Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. 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)
OK, this may be long. It also maybe triggering re child molestation.
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.
Armadillo - two good suggestions there, and Ryledup, I agree - it'd almost be odd if he instantly accepted how his childhood was. It's a long term process.
Why did she leave her job 7 years ago? I might be inclined to give police or social services a call if you are brave enough. They might have a few snippets to add to your concerns and they all might add up to something?
Horrid situation - poor you, poor dh and poor dd. avoid avoid avoid.
Sorry for typos - 'rational'. And OP, you sound very humble about all this and not in any way like you have your own prejudices or axe to grind.
I think you sound a good person to make the decisions in this situation.
So sorry for you, your DCs and DH. . I would go with your gut instinct. Either way there is something not right with this woman and you have to protect your children. I have to say, alarm bells massively ringing with the potty training and cream. I hope your DD1 is ok. DH needs to see a counsellor. I know I am repeating what others have said, but you need as much support and reassurance you are doing the right thing as you can get.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
You say she always worked with children up until 7 yrs ago. Was the reason for stopping work discussed? Or was it just that she was of retirement age?
Is it possible that she was sacked? Is there any way you could contact her last workplace to discuss the resons for her leaving? Ie pose as a future employer?
Is it possible that she has done this kind of thing before, would your FiL cover it up, if he felt she had been wrongly accused for example?
Poocatcher,very sure she left job for legitimate reasons
Eds, dh has been coming to terms with his childhood since we met, so am in no way expecting him to acknowledge this over night. However he appears to completely refute the idea that his mother would do this to our daughter. In my heart I think he is wrong.
He thinks armadillo's excellent suggestions aren't worth it, insists my mum will think its nothing and so will nspcc.
I think I will have to talk to mum. If she says no contact dh will go along with it. If I cannot get him to agree to no contact, will inst on counselling, revisiting decision after 3 months of counselling. No invitations to be issued during this time, and visiting in public places. Me with sole responsibility for supervising dd1 when with them. If i am undermined or s attempts to get dd1 alone again contact will cease.
Sorry procatcher, didn't see your post, but seems you are thinking the same thing I am!
What I want is to say no contact I'm putting my foot down, I think I might be being too understanding of how upsetting this must be for dh
Fandom I think you have the makings of a good plan there. I really, really hope it works out - it must be hard feeling like there is conflict between you and DH over this, which is such a serious issue (I was going to say potentially serious, but I think it's already gone way beyond what would be acceptable).
Good luck, sincerely. We are here if you get stuck along the line x
If she isn;t sexually abusing your daughter she is certainly acting as if she is. Why else be so furtive and underhand taking her as far away as possible??.
Please put your DD first before all other people and considerations, ring NSPCC or speak to GP but do not let this happen again, whatever the cost to others.
I am sorry for your DH but his needs are not foremost.
Wishing you good luck, and moral support.
Tell your DH that there is nothing worse than being left with or being around an adult that you are scared will abuse you when you are a child. My Mother did nothing to stop me being physically abused by my stepfather even though I told her some stuff.
I also have some memory blanks from my childhood. He may not know how but he will have suffered at her hands. The huge blanks in your mind are your way of protecting youself from memories that just cannot be dealt with
I would insist on no contact at all.
I am sorry for your DH too, but you have to put the children first. It is his choice to deal with his own counselling and issues, but you can't put your children at risk.
I can't stress enough how important it is to follow your gut instinct on these things.
What an awful situation.
Something that crossed my mind is that you should put it in writing and lodge it with a solicitor that if something happened to you and your husband, the children wouldn't go to stay with his parents. And yes, I know your mum is around but you need to formally state this.
It's understandable that your DH would find it really hard to accept that there's a problem here. It's an awful thing to have to think about your own mother. However, if he is unable to face up to it then I think you will need to put your foot down very firmly.
As others have said, you need to protect your DCs (both of them) from the possibility of abuse. Personally, I think the only safe way is no contact, but if you do have contact, keep both DDs with you.
For OP's DH- I am not basing opinion on what may have happened in your childhood, just on the bare facts about what's happened with your daughter:
* Changing nappies and taking to potty when explicitly asked not to
* Applying cream in inappropriate places
* Applying cream when unnecessary (no soreness) and telling the child it is nice to use it
* Taking child to a distant/more private bathroom when there's a more convenient one
* Taking child to bathroom/potty when they've just been.
These facts alone are a big concern, let alone more subjective issues like your daughter not wanting to be changed by her.
I'm not an expert, but I work with children and I'd report something like this to the child protection officer at work straight away.
I can see this is a very difficult line to walk and I know it is easy with the distance from the situation to say choose the dc over your husband. That is really what I think you should do though.
Victims of abuse go on to become abusers themselves precisely in this way; being desperate to avoid confronting the truth about what happened to them at the hands of their abuser and a fear of still being abused. FIL is a secondary abuser through his enabling actions towards the primary abuser (MIL), potentially DH could become someone you also need to protect DC from if his past abuse leads him to protect the abuser over other victims as he is doing now. It is sad but it is difficult to raise children with someone who is still in the denial phase of dealing with child abuse from a still present family member. You need to be careful and wary of him and recognise that a choice may have to be made to sacrifice him in order to not play Russian roulette with your children's wellbeing.
I agree that your conclusion, based on the things you have written here, is correct and that she has already actually sexually abused your daughter. You cannot trust an abuse victim who has not dealt with and is nowhere near ready to deal with his own abuse, who has not separated mentally or otherwise from his abuser, to make the decisions about what is safe. He will be extremely motivated, potentially, to put the dc at risk of harm in order to prove you wrong and save himself confronting what may well have happened to him.
I do feel very sorry for you all, it is really terrible but I think you should stick with your instincts, what is the risk/reward balance?
One tiny suggestion OP - that you and your DH sit down and discuss it with your mum together. Maybe even get him to lead the description of the incidents with you just adding details / facts if necessary.
This may help avoid him discounting her advice because 'she only thinks that because of the way you described it'
I've applied sudocream 'inexpertly' it was in patches on dd's bottom down her leg, up her stomach, in my hair, in dd's mouth and hands (where she made a grab at it etc).
Where it wasn't however was in side her labia/vagina.
You're husband is an adult, he can make his own decisions, take care of himself. His choice what he wants to do/who he sees.
Your DD's are very young and vulnerable, they can't protect themselves. You absolutely have to.
Cut ties with this woman completely. Tell your husband he can't possibly want to risk your childs safety and welbeing on the off chance you are wrong in what you know you saw, how your child started behaving, how your MIL behaves towards your daughter, your husbands own very clear description of systematic abuse as a child-even if he can't remember most of it and what your instinct is screaming.
Your FIL isn't nice at all, he knows what that woman did to his sons, he knows what she is capable of and yet enables her by staying silently by her side.
Go to your GP, speak to NSPCC as suggested below. And go with your instincts on this one.
Please, please, please trust your instincts. Your DH is understandably not wanting to 'believe' your fears and his instinct will be to defend his mother but you absolutely must protect your children.
I would cease all contact immediately, no hesitations whatsoever. Your children's welfare simply must come first.
It must be incredibly difficult to see your DH so upset by this but your duty is to protect your little ones from a woman who is at best unstable to say the least.
Please, stay strong and resolute for their sakes.
If she worked with young children for so long, why wouldn't she be able to apply cream properly? She would have had years of practice with helping potty-training kids, so why do it 'inexpertly' with your DD?
Some good advice here I think, hope your DH gets on board with it.
Also, I think you can apply to get a background check on people who are close to your children, mainly used by single parents wanting to check on new partners - but maybe it would be worth looking into whether there is anything known about her? You might find out something that would convince your DH?
If she has worked in nurseries etc, there is no way that she would have applied cream "inexpertly" as it is part and partial of the job. It gives me the shivers to think she may have done this before, because let's face she would have ample opportunity.
OP, like PP poster said, I do think you have a makings of a plan there. I think it's a good idea to talk to your mum - is there any chance your mum/close friend could be around if mil is around, for back up and extra pair of hands and eyes because your mil sounds very determined to get DD alone and your DH seems to be a bit paralysed/regresses around her.
I agree with talking things over with your mum to get another perspective, so to speak, but I definitely wouldn't be letting her have any contact with the DC, she's already proven she refuses to listen to requests not to be alone with the little one, why on earth would anyone risk it??
BTW, I do agree that ceasing complete contact is for the best for the safety and well being of your DCs and your sanity and peace of mind, but families can be complicated things, can't they? I think you will eventually end up ceasing contact, I hope it's sooner than later.
Agree with PopMusic - there would be nothing inexpert about a nursery nurse applying nappy cream.
The whole thing is utterly vile, she would have had countless opportunities to do this with small, vulnerable toddlers. It's a shame there isn't enough evidence to involve the police, I would definitely take advice from the NSPCC.
I really feel for you - it is very hard for your DH, and he must have had a horrible upbringing but ultimately your need to protect your dc's is paramount over anything or anyone else.
I am really sorry you are in this position.
However the reality is that a significant proportion of child abuse happens because adults find it very difficult/embarrassing to challenge behavioural red flags.
The fact is that your MIL's behaviour is not normal. For someone supposedly experienced in childcare to see the need to apply nappy cream to a potty trained child is a red flag, especially given the furtive nature in which this was done.
This does not mean your MIL has abused your daughter or is an abuser. It does however mean that you have legitimate concerns about her behaviour.
The reality is it is very unlikely you can prove your suspicions (and given the implications for your daughter you wouldn't want to).
Therefore as a responsible parent all you can do is put your daughter first. As a minimum that means absolutely no unsupervised contact with MIL even for 5 mins.
I understand this must be awful for your partner, but for my part I would ask him:
As terrible as you feel about making the decision to cut or limit your daughters contact with your mother now, think about how you would feel if in 10 years time you got a visit from social services because your daughter had rung childline to disclose she had been abused for years by your mother and you were faced with acknowledging that despite the red flags you have had pointed out to you now, you had done nothing - and by taking no action had effectively enabled the abuse? Could you answer if your daughter asked you - didn't you suspect? Why did you let me be alone with her?
Does that not make your course of action obvious?
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.