To think they should go no contact? Trigger Warning - abuse related(9 Posts)
I'm going to try to be brief but I could use some opinions on this:
My sister was sexually abused by a family member when she was young. Our family are very religious, which is relevant. She has disclosed the abuse as an adult to our family, she doesn't want police involvement because she can't face it and feels her recollection as a child is too hazy with big gaps, which is her choice. She's had a really hard few years coming to terms with it, getting counselling, and basically done all she can to get well. She's in her thirties now, married, kids etc.
I have supported her wholeheartedly, as have a couple of other family members. Our parents have however not been supportive. They found out a few years ago but continued to see him and his wife who are elderly. The wife has since passed, but despite indicating when she died they'd cease contact, they continue to see him. They know him to be a violent and nasty person, he has mistreated them all their lives and every other person in his path, he verbally and physically abused his wife until she died (which was their reason for seeing them whilst she was alive, for her sake type thing).
They still feel that they have a "duty of care" to him in his old age despite not doubting my sister, (or so they say). This is where the religious bit comes in. They hide behind it in my view and use it as a shield. They won't go NC and now I feel that I don't want to see them anymore and my sister feels the same. How can we reconcile them seeing him and carrying out their so-called duty knowing he abused their daughter?
WIBU to cut contact with them on the basis that they have not and will not stand up for my sister and think she and I should basically let it go and play happy families? I'm very close to my sister and have looked after her more than my parents ever have throughout our lives and I feel so strongly that this situation is wrong.
Yes it is very wrong
You would be entirely justified in cutting contact with your parents
If they prefer to look after the needs of an abuser rather than their own offspring there is no religious justification I can see for that and they deserve nothing less than to be cast into the wilderness (as it were) with the abuser himself
That's where I'm at AF, it's a very hard thing to do even though they have been rubbish parents much of the time. I just can't see a way back if they keep seeing him. They tell my sister she comes first, but clearly she does not.
The simple answer that many people would agree with, is yes to cut them off. They have chosen where their loyalties lie & that has consequences. And I'm not saying that is wrong.
However I'm wondering whether there is more to it that you don't know about? Its possible that your parents could be stone cold religious types that would ignore abuse of their daughter, but it seems a bit odd to me. Could there be circumstances or history influencing their decision that are unknown to you? It could be anything, from blackmail re a past indiscretion to a promise to the dead wife to look after him, could be anything really. I'd imagine that they are torn in two rather than calmly accepting that the abuser has priority over their daughter.
The choice for them is not daughter or abuser, it is daughter or religion. And when you are brought up in a religion I'd imagine its fairly hard to step outside of that & look at a situation objectively, let alone to disagree & take action.
As long as you understand that no contact has to mean exactly that. You may be better to consider low contact in the first instance. No contact is a serious and huge step and it is no get out of jail free card. Your feelings won't disappear, your family will still exist and your nc choice may mean you lose everyone. Have you thought about some sort of therapy either on your own or as a family to see if there's anything that can be tried? I've been nc with my mother for about 9 years now and I can assure you it is not the cure all you may think it is. I have no family now. Yes I'm not suffering any new ea but the rest of it is still there, I'm just on my own with it now. I'm free but it's bloody lonely.
I think there are a few different things here. Firstly there is the revelation of abuse and the fact that, following on from that, your sister needs and deserves support, ideally from her parents as well as you/others. You say that your parents have not been supportive, but give no examples of that except for the fact that they have continued to be in contact with her abuser.
I am assuming from the way you've told this that the abuser is a grandparent - forgive me if I'm wrong - and so that means, secondly, that one of your parents is being asked to go NC with their father. Going NC with a parent is complex and fraught with both practical and emotional difficulties. It is not for the fainthearted and can cause as many problems as it fixes. (I speak from experience.)
The thing is, as I see it, that going NC won't of itself fix anything for your sister. Yes, it would be visible evidence of their support, but means nothing in itself if your parents aren't actually supporting her emotionally in ways that would help her. Equally, if they are being supportive of her in lots of other ways, remaining in contact with the abuser, since it's something that is clearly important to them, could be made to work if handled sensitively.
I think it would be helpful to try and separate out their obligations to your sister from their obligation, as they see it, to the abuser. If their continued contact with him is emblematic of a general lack of support for her (questioning the truth of what she has disclosed, for example), then I think the contact is the least of it and it sounds healthy in that situation to cut contact with them. If, on the other hand, it has assumed symbolic 'dealbreaker' status and is a stumbling block to her feeling supported even though they are doing all the right things otherwise, then I think you need to try and set it aside, and appreciate that this is a complex, sensitive, difficult situation for them too.
What is definitely not OK is for them to expect her to maintain contact with the abuser, as if nothing had happened. If they intend to stay in contact with him themselves, they need to compartmentalise that from their relationship with her and, if it's what you also want, from you. Could they do that? How openly can you talk with them, and do discussions go constructively or do they close you down?
I appreciate how difficult this all is, and I'm absolutely not trying to privilege your parents' feelings at the expense of your sister's. I just think there may be better solutions to this in the long term than an us-or-him ultimatum.
Thanks all. To be blunt yes they are the stone cold religious type. Conversations go along the lines of 'Jesus forgave Judas', before God we have a duty etc. I'm quite certain there is no blackmail, though suspect DM may be worried about losing her inheritance and her sister getting everything. Yes, its a grandparent. They haven't supported my sister at all, initially they shut down, DF in particular, but over the last few years they have pressured us to carry on seeing GM (now deceased) which after a time we both stopped as GF wouldn't let GM out of his sight and the visits would happen at my parents. My mother is a master manipulator as was GM and its made things hard. They have at times tried to insinuate Dsis is making it up. They are generally uninvolved and unsupportive and truth be known I could not see them again and not really mind.
It sounds like you've made your mind up really, and given what you say in your update, who could blame you. Again, I almost think the 'fact' of their having maintained contact with him is the least of it. It sounds as though GF has created a toxic empire and until someone draws a line it will never end, even after he dies probably. I wonder if your DM has invested heavily in suppressing memories of abuse herself, and facing up to what happened to your sister is threatenening to make the sky fall down on that. What a mess. You poor things.
You may find this recent thread interesting. It concerns itself with slightly different aspects of estrangement than the decision of whether or not to go NC, but there are a lot of personal stories that people have shared about manipulative and toxic families, which may make you feel less isolated and clearer about whether or not going NC is the right choice for you.
Thanks lupo I'll have a read.
I agree that going NC isn't a cure-all thing and I struggle with the idea enormously, I think its more than dsis and I have gone to low contact i.e. Once a month or less, but even that is atmospheric and I want to leave as soon as I've arrived as I can sense the atmosphere. The crunch came recently when then rung me to tell me I was not making the effort with them (they rarely make any effort which given I've a young family and they are retired, expecting me to do all the visiting is very tough!) and berated me for basically not being a good daughter. They know why this is but said they have a christian duty to GF. So they sort of expect me to suck it up and carry on as normal with them because that is what they do with him.
The 'toxic empire' point is spot on, that is exactly it, GF literally has no redeeming qualities. He is nasty, bitter, cruel and vicious. The whole family knows it and doesn't deny it but my parents still carry on seeing him and do what needs doing. I can't understand it. If he was nice, kind etc then I'd understand it but he literally is the sort of man who turns your stomach and he abused their child. I cannot get my head around it.
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