd be a cold day in hell before I'd let her. DH is 100% onside.

ZorbaTheHoarder Tue 12-Feb-13 18:32:06

Well done, Fanny! I think you have handled this incredibly tricky situation really, really well, because you have managed to let your MIL know that all her attempts to get to your daughters will come to nothing, while at the same time keeping your husband on board, which was one of your main concerns. You have shown incredible strength of character throughout this nightmare scenario. I think you are doing a great job of protecting your children and also helping your husband to see what kind of person his mother is. I really can't get over how sick she is not to want to play with them unless she can get them on their own. I think that not engaging with her and letting FIL know that you will be making your own arrangements is exactly the right thing to do. All the best for the future.

fandomfanny Tue 12-Feb-13 18:45:13

Thanks for the support zorba.
I don't want her to think she can get a raise out of me by emailing me, and I've been ignoring her up until now. But I think that this will only get worse and give her more leverage if I ignore it. So routing it through dh and fil seems the easiest way to defuse the whole thing.

Sunnywithshowers Tue 12-Feb-13 18:51:59

Well done, I remember your thread. She is beyond awful.

GoSuckEggs Tue 12-Feb-13 19:35:38

I am glad you came back Fanny! I remember you op, and just felt for you, it seemed like you could do no right! Far, far, far too much hysterical postings, people telling you to seek advise and when the answer was not what they wanted they were not happy. I think sometimes they get too much and can end up failing and unsupporting a poster. So i am glad you managed to come back.

BerylStreep Tue 12-Feb-13 20:05:07

Fandom, well done. No need for any more contact for quite a while.

GregBishopsBottomBitch Tue 12-Feb-13 20:12:50

Well done, Im glad that your DH is making peace with his childhood and realising the repeating history, its good for him to acknowledge and deal with it, well done him too.

LemonBreeland Tue 12-Feb-13 20:15:51

I remember your thread from first time around. I'm glad your DH is seeking help wrt his childhood, and it seems you managed the visit very well. It would obviously be better for you if you never had to see her again but clearly that is difficult.

yellowbrickrd Tue 12-Feb-13 22:32:58

Your thread is so chilling - I have spent over an hour reading it all. This update sadly highlights how precarious your plan is - it need only be one hitch, one distraction, one communication breakdown from 'policing' this person to result in tragedy for your dc.

Neyite Tue 12-Feb-13 23:22:11

Could your mother be your babysitter for the wedding?

Have we not been here before?

fandomfanny Tue 12-Feb-13 23:38:20

Thanks for the support everyone- I am very happy with how it went to be honest. My boundaries were firm and DH was completely supportive on every level. I was very proud of him at the points when he stood up to her.

Beryl- yep there is little prospect of any contact before the wedding at the end of the summer, we're just so busy, such a shame. such a relief. And I've already put measures in place for the wedding (such as babysitting, staying in separate hotels etc) to make it as safe as possible.
As everyone says it would obviously be better if we never saw her again but I need to achieve that safely, legally and keeping my family together.

Yellow- I'm not sure what about my latest update makes you think the plan is precarious. There was one adult solely assigned to watch mil. Three adults who knew that Mil was not to be alone with children under any circumstances supervising the children and my fil. It would take a pretty big breakdown in communication to result in tragedy in that scenario and is a better level of supervision than you would get in a supervised contact centre.
If you have any practical suggestions I would love to hear them.

For me the biggest risk would be if relaxed my vigilance and I know that will never happen. I will never ever trust her on any level.

perhaps if you had provided a link to your first thread you would have saved a good deal of time and trouble for other mnetters. same concerns circumstances slightly tweaked. still worried? you have had plenty of good advice. sort it out

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now