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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.

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 07-Nov-12 17:16:09

I'm an other one who thinks having a chat to your GP would be a really good idea. If its all a misunderstanding no harm will have been done. Your MIL's behaviour is pretty inappropriate at best and talking to your GP give you some ideas as to how to protect your DCs from her influence.
Trust your instinct.

Pagwatch Wed 07-Nov-12 17:18:50

Why was his counsellor allowed to discuss him - at 18 years old - with his mother?

fandomfanny Wed 07-Nov-12 17:19:58

You know annie when I suggested that he was shocked! She really is a piece of work

TheArmadillo Wed 07-Nov-12 17:20:33

I was told that I was 'unable to cope with life' and that I didn't function like other people. Occasionally to give it more weight it would be 'x said...' It was to keep me dependent on them so they could keep complete control of my life. I believed it for a long time. It would also make him reluctant to engage with further counsellors.

fandomfanny Wed 07-Nov-12 17:24:58

Pagwatch the counsellor wasn't- mil told him counsellor said there was something wrong with him, that he should just tell her what was the matter and do as he was told. He believed her.

ladyWordy Wed 07-Nov-12 17:26:36

You're not over-reacting fandom.

The thing is, children can't protect themselves, so you have to do it. Even at the expense of your relationship with your DH (or anyone!) I see it this way: adults can fend for themselves, and children cannot…it's that simple.

Besides which, you've described your MIL as unbalanced, manipulative and unstable…obsessed with young children….and her own children have unexplained scarring and disturbing memories. She has also lied and attempted to defraud you. And that's before we get to over-riding your 'no' – always a very bad sign - and the unexplained, unnecessary behaviour around toileting.

If she was a stranger you wouldn't let her near your DC. So there is no way you are fussing about nothing here, and if DH is upset, he will have to deal with it - as I'm sure he will.

Be strong, we're here for hand-holding if you need it. brew

fandomfanny Wed 07-Nov-12 17:26:46

Thearmadillio that exactly what she does. So sorry its happened to you I know how deeply its affected dh

ArtVandelay Wed 07-Nov-12 17:26:56

Well if that's not sexual abuse, what the Hell is? You poor thing and your poor DD. I second the GP and call NSPCC for advice. What a revolting woman, well done for not punching her (yet). It's pretty telling that you parent tell your own mum so far, but I think you should.

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 07-Nov-12 17:27:33

Your poor DH sad

ArtVandelay Wed 07-Nov-12 17:27:43

Daren't not parent.

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 07-Nov-12 17:32:00

Go with Art's suggestion of calling the NSPCC, its a very good idea.

fandomfanny Wed 07-Nov-12 17:34:16

What I'm worried about is that I feel I have let Dd1 down, that I should have cut all contact immediately, that ss and my mum will think I have failed to protect her and blame me.
I knew it seemed wrong, but with nothing concrete cutting contact seemed a huge step.

ArtVandelay Wed 07-Nov-12 17:48:15

It's true that you might have to answer some uncomfortable questions but you have not buried your head in the sand and you have done your best in the face of real family and social pressure. Cut the contact now and I don't see a problem. And talk to your mum, she will support you in the way your DH can't because he's still a bit controlled by the toxic family dynamic. It's not an everyday situation, its impossible to say with certainty how any of us would react in such horribly bizarre circumstances. Don't be scared, but do talk to mum, GP, NSPCC etc.

PrincessSymbian Wed 07-Nov-12 17:50:02

I think you were trying to manage the situation in the best way you could and if your dh had of been fully on board then your dd would not have ended up alone with your m-I-l. It feels to me like your dh is reluctant to face up to the reality if his mothers behaviour.

StrawberriesTasteLikeLipsDo Wed 07-Nov-12 17:55:00

You are misconstruing anything. Please never see that woman again. She has assaulted your daughter. I can et why your DH may not want to / be able to see it. You are acting correctly. Im not sure if police could help? I would be freaking out.

StrawberriesTasteLikeLipsDo Wed 07-Nov-12 17:56:13

And you've let no one down, you tried your best in the face of a situation most would find hard

Itchywoolyjumper Wed 07-Nov-12 18:03:16

You haven't let anyone down, this is not your fault, this is your MIL's fault. It sounds like you are the first person to call her for what she is and you did it with little support from anyone else. I'm so sorry this is happening to your family but you are helping to stop it.

EdsRedeemingQualities Wed 07-Nov-12 18:07:47

I would think he probably cannot find it easy to face up to what has happened to him during his life at her hands.

It sounds like serious, systematic abuse. Poor sod.

ErikNorseman Wed 07-Nov-12 18:15:07

She engineered a situation whereby she had the opportunity and the intention to put her fingers inside a child's vagina unnecessarily. That IS sexual abuse, whatever her intentions might have been.

Cantbelieveitsnotbutter Wed 07-Nov-12 18:25:39

Trust your instincts they sound v justified. Your other half sounds understandably mortified and upset. We are all engineered to love our parents no matter what so its hard to face the prospect they are not.

fandomfanny Wed 07-Nov-12 18:31:16

Erik, I can't be sure that was the intention - she might have just been inexpertly applying cream as my dh thinks.
Dh has read the thread. He thinks everyone is assuming the worst and was indignant that I have implied he was physically abused as he has no memory of that although he admits that he has little memory of huge sections of his childhood and the scars/ healed breaks is true, and that he was emotionally abused and manipulated. But you're all only assuming the worse because of the unproven physical abuse hmm
He doesn't think we should cut contact but limit it to our house. I do not think this is enough and think if he can read all this and still think that he is more in denial than I thought.
Obviously its his mum and I have sympathy, but I have to protect the girls.

RyleDup Wed 07-Nov-12 18:35:50

It sounds as though he has blocked a lot of things out, which is a pretty normal reaction. My dh is the same, at the hands of an abusive step parent he remembers virtually nothing about his childhood.

TheArmadillo Wed 07-Nov-12 18:40:55

I think there are several things you can suggest to your dh here

1) that he contact the NSPCC and get advice from them on the situation as impartial advisors (though agree beforehand what is the pertinant information).

2) that you take a break from his parents for a while (3months? 6months?) while he has counselling and make no major decisions about them till the end of that period.

YouOldSlag Wed 07-Nov-12 18:42:18

In your shoes OP I would want to cut contact, but if you DH insists, I would make it short visits in public places.

However, I see no possible benefit to your MIL being in their lives at all. Or yours.

I don't think the cream was "inexpertly appplied", I think it was hugely inappropriate behaviour and totally unnecessary. Massive alarm bells.

EdsRedeemingQualities Wed 07-Nov-12 18:45:57

You clearly have huge and imo justified misgivings about his mum.

He's clearly got a huge struggle to deal with what may or may not have happened to him in his life.

That's NORMAL - remembering stuff, or accepting that your folks are unpleasant or damaged people is really, really traumatic and difficult.

I think he's doing better than a lot of people in a similar position would be so kudos to him for being fairly reasonable.

BUT it's not enough - you're right. Your children ARE at risk imo, if not of sexual abuse (though I would consider it this, if it happened like you've described - sorry) then of being confused and bewildered by your mIL, who is acting expressly against your wishes and undermining you consistently.

This is wrong in itself and damaging. Add to that the fact you're not happy having them around her, and the children will pick up that all is not well and it will have implications in that sense.

As far as I can see, and this will sound unkind - I'm sorry, but the main problem you have got is your DH being unable/unwilling to let you act in the best interests of your children, because he himself is still under her spell. sad

I'm really, really sorry to say that. It's not like I can imagine he would EVER want them to be hurt or damaged in any way or to upset you. But he needs to seek further counselling or proper therapy - which may be almost impossibly hard - and he needs to step back and let yOU make the trational decisions from a POV of someone who has not been abused (in any sense) yourself.

Best of luck to all of you - it's a really horrid situation, but it can be managed and any damage minimised if you are both willing to concede that you're on the same page, essentially x

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