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Trigger warning - Should I tell my kids about my childhood sexual abuse and/or rape(s)?

(27 Posts)
Endlesssadness Thu 08-Sep-16 23:42:52

God do I wish I didn't have to voice this question sad

Sorry to be brief but I'm struggling, and desperate for some help, please be kind. Please.

As per the title really. In general it's more varied an answer but what I will say next may change things.

Firstly, I have a 'young' pre teen and a mature mid teen. I was abused by my father as a child. Raped as a late teen and was raped again last year (more than once sad) I have had so much trauma I find it hard to believe I'm here. Anyway. My husband is incredibly emotionally abusive* and has gaslighted me for years. As part of the abuse he is using these (and other sad) facts against me (unless I do X he will do Y) and wants me to move out cos "I'm a slapper" and wants the kids to stay with him, which I know they will not want because he is always angry around them.

Please don't cloud this with I should contact women's aid, get counselling etc cos these things have or are happening (with minimal success cos I'm so fucked up cos all the horrendous things that have happened to me)

I just need opinions on if I should tell my kids???? I want to protect them forever, but in my own journey I'm getting to a place I already wanted to tell people, but my kids would need to know first. I want to just give some facts and explanation for why I've been so behaviourally different etc. No TMI (too much information) just age appropriate info. But also I have the c*nt element of feeling forced to tell them so he can stop torturing me with it. Feel upset he's derailed my secret plans, yet again.

Just help me, please? sad

*I did an online test today and asked a friend in a non abusive relationship to do it so I could compare. There were 40 questions, I expected a couple yes cos I thought 'life' if you know what I mean. She got zero and I was upset that it's so normalised to me I expected some things listed to be normal. My score? 31 sad sad sad

user1469553305 Thu 08-Sep-16 23:51:00

I don't have any answers but sending you a hand hold flowers

weekendninja Thu 08-Sep-16 23:58:18

I'm so sorry you have experienced this.

With regards to your DC'S, I would not tell them about the sexual abuse just yet. I would fear they would not be able to process it and could cause more harm than good. I would be worried that they would take a lot of the worry on your behalf.

Could you explain to them that you have had things in the past that have upset you and you are trying to come to terms with it?

weekendninja Fri 09-Sep-16 00:01:27

With regards to the abuse you receive from your 'D'H, I would suggest that they have probably picked up more than you imagine and yoy really do need to leave quickly.

GiddyOnZackHunt Fri 09-Sep-16 00:15:02

I've had a friend ask me a similar question (she's out of the relationship properly thank god) and my thoughts were:
The dc is mid teens and needs to know that their mother is telling the truth. A neutral third party needs to be involved in the telling though as any accusations of bias will be brought up.
Good luck

KittensDoNotLikeFluffyBlankets Fri 09-Sep-16 00:32:48

Agree with Giddy. Yes, tell them. Yes, involve neutral third party.

I would add, on the question of timing/coercing by partner, one thing.

Rehearse and write down what you will tell them so you make it digestible and also so you feel comfortable with it. Doing this will also allow you to work out "within yourself" whether you are ready to do this or are being coerced into it- listen to what your inner voice tells you as you rehearse. That will tell you if this is the right time.

Rockingaround Fri 09-Sep-16 00:48:28

Please don't tell your kids, they're too young to process it. I was told at 12 by my mums friend about what happened to my mum and I honestly didn't need to know. It made me "weird' about child abuse (media) - like I think about it too much, am very very suspicious etc and my early relationships were not healthy at all. Spare them, they'll carry it with them and it's not their cross to bear. When they're older tell them about their own father but not the personal, horrific sexual abuse you have endured, be strongerflowers

FoundFreedom Fri 09-Sep-16 01:02:04

So sorry you are going through this. Have you heard of "The Freedom Programme" You've mentioned Womens Aid, have they mentioned it? what exactly have WA advised you to do in your situation? PM if you feel more comfortable than answering on thread. I have a recording app on my phone that when he starts you could stick it on & record him threatening you without him knowing its recording. You then have this for proof of his abuse towards you. You unfortunately will need proof of his abuse when you leave him & fight him for residency of your children. There's a new law been brought out in 2015 for mental abuse, I will try & find the link for you. It seems like it will be very helpful when needing to prove you have suffered from abuse from this man, as he will no doubt deny everything & blame it on you saying you were actually the abusive one. I am unsure whether you should tell your pre teen & teen about the sexual stuff until they are older. as someone else said they might still be too young to process it & may get very protective of you & worried over you, which will affect them mentally. I do agree though that you should speak with them explaining in some way why you have been acting the way you have with a 3rd party present for support for you all. I am glad you are in touch with support networks that are helping you through this. You are a brave lady who is helping yourself out of this situation & helping your children. Good luck with everything x

SandyY2K Fri 09-Sep-16 01:29:11

How old are your kids ?

I think if he's blackmailing you... then tell them with a professional present. Like a family counsellor.

SomeonesRealName Fri 09-Sep-16 06:40:39

I'm not against the idea of telling them altogether but I don't think you should tell them as an alternative to leaving the relationship, as it sounds like it's the horribly abusive relationship you're in now that's causing you to feel under all this pressure and unable to cope. It doesn't sound like it would be a very safe environment for young adolescents to process that kind of information. I know you asked for people not to take the ltb line but I don't know how not to; I don't think it's reasonable really to ask us to take the elephant out of the room. I suspect that telling the DC what happened to you while not leaving the situation might not help as much as you think. Keep on with counselling, Women's Aid, etc and talk in counseling about these feelings you're having, for your well-being and the DCs you need to start taking steps to heal and protect yourself.

Wallywobbles Fri 09-Sep-16 06:47:52

There are ways of telling them. I've never hidden my childhood rape from my kids but I don't give details.
When they asked if their dad had been violent I slightly fudged the response and just said he had physically hurt me.
I would tell them barebones but let them ask for details if they want them.

pallasathena Fri 09-Sep-16 08:24:22

No. Its too much for young minds to process and anyway, what do you hope to achieve by telling them?
You sound at the end of your tether and you must regain some control over your life. There are people who can help you...if you reach out.

JohnnyMcGrathSaysFuckOff Fri 09-Sep-16 08:30:55

Hi OP

From the other side of the fence, if that's okay?

My dad's family has always had a weird dynamic. My aunt in particular is SO jolly-hockey-sticks, stiff-upper-lip, mustn't-grumble that it's ODD. She is also super 'respectable' and does everything 'the right way', and very invested in family.

I never met my granddad as he died before I was born.

One day when I was about 19, my granny (who we later found out had early-stage dementia) said 'You know, Granddad used to rape [aunt's name].'

I was totally thunderstruck. For ages I didn't know whether to believe her or not. But later, other family members confirmed it.

Now, I'm glad I know. It helps me make sense of some things I found weird about my aunt, and feel sympathetic to her. I see now that she has invested enormously in having a 'normal' life after the horrors of her teen years (she was 15-16).

Also, I have been assaulted myself, and I think it's really important that women speak about these things. It is horrible, but it is an experience that has happened to other strong, intelligent women in my family. That also helps, a little.

So not now, but when they are older teens, yes.

Endlesssadness Fri 09-Sep-16 08:58:14

Thanks for taking the time to reply everyone, all fears already cos my kids are protective of me anyway!

Few points -

weekendninja - Yeah, kids see and hear, sadly I know both as a victim of parental neglect and abuse and reading etc (not that this is ok but) my eldest says "Mum you married an idiot" etc etc too much to get into here

Foundfreedom - Freedom programme, yeah, done it, utterly useless for me cos I knew the info before I went and all it is are 'here are the ways in which your life is worse than you thought, leave and it'll be better' But how? With zero support from them (never followed up on me), no friends, no family and someone threatening and going out of their way to work against you? I knew about the new law, but thanks for the advice about recording to provide evidence (is it admissable though as I thought you needed permission to record someone legally?)

Yesterday after an evil row (comments like I make up saying I feel suicidal just to make him feel guilty, but when I stupidly get drawn into the cycle and explain why cos what he's done, he looks hurt cos he knows why, then lashes out to deflect any blame again.) I left the house and spent 70+ minutes walking round the street sobbing with tears & snot running down my face talking to a helpline, all they could say was go to a refuge. It's not there, yet. And kept repeating I can phone back if I want, I felt constantly like they wanted me off the phone sad

Someone'srealname - good point. I don't think that's what I'm doing but it's an essential point to make, thanks. He's using it as a 'if you leave and try to have the kids I'll tell' type threat, so it is as a leave problem. I know I have to LTB, I've tried but each time I get a bit stronger he sideswipes me down again. I've gained a bit of strength that I refuse to let go of this time BUT. He wants me out and to leave the kids with him. I know the reason is because in a sentient moment last year he was saying 'he knew the kids would be better with me, but was scared they wouldn't want to see him at all unless he stayed in the house with them cos it's the only way he would see them'. But I am a broken, isolated, traumatised non-person, so I do wonder if they would be best with him cos he has a family, but I obviously know maternal absence fucks kids up immensely. All I wanted was the happy family I never had, I didn't realise it was too much to ask or wasn't available to me sad

Still no idea what to do for the best, like this creates a 'best' scenario. Whatever though, I already knew I would bare bones it, and considered a third party, think now that's going to have to be a definite. Last year my eldest found me at 2am sobbing and I told him then some bad things happened to me before I was born but he was too young to be burdened with details and that I was still ok and the same mum as before he found me like that, so this time I know he needs a bit more. I know I'll somehow have to tell them separately, if tell the youngest at all.

I know something does need to happen. But what? And how? sad

Endlesssadness Fri 09-Sep-16 09:04:34

Johnny - saw yours after typing, of course it's ok! Thanks for your reply, I hope you yourself are doing ok after your assault? flowers I feel it is all hidden as shameful etc like you, and that needs to change. If I didn't have kids, I feel I would be one of the placard carriers haha but my need to protect them (and my husband's control) stops me doing, well, anything. My eldest is fifteen but very mature and we have conversations about news stories so he has good awareness and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he had put the pieces together himself because he is well read and clever.

Thanks again for the viewpoints all xx

KittensDoNotLikeFluffyBlankets Fri 09-Sep-16 11:54:00

I think you are doing so well Endless talking about this at all. You are in an incredibly tricky situation. Sounds like you are gradually processing it and extricating yourself, bit by bit, taking care to work out and do the right thing for yourself and others along the way. That makes you a very good person.

You mention wondering whether it would be best to leave your children with their dad as he has a family etc to support them. You also mention that your dc see how your husband treats you and comment on it. Maybe telling you this might help.

When I was little, my dad hit my mum so hard he broke one of her teeth (it wasn't the first time he had hit her). She picked me up out of my bed in the middle of the night and ran out of the house with me.

In all the years that we went through financial and social hardships together, all the times it was a struggle, I loved my mum so, so fiercely for protecting me and loving me enough to take me with her.

It told me how much she loved me that her first thought when she was assaulted like that was about me. She loved me so much she stopped to get me and then she got me and herself out of that situation.

So your children already see your husband for who he is, and they will feel such an emotional love and strength from going with you, that will give them a kind of strength that is very valuable in life.

I'm not trying to tell you to leave quickly or anything like that. But I see how much you love your children in the way you are trying to work out what is best for them and I wanted to let you know (although I think you already know) that they are telling you that they know this is a bad place for you and them to be too. And that the best thing for them is to be with someone who loves them enough to think about that, not with someone like your husband who is prepared to break another person to selfishly hold onto them.

The best thing for your children is for you to do what is best for you and take them with you whilst you do that. You're not a selfish person, your husband is. They are better with you.

RedMapleLeaf Fri 09-Sep-16 12:00:10

I'm not clear, what are your reasons for telling your children that you were sexually abused and raped?

ClawsForThought Fri 09-Sep-16 15:03:36

flowers for you OP

I was devastated when I found out about my mum's rapes and now that she's old and ill I just want to protect her and hunt down that bastard and shoot him in the knackers.

However, the way she told me came out all wrong, not that there's a right way IYSWIM. I was a depressed, mixed up teen arguing with her a lot wondering what I had to live for. Recounting all the shit in my life at the time and how hard done by I was. You know what's coming next. Something along the lines of, yes, x and y may have happened to you, but at least you weren't raped.

Stunned. Lots of tears and hugging. I'm still trying to process it. And I hurt for her as she kept this to herself for so long and has never sought counselling. But the guilty mixed up adult in me wonders why she told me then as I was going through some heavy stuff myself. shock

Holding your hand, OP. There's no right way to tell your children something like this.

FuzzyDiamond Fri 09-Sep-16 16:45:40

I'm so sorry you have experienced so much trauma, I hope you get free of your husband he sounds like a total dickhead.

My mum was abused by a family member and when she told me it felt like a huge weight on my shoulders. That sounds awful but it's the truth. I have been sexually assaulted more than once but I will never tell my Dc.

I definitely think you need someone to talk to about what's happening to you but I don't think your children need to know while they are so young.

SomeonesRealName Fri 09-Sep-16 18:26:48

Kittens what a lovely post. Well said!

debbs77 Fri 09-Sep-16 18:58:42

Can you leave one day after school? Literally pick them up from school and head in the other direction.

Please get you all out of this situation xxx

Endlesssadness Fri 09-Sep-16 23:57:37

Kittens, just thanks <3 It feels too difficult to respond to all the points in your post, but I appreciate every insightful, thought out word and hope you & your mum are doing well now smile

Claws - Agreed, that's totally not a right way, there isn't one, but there are definitely wrong ways! I hope you're both doing ok smile

Fuzzy - truth is always best, thank you. A girl I knew in school knew she was only here cos her mum was raped, and my mum told me some things I should never have heard at 8, so I understand the burden element. I hope you're ok smile

To all, I'm defo not going to tell them now. I didn't know if I was, I needed insight to prepare myself what to say if I did, but for now I have too much going on to deal with that too. Plus it kind of feels the moment has passed. If my husband does follow through his threats then I will cross the bridge when I come to it.

Thanks xx

whywonthedgehogssharethehedge Sat 10-Sep-16 00:17:09

You have to trust in yourself and the job you have done to raise your kids. They already know he is an idiot, they told you so. Trust that they are on your side and their place is with you.

If he tells them you were raped then tries to make out that it's your fault? Trust them enough to know that they won't believe that.

You know you need to make plans to go. Please take your kids with you. Get out ASAP. If he tells them in the process deal with it at that point. Right now is not the time to tell them unless your hand is forced. If your husband forces it then use it as another reason to go. Don't teach your kids that they should put up with this shit. Teach them that women can be strong even when they are scared.

Endlesssadness Sat 10-Sep-16 00:25:15

whywont - Thanks xx (and I LOVE your username! star )

Wallywobbles Sat 10-Sep-16 05:40:45

The threat of secrets told can be so damaging.

My ex 8 years post divorce is still threatening to tell the kids things. In my case the kids know absolutely everything that he wants to use against me.

For example he told them when they were still toddlers that I have herpes. So they've always known but he'd forgotten telling them. So he threatened to tell DP who knows and has herpes himself!

By not keeping secrets he has little power, but baring your soul is uncomfortable. My lawyer as a result of this knows every dirty dark secret I have.

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