Stepson abusing gf...what should I do?(18 Posts)
Long story...dss is almost 23 and he and his lovely gf have been together nearly 5 years. She confided in me two months ago that he has on several occasions done things like strip her naked and pour water over her, lock her in a room, take her phone, leave her in the cold without a key to get in, call her worthless and take all the bedding off the bed so she had nothing to sleep on. I was deeply shocked by this as always been close to him in comparison with dsd. I asked gf whether she had told anyone and she said I was the first. She alluded to dss' mum that something was up and she just stated that her ex (my dh) had cheated on her and tried to knock her down in the car and her son was not brought up by her that way (ie that her son's behaviour is down to my dh). She cannot tell her parents as they will hate my DSS, not surprisingly .
This has all brought back some very bad memories as I left my first husband due to dv, and what dss gf is describing is chillingly familiar ie the "you made me do it", "it was the booze talking" "it won't ever happen again" etc etc.
I'm torn...if it was my son I would talk to him. As a stepmother I can never do the right thing in this scenario. Firstly, my dss does not know that his parents' marriage broke up via multiple cheating episodes by her. Secondly, I don't know if his mother has told my DSS the same pack of lies that she told his girlfriend.
Thirdly, and more seriously, I told my husband all of this the day after my conversation with my DSS gf. He was shocked of course, but seemed to minimise the actions. That upset me of course both because I felt he was being defensive but also because, as a previous victim of DV, I had thought he would understand my reaction. I suggested he try to have a discussion with his son about the ending of his marriage, as his son is now an adult (his daughter already knows) so that it gives him a more balanced impression and invalidates violence as the cause of the divorce. He may have wrongly been given the impression that power is ok in a relationship. My husband agreed it might help and that he would talk to him. I told the gf that she should think very carefully before committing further with my DSS, and to call me even in the middle of the night should she need to. I also told her where the spare key is.
My husband and I have now fallen out about all of this and he is now refusing to talk to his son at all about it and is down the pub now acting like nothing has happened. I feel powerless to help his gf and confused about why my otherwise dh is brushing this under the carpet when he know how devastating dv can be. Help!!
Hi OP. Didn't want to read and run.
I'm a bit confused about the timeline - she told you all this two months ago? Did she ask for help to leave? Did you offer it? Has she spoken to you since?
What would you do if it was a friend, neighbour or colleague told you this? If it was me, I would want to help them (to get help) to get away from the abusive partner immediately.
Unless there is something you have not shared that would cast extremely strong doubt on her claims, then it sounds as if she needs urgent support and protection.
Your husband's reaction is bizarre. It's impossible to know why he's minimising (and in reality condoning) his son's actions.
" Firstly, my dss does not know that his parents' marriage broke up via multiple cheating episodes by her. Secondly, I don't know if his mother has told my DSS the same pack of lies that she told his girlfriend."
Hmm, how can you be so such what SHE says is lies? Surely you only know your dh side of the story and he may have lied to you. In fact, his later actions make it look as if maybe he has?
Anyway, in your shoes I would point the gf to womens aid, tell her I was always there for her (as you have done) and try and subtly encourage her to get the hell out of dodge.
Ask dh how he would feel is his daughter came to him with this story about her bf?
Thank you for all your replies. I am in torment over this and my husband and I are barely speaking. He won't address anything with his son as says he will not act upon third hand information (slightly makes me feel he is saying one of us is lying). I feel he needs to do something, but not sure what that is,
As for me,I shared my experiences with her when she told me, and explained that there are barely any instances where dv starts then stops. I told her it seemed a very familiar pattern. They have moved back temporarily to near us for the next ten months before buying a house, and are living between parents' houses. She may feel safer now they are not in their own place, but I think this may all restart again.
Aside from telling her it would be unwise to commit, I haven't put her in touch with women's aid or anything, but have told her what to do should it recur. I also told my husband immediately in the hope he would find some way of addressing things. He clearly isn't going to and I am really disappointed in him. We've been together 10 years and I feel I don't know him now.
As to how I know about the end of the marriage, his friends witnessed her with the other guys, and she moved in with the final one when he finally left her. I think he is a really good man in all respects except this. I'm definitely going to take the advice about asking what would happen if his dd came to him about this; that would be his Achilles heel for sure!
I don't feel I can talk to my DSS and don't want to put his gf in danger; any other ideas about what I can do?
Thanks again for help and support.
Op, never under estimate how many women have an affairs which enable them to escape abusive relationships. Actually I know men who have done the same.
Not that I'm saying that an affair is justified - it isn't, but there is often more to a relationship breakdown than just an affair.
So while she may have had an affair/s doesn't mean that he wasn't an abuser.... His denial in itself is a red flag.
Hi - you're right. That's exactly how I escaped my abusive marriage. I genuinely don't think he was an abuser. His ex wife was definitely promiscuous- it was well known in the village. I think he has a serious case of ostrich mentality and trying to leave the past in the past. I would imagine after 10 years I would have an inkling if he himself was violent - and I've never seen a hint of it. I just don't think he can bear to think his perfect son is less than perfect. He is unable to process any faults in either of his children. The dilemma is what i do next about the gf. I feel like I have to do something. I can't let her suffer the same fate as me. But I really don't know how to intervene and keep her safe.
Bottom line: you can't keep her safe. Why are you not screaming at her to run for the hills before she commits more by buying a house with him? Having your DH talk to him will achieve nothing. He's hardly likely to admit it and say sorry, is he? This young woman needs help and she's come to you for it.
Help her see that she doesn't need to stay with this pathetic excuse for a man. Put her in touch with Women's Aid and let them help her as well.
Then take a long hard look at your DH and figure out if he's the man you think he is.
You're right - she came to me for help. It's up to me to find a way to help her, even if both his natural parents (my husband included) create merry hell for me. Then I have to figure out if I am prepared to lose my marriage and my kids lose their stepdad (who they love) over it. I can't see that he will take it well if I intervene, but as I love her and love my stepson (despite what he has done) I need to do this to save it from escalating. Based on my own experience, it always seems to escalate, even if there are nice calm periods in between. I will try to talk to him again and put the points across in a way that is less heated than the last time we discussed it. I really appreciate your support. It's the first time I have ever posted on here and it's on a very difficult topic, so all of your feedback has been helpful and objective. Please continue to let me know of anything else you think I could or should be doing or saying.
Could you start by doing something like provide her with space to contact Women's Aid? Or help her work out a plan if she won't do that.
Agree wholeheartedly with it rarely
never starts and then stops. It starts and stays the same or escalates only IMHO.
OP with the greatest amount of sympathy and tact I can muster - if your husband is willing to try to brush this under the carpet, then he's complicit in this young woman being abused. Would you want to stay married to a man like that? Would you respect him and want your kids to learn from him?
You can't save it from escalating. It is not yours to fix or solve. All you can do is help her escape. Mines suggestions are excellent. She obviously doesn't feel like she can just walk away from him, but can you give her a safe space when she can begin to realise it's a possibility?
Also, it might be worth posting on Relationships as well. This isn't a specific step issue and some of the people on that board give the most helpful and insightful advice I've ever seen.
Totally agree with Bell
You need to do the right thing. The longer she stays with him (even in at someone else's house) the more time and money she is wasting. The idea of them making further commitment and buying a home together is really chilling. She needs to get away from him now.
Sadly, your own relationship probably needs reviewing, too.
Update: thanks to all who commented. We had a huge fight about all of this on Monday. Since then, he has been thinking and now has come back to me to say he is ready to tackle it and support me in helping her. I hope this is the case, but he does seem to have reflected and understood the severity of the situ. Will repost when we have figured out next steps. I'm so relieved he has thought about it properly as I was beginning to have serious second thoughts. Thank you so much for your advice and support- the first post I have ever made though a regular lurker!
Well done, Getting.
Did you DH explain why he had previously not wanted to act?
Paralysed by not knowing how to without compromising me (the confidant) or his son's gf. Admits he thought about what to do a number of times and kind of filed in the "too difficult" box. Probably also, not being that familiar with dv, thought it might be an aberration. I have explained more to him now that we have stopped shouting, and I think he gets it more than he did. I feel we have turned a corner but not counting chickens yet...
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