To consider pressing charges (warning - uncomfortable reading)(48 Posts)
NC for this post.
Sorry in advance this is so long there's a lot of background to it.
When I was little my stepdad, on very few occasions, touched me and one time tried to get me to perform oral sex on him - I was about 6 (I didn't). I can probably count on the fingers of one hand how many times this happened over the years. Until I was 16 and my brothers moved out so was just me, him and mum.
From then on, until I moved out age 19 (for the record I'd have done it sooner but was in FT education so couldn't afford to) he basically sexually harassed me. He "tried it on" in a physical sense a few times but I ran out the house when he did this.
A few examples of things he'd do (not a pleasant read I must warn you) were -
- He'd stand with his bedroom door ajar when mum wasn't around and would masturbate when I walked past
- When I was in my room he'd "talk dirty" through the walls
- he'd try to get in my room naked when mum was out (I barricaded the door though and made sure these occasions were few and far between, usually I'd just hear the front door go and hear mums car drive away and would panic)
- he offered me money on a few occasions to sleep with him, and once left a note offering £500 in the bathroom (when he knew did be going in for a shower) with a sex toy next to it
- he'd have his dick hanging out if I walked in a room where he was on his own. Once I was watching TV lying on the sofa and snuck in and touched my face with it
- I had a sky box in my room and he used to sneak in when I was out and turn it to the porn channels so porn would be on when I switched the TV on
- perhaps the worst thing he did once was cover his dick in something (I'm guessing Vaseline but honestly dread to think) and pressed it against my bedroom mirror and wrote a message in it (I can't bring myself to type what we wrote)
It went on for 3 years and I kept quiet, basically because I didn't want mum to know what a scumbag she was married to, he'd had countless affairs before, which she'd forgiven him for, but I knew this would send her over the edge. In hindsight I should have gathered evidence - like kept the note and taken pictures of my mirror - but I panicked and my only thought at the time was "get out the house now". He never attacked me but the fear that he would was very real. I was out the house as much as possible.
Anyway when I was 19 and on the brink of moving out, mum put 2 and 2 together after seeing him grab my bum in the kitchen. She confronted him and he confessed to everything. We had a big talk about it, I told her everything except that he abused me as a child - I just couldn't see her hurt any further. She said she'd leave him, move in with me and forget all about him. I was thrilled, but never did, she stayed with him as she was in a low-ish paid job and couldn't support herself financially.
Fast forward 10 years, I am married and have a 10 month old DD of my own. Looking at my DD I couldn't imagine ever allowing that to happen to her. Me and mum haven't spoken about what happened since she decided she was staying with stepdad. It's like it's never happened, and she has tried to push a father/daughter relationship onto me. For example, at my wedding I wanted her to give me away (real dad passed away) but she insisted in front of a family friend that stepdad do it. When I said no she started crying, so I looked like a dick in front of her friend, long story short I basically got guilted into letting him give me away. It ruined my day completely and linking his arm made me feel sick.
Anyway DH and I decided that he'd never meet DD because he simply cannot be trusted. I don't even want him breathing the same air as her. They live abroad so when she was born mum came over and kept banging on about how DDs "grandad" (my stepdad) couldn't wait to meet her. After much soul searching I wrote her a letter telling her that a) he'd never ever meet Dd and b) I am so very hurt about her taking him back and I want to talk about it.
Initially her response was very understanding and she didn't argue or fall out with me like I expected she would. However I got no answers as to why she took him back exactly (it was an email) and a couple of days later I got a phone call to say she was in hospital, she had a huge panic attack because of my letter. So since then I've treaded very carefully about talking about it, she has had heart problems in the past and I don't want to trigger an attack. However it's a slow process and she's clearly upset that I've banned her husband from seeing my daughter. She sort of changes the subject when I bring it up and has mentioned that they are moving closer to his family in another country (I've told her I'm happy to come to her house with DD as long as he isn't there but I've had no invitation).
Anyway to the point of my post - dragging all this up has made me think a lot about what happened and it's been a difficult few months for me, there has been lots of tears and anger. Stepdad is seen as a Demi-god by most people we know, I'm constantly told by other family that after my own dad ran out on us when I was a child that I am "so lucky" that stepdad "took us on " and I surely consider him my real dad? I can't bear the lies anymore and I can't pretend everything is ok. I really want closure on the situation and I don't think I'll get it from my mum. DH thinks I should go to the police and press charges.
So my question is, after so long, and so few actual instances of physical assault, and no evidence other than emails/letters to and from me and mum, AIBU to think about pressing charges? Would it be worth it? Would anything happen? Would it cause more upset than good? He has a son, my stepbrother, who I am very close with, and I wouldn't want to lose him as a result of turning his dad in to the police. Stepbrother has a DD too (who stepdad has met once as a newborn) and I feel I owe it to her too to protect her. Please be brutally honest and tell me if it's not worth it!
Forgot to say only other bit of evidence I'd have is from my best friend. I told her about the harassment as she confessed that, during a brief spell where she worked for him, he harrassed her in similar ways to. She says she'd be very supportive of me if i pressed charges and would give evidence
I have no idea whether you will get anywhere by pressing charges but my instinct is to say you have to try. What you describe is awful and it doesn't seem right it should be swept under the carpet.
I'm so sorry you had to go through this. I had an abusive SF too - nowhere near this level thank God but I sympathise with how it confuses your feelings towards your DM and colours the rest of your life.
Very best of luck with whatever you decide to do.
Honestly? You need to call the police and let them know. It's very worth it.
To be honest, if he lives abroad I am not sure what the chances are of him being brought back here to face charges, particularly since any evidence would be flimsy to say the least.
I think in your position I would try to continue to see my Mum but refuse to discuss him at all. Ever. I think that trying to press charges would be hugely stressful and difficult for you.
I am so sorry you grew up not feeling safe in your own home. The betrayal of your mum staying with him also has my heart breaking for you. Sadly it's more common than you'd think and while it's easy to judge her god knows what demons she's fighting hence the panic attacks. I fear her denial will make her ill but it's not your duty to protect her from your abuse.
I can guarantee this predator would behave this way towards other vulnerable people. I plead with you to report him so that he goes on the sex register at least. I think that's what you want to do but are scared. I hope someone can come along with the practicalities of this step. Have you had counselling for this abuse?
I think if you go to the police, you are very brave and I hope you decide to as he deserves to be punished and be removed as a threat to any other young girls. I can totally understand why you are reluctant though. Are you prepared to potentially lose your mum and step-brother and maybe some other friends and family? If you believe it's worth it then yes, I would go to the police. Good luck and I'm so sorry this happened to you.
So sorry you had to go through all this. You are doing the right thing for your DD.
I think you need to tell your step-brother and his partner so that they can protect their DD too.
I just wanted to say I'm so sorry about what has happened to you. No one, especially a child should have to go through this. You had no one to turn to when you were younger and your mum should feel guilty as hell.
I know you are trying to maintain a relationship with her but I worry for your daughter and I don't think you are losing anything by alienating her. I'm afraid it's very likely he has abused others.
I think you should report him, let the police worry about evidence. There are more lives at stake and even if it comes to nothing, he sure as he'll will know he can't get away with anymore.
Firstly hugs and support to you.
Would you consider sitting step brother down and telling him face to face so he would know what was coming and why you were going to the police. I can't help but feel it's no coincidence he has only allowed access to his own DD once.
I think you will find more people coming out of the woodwork with similar stories, like your friend. Definitely go to the police, your mother made her choice. Time to take back control.
Oh Christ. Just awful.
I would suggest that you make the allegation. At least you would feel that you are taking some form of control if the (dreadful) situation.
Like previous posters have said, not sure how easy it would be for cps to prosecute if he's abroad.
Do it anyway. Big hugs to you.
You can contact the police and ask them for advice, I have found them to be very helpful in my situation (which is not the same as yours, but involved an event from the past of a sexual nature). They said they would support me if I decided to press charges and it didn't matter how much time had passed.
They also put me in touch with a civilian support place where they help people come to decisions about such matters (but I needed to have that referral from the police to contact them) They talked through everything with me so I was able to reach my decision.
You were abused and had no choice in what happened to you, now you do have a choice in how you react and that is empowering.
As well as your concern for other children this disgusting man may come into contact with, you need to act in your own best interests to help you get some kind of closure to these awful events, at least explore your options - whatever you decide to do you won't have to make final decisions on the spot - you will be given help and advice every step of the way. It sounds as if you have a good partner to support you through this.
I'm so sorry this has happened to you
I am sure a police complaint is the essential first step. From what I hear abusers make a habit of it and you may not be the only one.
I had an uncle who one of my friends said had touched him as a child. It was not taken seriously until someone else said, oh yes, he tried it with me, but I said no and he stopped.
Somebody should have made a complaint.
I have no idea what the chances of him being prosecuted for his offences against you would be, but at the very least if you go to the police, he's name would be on file. It seems very likely he would have abused others, so there may well be more evidence than yours alone.
It would also give a clear message to him and your mother that you will not be guilted or persuaded to allow him to have any contact with your dd, which may be something they try to grind you down on.
Its a terrible thing to have gone through and its a horrible decision to have to make now, I feel for you.
Did these offences happen in the UK or overseas, and where, if overseas, was it?
Where are they now?
Please do report it. I agree that it may be difficult to bring charges against him, but if he abused you, and harassed your best friend, who else has he done this too?
And please, please tell your stepbrother. Please protect your niece.
Op I hope you are ok- bringing all this up must feel very raw and the lengths your own mum has went to trying to make you feel as though it wasn't as big a deal as it was must feel even harder when you have strangers (myself included) telling you to go to the police.
While I feel you should go to the police don't for one second take on board any of the guilt for this disgusting mans actions. He may have abused others but that is his responsibility, his actions, not whether you reported him or not. I hope you understand what I'm trying to say although I'm sure someone else would be able to say it more eloquently.
I think you should alert the police, so at least he can be on their radar, but is there a statute of limitations on what happened to you?
Talk with rape crisis first, they can help you in the best way to make reporting easier.
Good luck in what you decide.
Do it for you, primarily.
If he's brought to book for abusing other people, if others come forward, and if he's prevented from doing it to anyone in the future, that's brilliant, but these other aspects are not in your control.
Pre-warn your StDB that it's coming. You're not letting DD anywhere near him anyway, so she's ok.
This all rings so many bells.
I'm so sorry that this happened to you and that your mum has decided to stay with this man. Like others have said, the chances are that he has done this to other young girls. What if your step-brothers have daughters??? Now, it's not your job to keep them safe, however by sharing your story you may help to prevent someone else from coming to harm as well as get some justice for the way you were treated.
The different country thing is a bit of a complication and I'm not sure how you would go about dealing with this. Can I suggest talking to someone like the NSPCC if you don't want to go to the police? I'm sure they can talk you through your different options.
First, don't minimise these awful, awful experiences. It might have been 'a few' times, but you lived in fear for years. And once is too often.
Your mum is upset because her daughter won't expose her baby to a child abuser ?? I am astounded. I'm so angry about this, OP. Where is her loyalty to you?
You are playing the role of protecting - your mum, the abusive SD, your own child - but who protects you?
The trouble is, it sounds as though your mum won't ever understand why you can't just, er, put sexual abuse behind you. Her reactions are likely to invoke guilt in you, I'd wager.
Speak to one of the organisations mentioned. Another is HAVOCA (can't link but do Google it; it's for survivors of abuse).
I feel for you. It's dreadful you are left with this fallout. You must do what makes you feel comfortable. You are the one living this.
You lived with this for THIRTEEN years. This is really awful, OP. I just want you to realise that his actions and the threat of more, are a big deal. These are not 'only' anything. The man is beyond disgusting.
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