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Would you ever ask someone if they had been abused as a child?

(13 Posts)
notsoloud Sat 06-Oct-12 20:35:33

I have been thinking about someone (an adult) close to me following all the recent news stories of child abuse and it worries me that it may have been a possibility.

This person is married and outwardly seems generally fine right now but from their late teens to about 5 years ago went through a horrible period of depression, self harm, alcohol and drug excess as well as sexual promiscuity that given every other aspect of their life had no real reason for it.

At the school this person went to, a teacher who would've been in close contact with them on several school trips (with overnight stays away from home) was taken to court over several counts of inappropriate sexual behaviour although he was not found guilty due to lack of evidence (a retrial was considered in some of the cases but it looks like it never happened). The case was after the person I know had left the school.

I don't know if anything ever happened or not or if it's just a coincidence. The person I know has never mentioned or suggested anything about it but I would hate for this person to not have any support or have another dark period as they did before. Given all seems fine at present, is it better to leave my thoughts unspoken (which I have until now as I really didn't want to think it could've happened) and just be there for them if they need it? Or would you ever say anything in other circumstances?

BinksToEnlightenment Sat 06-Oct-12 21:06:28

No. I wouldn't ask them. I wouldn't want to be asked this myself. If I was close enough to someone, and ready to talk, I'd speak without prompting.

But you are very kind to think of this.

susiedaisy Sat 06-Oct-12 21:08:33

No I wouldn't ask them.

MrsRhettButler Sat 06-Oct-12 21:12:18

No way!

colditz Sat 06-Oct-12 21:13:43

No, I am totally unequipped to support this sort of disclosure and if it was made to me I would have to find them a councillor and back off.

LadyPlainJane Sat 06-Oct-12 21:16:49

No, I wouldn't ask.

amillionyears Sat 06-Oct-12 21:38:15

I have struggled with this question myself for many years.
Dont want to give details,and tbh,my case is less likely to have happened than yours.
But.....
Horrid isnt it?

notsoloud Sat 06-Oct-12 22:44:16

Thanks for the replies. They confirmed what I thought and I will not say anything as I would never want to hurt this person or change our relationship as it is. But as you wrote amillionyears it's a horrible thought to have hanging over you and I can't really get away from it.

amillionyears Sat 06-Oct-12 22:52:21

Is the thought burdening you?
For some reason it does not burden me.
I think I had sort of decided not to say anything,as I have very little evidence. Too liittle to say anything,but too much to be able to forget all about it completely.
I wouldnt hurt the person particularly or the relationship.But if I am wrong,it could greatly hurt a large number of other people.

RobynRidingHood Sat 06-Oct-12 22:57:49

No, it's none of your business, you are not their chosen confidante'

notsoloud Sat 06-Oct-12 23:19:40

I think it's troubling me right now because I have been thinking about it a lot in the past few days probably triggered by what's been in the news. But like I wrote I can't be certain whether anything happened or not and I hope I'm wrong about it. I hadn't thought about it since I saw the news story of the teacher's trial a few years back and it upset me then.

I find it a bit insensitive to say it's none of my business as this is someone close to me and I care a lot about their well-being. But sometimes the closer people in your life aren't the easiest to confide in especially over something as personal as what may have happened. So if it did I can only hope they had another confidante to go to (especially since now they are what appears to be a better point in their lives).

IllageVidiot Sun 07-Oct-12 05:03:53

I do see your point but - it's none of your business, you are not their chosen confidante.

The problem is this is bothering you - they seem in a better place and getting there can be hard. You could get lucky and find they are able to answer you and talk about it or you could find it massively triggers them and sends them into a spiral of trauma, particularly if it has not been dealt with but plastered over. I don't think that is fair to do to someone you care about. And if you find it insensitive to be told it's none of yours, how do you think that feeling would transfer to your friend? 'By the way can you (possibly) dredge up some intensely personal, private and hurtful information to assuage my curiosity? It's been bothering me you see and I feel bad it may have happened to you'. Not as bad as they would feel about it happening to them.

I am in a good place in my life and can talk about what happened to me because I have dealt with things. But that doesn't mean I don't still get bad days. If I was feeling wobbly or someone came right out and caught me on the hop it would bother me. Essentially I had all control taken away from me at that time and it is a private and personal thing, discussing it and opening up that information must be my choice to make, to be pried open like that by someone that I felt I could trust to an extent would leave me feeling very violated and I would not confide anything to that person as all my trust would have evaporated.

Would you be so open to asking about anything else so very private? 'So what was the deal with that abortion you had?' or 'tell me all about your partners penis I'm bothered you've seemed down about your sex life'.
I know I've written these in a very extremely glib and uncaring way but it really can feel that stark however the asker goes about it, it can sound like 'give me all the juicy details about when you were molested/raped/sodomised and had the worst experience(s) of your life so I can be horrified' - it often feels like people want to be involved in the drama, get a bit of pity in and revel in the whole emotion of it all. It's not kind.

The best thing you can do is become trustworthy (as I'm sure you are), keep the communication lines open and listen. Be there and be benign, if you notice any worrying signs then start with no assumptions and just engage with offers of talking or help and no judgement. After all, what are you planning to do once you know? If you are told then the ball is still far from in your court and it is not a given that you will be allowed any access or option to help. Once you know that could very well be the reason you are cut out, it's too painful.
You could miss giving relevant and necessary help because you are looking for something that isn't there.

Accept this is your problem and work to move on from it yourself. I wonder if the responses from some posters are a bit stark because you have come across a bit gaspy and keen to get a foot in the door, to be involved. I am very sure this isn't the case as the written word can be a tricky thing. If there is an appropriate time it will become apparent - but definitely a case where not trying to help is the best help there is for now. Empathy is a wonderful attribute but there are complicated feelings that come with these experiences - often an over emotional or empathic response actually takes those feelings away from the survivor and they feel a responsibility to take on your feelings and it can be more harmful than helpful.
I obviously hope this isn't true and it was all coincidental and they continue to progress with their recovery and stay in a good place.

notsoloud Sun 07-Oct-12 07:10:44

Thank you for such a thoughtful reply. As I wrote above, I am not going to ask any questions and I am going to continue as we are - hopefully being there if this person needs me.

I accept the way I came across from my above posts even though it's not how I intended to come across. I am totally aware that this is an issue I am dealing with myself. I don't want to know any information to gain closure. I only want what's in the other person's best interests.

I posted on here for advice to make sure I didn't do the wrong thing as it's not really something I can talk with anyone in RL about and it's hard to know if you're doing the right thing with someone important in your life. As direct as the answers were, they were what I was looking for. So thank you again for your replies.

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