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DH's family - accusations of sexual abuse, and all round strange behaviour

(21 Posts)
ConfusedBeyondBelief Tue 25-Feb-14 20:00:05

I need outside perspective on this family dividing issue. This will be long but I'll try to be as concise as possible.

In the early days of our relationship. my DH told me about his sister's allegation of sexual abuse against her stepfather. SIL is 21, and made the allegation when she was 16, and said that her stepfather had abused her from the age of 12-15. However, DH was under the impression that the allegation had been false, and swept under the carpet. MIL is still with her DP, and from very early on I got the impression that MIL does not really like MIL, and I know her grandparents dislike SIL.

In the time before I got pregnant, SIL began talking to her stepdad again, and staying around his flat with MIL. When I was pregnant with DS1, the idea that the allegation was being ignored started to bother me even more than it already did, because MIL seemed to be anticipating looking after DS1 with her DP, and that was not going to happen until either MIL left her DP, or SIL admitted lying. Now, SIL and I did and still do not really get on, so it took a long time for me to ask her about it. She said she had been telling the truth.

After having DS1, the idea of having the stepfather anywhere near me or DS made my skin crawl and the idea that MIL had not only not believed her daughter but stayed with her DP made me feel sick and worried about her judgment. I discussed this with DH and the decision was made to present MIL with the choice of leaving DP or me cutting contact with her. An almighty row ensued, and I cut contact. DH slowly cut contact as well, something that I made sure not to encourage, as it had to be his own decision. He has not spoken to her since the end of 2012.

So far, so horrible. But now SIL comes around occasionally with tales of how her stepfather has bought her expensive things, and how DH's grandparents now want nothing to do with him. I would hate to disbelieve her, but I don't understand how SIL can stand to be in the same room as him, let alone share food from his plate and sit on his lap, as I witnessed before everything kicked off. Furthermore, I cannot believe that the stepfather allows SIL in his house since she has not retracted her allegation.

I don't know what I'm asking here. This situation is entirely fucked up.

Whocansay Tue 25-Feb-14 20:08:56

I'd stay away from the whole lot of them. It all sounds very unhealthy however you look at it.

wombat22 Tue 25-Feb-14 20:13:17

Sitting on his lap confused Avoid them all

Hedgehead Tue 25-Feb-14 20:14:01

Wow, that is very complicated. So many questions...

If her accusation has been ignored, she may now feel that the only way she can get support is by ignoring it too. Are they (your MIL and her partner) the only people she has? Is she independent?

What does your gut tell you about him? Do you understand the reasons for your MIL and her P refuting the allegations? What does your DH think?

DaenerysTargaryensDragonBaby Tue 25-Feb-14 20:16:20

Yah, stay away. Sorry.

Either she is lying and he isn't overly bothered (weird) or he is lying and she isn't overly bothered (more weird).

Either way it's totally weird.

GimmeDaBoobehz Tue 25-Feb-14 20:18:46

I would echo stay away from the lot of them, they sound messed up to the extreme.

Either your DHs mother doesn't believe her daughter who told the truth and is staying with an abusive man and the only way the daughter can be around the mother is if she accepts the stepfather, but she's bleeding him dry to punish him for what he has done.


DHs sister has made up the whole thing to attention seek and is now adding insult to injury by bleeding her stepfather dry and making her brother and his wife's relationship with family non existent.

Either way you have one very selfish person in this family.

ConfusedBeyondBelief Tue 25-Feb-14 20:24:34

SIL has her dad, stepmother, and the rest of that side of the family. SIL has said that she wants to pretend that it never happened, and that this is the only way she can have a relationship with her mum. She is a student, and not really independent.

My gut says that either she lied and can't take it back because it's all got too big, or that there was an inappropriate relationship between the two of them. However, that could be my own feelings about her clouding my judgement.

It's DH I worry about. He has been shunned by that side of the family for doing the right thing.

MIL is a strange one. She told me she was sexually abused by her sister and one other person when she was a child, and that her mum was sexually abused as well. So why wouldn't she believe her daughter?

bellablot Tue 25-Feb-14 20:29:57

FGS, sounds like your better away from that crowd and your DH too. What a bunch of fruit loops! Be happy your DS doesn't have to witness any of it.

stooshe Tue 25-Feb-14 20:40:52

Stay away. The dynamics of a family who have not dealt with accusations of child sexual abuse are very strange to the outside eye. The abuser I know had a push pull relationship with his victims/daughters. His family knows what he is. He has never been incarcerated.
My cousin who was abused by her father seemed to be the only one who had anything good to say about him when he picked up and left the family (the abuse has been ascertained drip by drip in the intervening thirty years).
When allegations/suspicions of sexual abuse are not dealt with in a clear cut way (ie LTB, reporting to the police, social services), the victim doesn't always cut off contact at the first available moment. The abuser uses this as "justification" of their innocence.

I've had to swerve my cousin, her sister (my ex best friend) because, even though one of them is a victim, their immediate family haven't done anything about the man. I swerve a bunch of elders as well as they seem to know, but want to know "what I know".

Stay away, keep your sanity. If you are religious in any way, you might can say a prayer for your SIL. But I wouldn't use her victimhood as a justification to be involved with this mob. I've seen what non condemnation of sexual abuse can do. Your child doesn't need to sieve through mixed messages to find what should be the right reaction to accusations of child sexual abuse.

And if you feel that your partner is just "following the crowd" for a quiet life, kick him to the kerb, too.
In life, their are still some things that are just WRONG. Follow your gut.

Twinklestein Tue 25-Feb-14 21:03:16

False allegations of sexual abuse are rare, and when they are made there is usually something to be gained. I don't see what SIL had to gain in this circumstance.

The expensive presents smack of a guilty conscience, and coupled with the lap sitting and eating from the same plate seem to indicate an inappropriate relationship.

It's actually sadly not uncommon for a mother to ignore allegations of abuse against a partner they don't want to leave (or deal with the consequences). If the mother was abused as well she may believe that sex abuse is part of life and not such a big deal.

Victims of sex abuse within families suck it up for many different reasons, all the more so if they confess to the abuse but are ignored or accused of lying.

Suicidal5833 Tue 25-Feb-14 21:29:37

The grooming process of a child is a very complex one and it sounds to me like the sitting on his lap and being bought expensive gifts are actually further evidence that she has been groomed to high heavens. Many abuse victims love their abuser it's how they get them to stay quiet.

Abuse can also have such a detrimental effect on a person that it's hard to tell what's going on in her head.

ConfusedBeyondBelief Tue 25-Feb-14 21:33:29

Twinklestein, Suicidal, that's the thing - I know that false allegations are rare. SIL only told MIL once her DP had moved to London. Their relationship was breaking down, and that's when SIL told all. Which only pushed MIL back to her DP. So fucked up!

Viviennemary Tue 25-Feb-14 21:39:56

You have no option but to cut contact with all of them. It's the only way. Personally I wouldn't have anything to do with any of them.

beeny Tue 25-Feb-14 21:40:52

Agree with Suicidal 100%.I see this all the time in child abuse cases that i prosecute.

ConfusedBeyondBelief Tue 25-Feb-14 21:51:47

Those saying cut contact - does that include SIL?

savingupforanother Tue 25-Feb-14 21:58:48

You could tell SIL that you are there for her but that you want to bring your family up in a non-toxic atmosphere as far as possible, so you will not be regarding yourselves as part of the family - but your door will be open if she wants to talk?

I would absolutely have no truck with the rest of them.

Re the MIL's own history, maybe she feels her abuse was worse, and so SIL has not 'really' been abused, is making a fuss about something minor? Very very poor from a parent but I can believe it happens.

Suicidal5833 Tue 25-Feb-14 21:59:17

I don't see why you should cut contact with sil she is just a very confused mixed up woman but you have no evidence to suggest she is a danger to anyone.

Viviennemary Tue 25-Feb-14 22:05:14

I would cut contact with all of them including your SIL. As this was not dealt with properly and still isn't being faced up to. That's what I'd do. I wouldn't want my child mixed up in any of this.

ConfusedBeyondBelief Tue 25-Feb-14 22:05:55

You're right Suicidal. I just don't like her. Ever since she lied about me leaving MIL's house in a mess when I stayed there with DH, SIL and her boyfriend, I've been weary of her. And when DS fell off of the sofa backwards in front of her and smacked his head on the floor she just looked at him - not a squeak of concern. In fact, I can't stand her, and only keep in contact because I would feel bad cutting her out because of the abuse. DH doesn't really like her either, mainly because she was and still is spoiled, whereas he wasn't.

savingupforanother Tue 25-Feb-14 23:24:19

But you're cutting all of them out because they're unpleasant and behave in a weird and self-centred way. Not to minimise the sexual abuse issues, but it's not limited to that, it's about the kind of people they are... although of course that's also shaped by the abuse backstory.

Tesselation Wed 26-Feb-14 07:47:21

The thing is if you cut contact with SIL too then she may receive a very negative message. To her it could seem that she is being punished for being a victim. She could get the message that it would be better to keep quiet as people avoid you when you tell the truth.

I know OP has valid reasons for not wanting to be around SIL but it doesn't sound like SIL could understand those reasons and may end up taking away a different and harmful message.

My sister lies and tells stories that cause awkwardness and embarrassment. I am relieved that she isn't around much but I try to not react emotionally when she is. She started living a fantasy existence while she was abused to take her mind off what was happening to her. She won't go for counselling so probably has a lot of underlying anger at everyone in the family who never noticed what was happening to her.

I try and think of it as a disability and that helps.

I'd go with savingupforanother's suggestion. Show SIL exactly where your boundaries are especially where your children are concerned but leave the door open. You could be a positive role model for her. She may not appreciate it immediately but it could make a difference to how she feels about herself and whether she seeks help. Also make sure she knows about sources of advice like NAPAC.

Good luck with everything OP.

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