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Does this sound like grooming? Please help- step uncle

(572 Posts)
Lam23 Mon 04-Mar-19 14:27:06

Posting for traffic/I’m not sure where else this belongs..
Background if it helps: I’m a mum of a nearly 4 year old. She is very bright, happy, outgoing, completely normal development wise and attends nursery full time. I met dh when she was 2 and they have a great relationship, which has grown over time, i can honestly say I really trust him and she has started to call him daddy which feels natural for us all. Her dad has never been in the picture and we have no contact with him.
I have recently begun to have real worries about her relationship with my dh’s brother. He is 31, unmarried, no kids. Generally quite an immature guy (loves gaming, works minimum wage job and lives in a flat share) but seems pleasant enough since I’ve known him. However, since he met dd at a family gathering probably a year ago, alarm bells are ringing for me more and more and I don’t know if it’s instinct or paranoia. Every time he sees her he picks her ups lot, tickles her, cuddles her, he addresses her as “friend” (seems odd for a 3 year old), he always buys her extravagant presents whenever we see him. She is a trusting kid and I’m beginning to think, too trusting- because of all the positive attention he gives her (and maybe because she lacked a “dad figure” the first couple years of her life?) she absolutely loves him, talks about him loads, nowadays whenever he is there at a family gathering she just wants to go to him and has a tantrum if I say no or keep her next to me. It seems really excessive that she is so into him and that he had instigated this type of relationship with her- dh’s sister, who has kids, has what I would consider a more normal relationship with my dd and is lovely to her but definitely doesn’t push the boundaries. He has now offered to babysit a few times and I refuse point blank each time which I think dh is a little upset by (dh idolises his brother and I can’t talk to him about ANY of this). It happened again yesterday with lots of cuddling, sitting on his knee. My own brothers don’t do this with my dd and I feel like I can’t put a stop to it, but she is so trusting and I don’t know how to protect her. Whenever she needs a male figure she seems to get overly attached anyway, but for me this is going too far. She doesn’t want to be near me or dh when his brother is around, the amount of presents makes me uncomfortable and I feel like the physical stuff in public is a possible first step of grooming. Can anyone please help me understand what to do, it’s a really sensitive situation. Does this sound odd? I would appreciate anyone who knows about signs of grooming etc to weigh in. Do I sound crazy?
Fwiw my mum and sister are both teachers and having witnessed the interactions said that their own instincts were kicking in too and that the developing relationship wasn’t necessarily appropriate/he seemed a little over interested in kids.
Please help, this is stressing me out so much whenever we are around family.

LucyStopItNowUK Tue 06-Aug-19 14:21:46

I work for a helpline that supports people who have concerns about child sexual abuse - and what you say about this man’s behaviour does raise some definite concerns, so I understand you feel uncomfortable. While it’s nice that family members of the person you’re seeing are reaching out to you, what you’re describing might not be a healthy dynamic.

As I read your comments, there were a few things that struck a chord for me. You talked about how this man does a lot of tickling and cuddling, as well as encouraging your daughter to sit on his knee and see him as a friend. While generally, these actions could be seen as nice and normal, it is also how someone who wants to abuse a child will seek to gain trust, making the child feel that being touched is perfectly normal. The same goes for the gifts; they help establish trust and make the person seem loving and caring. It’s possible that he is, but what you also mention is that he seems to be a loner – and that there’s an unhealthy dynamic within the family.

As your child has clearly bonded with this man, trying to stop her from having contact with him will possibly create difficulties between you and her. I would, therefore, suggest you work on keeping your relationship strong and open, so she does not think about keeping secrets from you as she gets older. You can keep your child safe by putting measures in place such as not allowing unsupervised contact. Also, teaching young children basic good touch vs bad touch concepts will help them know to tell their parents if someone makes them feel uncomfortable in any way.

Lastly, you could perhaps speak to your partner’s brother directly about not giving your daughter so many presents. Maybe he has no idea how this makes you feel and would be happy to stop this. It is possible that this man is just being friendly to your daughter as he sees her as his brother’s child. However, you do seem to have a lot of reasons to be guarded and I would listen to those instincts.

justilou1 Wed 13-Mar-19 08:46:09

Block her anyway!

mathanxiety Wed 13-Mar-19 03:25:03

The flowers and chores and 'what's wrong?' - it's called hoovering. It's an appropriate phrase because he is treating you like dirt.

He already suspects you are leaving him. Or at the very least, he understands that things are not going his way at all, and can see that you have not done your usual thing of re-engaging with him by trying to solve the problem in a collaborative way with a view to continuing the relationship.

However, please don't say anything until you are physically separated and can literally close a door to keep him out.

You can expect all kinds of responses from him when you tell him you have left.
He will try to guilt you back and will use DD in this, love bomb, threaten to report you as an unfit mother, there will be flowers and tears and promises, and he will rope in his family. Be prepared to block his mother on your phone.

Desperateforspring Tue 12-Mar-19 20:31:21


Excellent post so insightful of the golden child situation and who has created this dynamic.

Fizzy green Water, always excellent insightful post s

I honestly think dirty John on Netflix should be compulsory viewing

AtrociousCircumstance Tue 12-Mar-19 18:24:01

How are you OP?

Waterfallgirl Mon 11-Mar-19 16:21:39

@LetheBiscuit. You maybe right but RTFT as things have moved on a lot.

@Lam like others I’ve been dropping in and out, @Fizzy has it right above ( and not for the first time on this thread)

You can do it, with your DM DSIS and us as your support team.

LetheBiscuit Mon 11-Mar-19 15:53:51

If your instincts say don't trust him, and family members back it up, then you may be right.

Though it's entirely possible he just wants to dote on a child in his life. I am very invested in my friends' baby (though I am a woman) because I don't yet have children of my own, and I love them and by extension their kid. I would want to babysit and buy gifts. It doesn't have to be sinister.

bibliomania Mon 11-Mar-19 15:37:52

It's normal to grieve. You're letting go of a bright shiny dream of a happy family. Feel sad for a bit - it's a way of paying tribute to the life you thought you were going to lead.

What's not okay is when we try to persuade ourselves that we're living the dream, and we ignore the huge gap between it and the life we're actually leading.

AtrociousCircumstance Mon 11-Mar-19 15:14:13

Strength to you. Well done on this huge realisation. Claim your power and your right to protect yourself and your child, and make your own decisions.

He will try to manipulate you and twist everything. You will feel every ugly attempt but you will rise above. And then - you’ll be free and your DD will no longer be in danger.

Stay strong star

colouringinpro Mon 11-Mar-19 13:41:33

Lam you're making the right decision for you and your dd. Little steps flowers

Iooselipssinkships Mon 11-Mar-19 13:23:05

Lam, just keep thinking of the blanket over his head and preventing you from making your dd's bed.

AspasiaLunata Mon 11-Mar-19 13:20:24


Heads up

All I feel is guilt for robbing dd of a daddy/extended family
Nope. You are saving DD from living in a dysfunctional family, seeing her mum manipulated and controlled and potentially much worse from Creepy Uncle. It is your duty as a mother to do this.

And guilt for ruining dh’s dreams
Again, nope. He alone is responsible for his actions. He could be a better partner but he chooses not to (or cannot be). Neither of these things are your responsibility. And what about your dreams? How much does he care about those?

But I know that you guys are right and this isn’t my fault and I need to remember the end game. I can’t possibly be sadder than I am now
It's hard. This isn't what you hoped for the relationship and your future. But you must make the break, for DD if no-one else otherwise things will get much worse

When you look back on this you will know that you have done the right thing

Lam23 Mon 11-Mar-19 12:33:29

I will be rereading this thread a few times this week I know.

Lam23 Mon 11-Mar-19 12:32:22

I don’t feel I can do anything like go away for a week or stay with my family because he will only amp up what he is doing. He keeps asking me what is wrong. Thing is, my natural instinct is to explain and try and find a solution. So many times I have tried to be optimistic, talk through what has bothered me and try and find a new way of us dealing with stuff, but it literally never works or at least it never lasts. I’m unhappy and I know that this is not my fault but I feel like unless I literally break it off cleanly, he will not let me. I’m kind of trapped. I also feel like I’ve known stuff was wrong for a long time before I made this thread and now I have spent so much time thinking about it I will never be able to go back to how I was (which was trying to be optimistic/save our marriage). But equally i am so sad because I loved him so much and I really believed in our future and our life, probably way too much. And he will be devastated and I might feel that I have made a huge mistake and he has always seemed so sincere when he’s said he will try and deal with his emotions/reactions better. But saying that, last time it was really bad he promised to do private counselling and he has never actually organised it. Because it was just words. Ugh.
I feel like I am grieving for it now and after having gone for my pre arranged weekend away with dd and my mum this week, I may come out stronger to act.
Thank you everyone especially fizzy for your last post. It’s overwhelming to have this support and I don’t see myself in this positive light at all really so you don’t know what it means. All I feel is guilt for robbing dd of a daddy/extended family. And guilt for ruining dh’s dreams. But I know that you guys are right and this isn’t my fault and I need to remember the end game. I can’t possibly be sadder than I am now.

justilou1 Mon 11-Mar-19 12:09:15

Fizzy has hit the nail on the head! You will feel like you have been released from jail!

YogaWannabe Mon 11-Mar-19 12:00:46

@FizzyGreenWater your posts on this thread have been absolutely spot on.

bibliomania Mon 11-Mar-19 11:19:28

Great post by Fizzy. Ime, I've enjoyed parenting much more as a single parent than as someone with a bad partner. My emotional resources are not being drained, so I I have more to offer dd. Honestly, it's lovely!

0ccamsRazor Mon 11-Mar-19 10:51:51

Oh Lam, i am sending you hugs and strength, please do not feel guilty.

It sounds as though you are seeing things for what they are now. The scales have fallen from your eyes as they say.

Your family sound really supportive, maybe it is time to stay with them so that you are emotionally supported and more importantly safe whilst you decide your next steps.


FizzyGreenWater Mon 11-Mar-19 10:46:30

Funny thing Lam, this had dropped off my 'I'm on' threads and so I went looking for you - you've been on my mind flowers and here you are - glad you posted again.

Is it terrible to say I'm really, really pleased to hear your update? Maybe that's because to someone on here, who only knows you from the wise, thoughtful posts you've made on this situation, can see that you're very far from the same scared lonely person you clearly, CLEARLY were when your H clearly, CLEARLY homed in on someone he could (at that time) easily manipulate.

Things will NOT be the same - life has moved on a tremendous amount for you. Your DD isn't a tiny baby you've suddenly got to learn how to care for - she's a lovely thriving four year old and you're a confident parent who doesn't need to spend all their time double checking and stressing about every little thing. You have more confidence in your parenting, more time to see the wood for the trees. Totally different.

You also have your job and a way forward, and are financially on an ok path. Another huge weight lifted and great for confidence.

I'm also betting that you have also grown massively as a person and learned huge amounts about what really makes us happy and what REALLY matters in life over the last two years - a great deal of it because you've been in this very odd, looks-ok-but-under-the-surface-it-really-isn't relationship and family situation. Such a valuable lesson that some people really never learn. Will you be lonely after leavign him? Yes, sometimes - probably a lot of the time at first. Will you be miserably lonely? No. You'll find yourself sitting with your family on a Sunday afternoon and suddenly remembering the feeling you had in your stomach seeing your DD be pawed at by his family and you'll feel a rush of relief and security and happiness which will more than make up for any lonely pangs. You'll really REALLY value the honest undemanding proper love of your family and your real friends and you'll know first-hand just how much it's not worth settling and just how creepy and fake his love-bombing when he hardly knew you, was. You'll have a deep peace that you've done the right thing for your DD that will make any lonely or lost feelings pale into insignificance.

Most of all, you will be equipped with experience which will stand you in such good stead in the future when you date again. You're young, you'll almost certainly have a new partner and have more children - but the chances of you being taken for a ride or being pushed into a situation too fast are much, much less than that for someone who's never experienced a relationship like the one you're about to leave.

Good on you Lam, your DD is one lucky little girl. She is going to grow up happy and secure, and you might have some rocky times ahead but by god that slightly rocky for now path is the right one.

Tell your family and lean on them. They'll totally be there for you.

He'll be an absolute shit by the way - keep your DD well away from it, grit your teeth, and head down and out (and remember he has absolutely NO rights to see her at all - and if he even hints at it, gloves off and you tell him in no uncertain terms that if he even dares to try you will be asking the police to look into his borther's history. He'll back off).

christinarossetti19 Mon 11-Mar-19 10:44:43

Lam23 if it's any help at all, you're over the worst in terms of head-fuckery.

You're now in a position to think clearly about what's been going on, and have clarity about how you want your life and relationships to be, and those for your dd.

The thought of being 'alone' again is scary, but you're not in the same head space as two years ago. You also have supportive and wise family who have your back.

You don't have to say anything to your husband at the moment, but start building a mental picture of what your future support network will look like and the things in your life currently that you will be very glad to turn your back on (and it sounds like there are a lot).

Again, none of this is your fault. Groomers and their enablers are able to sniff out vulnerable women and press all the right buttons to suck them in.

It's testament to your emotional wellness that you can now see this for what it is.

All the best of luck. Keep talking and keep posting.

Zooop Mon 11-Mar-19 10:37:38

OP You’re right. It’s hard being right, and honest. But it would be a lot harder in the long term (for you and your dd) if you glossed over all of this. Get those ducks in a row, and know that you are strong, and doing the right thing, and it will all work out OK.

Lam23 Mon 11-Mar-19 10:30:04

Have had a pretty horrible weekend as I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all of this and dh knows something is up but tbh since his angry outburst at end of last week I just have lost the energy to have a conversation with him about anything. He knows somethings up as he keeps doing stuff like buying me flowers/cooking elaborate meals/helping with chores he’s never done before but I honestly feel numb. I’m basically NC with his family now, though as previously mentioned his dm continues to message me.
This has made me think about a lot of stuff I sort of buried but the worst thing being that he has had no qualms in the past about raising voice at me in front of dd, making me cry in front of dd etc. That really hurts me as I feel so guilty and alone it should have made me question him way sooner. I just wanted to believe he didn’t mean to be nasty he says he finds it hard to control his emotions. This is the thing- his whole family suppress all this rage and emotional immaturity under things like alcohol, gifts and appearing the perfect family. I do not want such a life for me or dd and I don’t want kids with dh knowing this.
I think I need to start takin those steps to leave because things don’t change. Im just really scared of being alone again, that scared overwhelmed and lonely single mum I used to be. I wanted dd to have a family and a happy mum but I’ve gone about this the wrong way.
I have counselling this week so will discuss this with my therapist and try to behave normally around dh while I get ducks somewhat in a row.
Just devastated.

mathanxiety Mon 11-Mar-19 02:45:10

Your sister has a good head on her shoulders, fwiw.

mathanxiety Mon 11-Mar-19 02:44:31

If you do leave, be prepared to hear a lot about how they only tried to love and include you and DD, and how damaged/ twisted/ warped [insert nasty adjective here] you must be to reject all of that...

RaspberryBubblegum Sat 09-Mar-19 18:26:09

He is clearly not mature and doesn't really care for your feelings if he's unwilling to actually listen to your worries. He wants a housewife he can control from the sounds of it. Be strong flowers

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