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Step daughter accused step-father of sex abuse

(26 Posts)
cinderella1 Sun 05-Feb-12 13:36:30

My step-daughter, 14 1/2, moved in with us 3 months ago and has cut off any contact with her mother and step dad. To cut a long story short, I caught her trying to sneak to a party to which she was not allowed to go (first time every my DH has said no to her, but to be fair she's never asked us before), since we knew by monitoring her text (without her knowledge, of course) that it was likelly to involve sex and drinking. After confronting her and a very long and emotional talk in which I threatened to get the police involved (as you dosmile she said that her step dad has abused her since she was very young (he's been living with her mum since she was 7yrs old). I said I believed her, but she must be aware that I'd have to tell my DH, the police, so on, since the accusation is very serious. I got my step-son (24yrs old) to speak to her, just to give her a way out if she'd decided to change her story, but she maintained the accusation throughout talks with him and my DH. We said she can have the night to think about it, before we get the police involved the next day. They came yesterday and after a talk with her, they said they believe and will proceed in the next couple of days with taking a video statement. I'm probably the person most inclined to believe her, but when I tried to talk again to her today - not to pry, just to explained what will happen next and have her prepared, she seemed very detached, unemotional, etc especially when I mentioned that he'll be going hopefully to prison. I don't know whether I hope for her own sake that it's not true (which would make her a very disturbed patological lier) or that it is, and she'll finally get a chance to deal with it. She said she mentioned it to a couple of her friends... Would it be a really bad idea if I tried to talk to them and find out what they know?

TheSpreadingChestnutTree Sun 05-Feb-12 13:39:33

Why don't you believe her? Do you have any reason not to? If not, you need to support her instead of going behind her back trying to catch her out.

workshy Sun 05-Feb-12 13:42:41

emotional detachment is not an unusual response to a traumatic event

if you go round asking her friends, they will invariably tell her and then any trust she has with you will be gone

LynetteScavo Sun 05-Feb-12 13:42:51

I'm not sure why you wouldn't believe her.

Don't ask her friends anything. The police are dealing with it now.

Your job is to keep here safe. Presumably she feels you are keeping her safe (by not letting her go to the party) and she opened up to you.

grumpypants Sun 05-Feb-12 13:43:09

I think you need to leave it to the experts tbh. You sound like you are talking to her about this incessantly and may make it harder for her to think straight. Sorry. FGS don't talk to her friends.

ValarMorghulis Sun 05-Feb-12 13:45:10


I am sorry and i know this will sound very negative but i am quite saddened by the way you handled it. You seem very much as though you don't believe her and are trying to trip her up into lying.

I think that you need to take a very big (huge) step back and not involve yourself with this any further. Allow those who are trained to speak with her and support her.

poor girl

RitaMorgan Sun 05-Feb-12 13:47:01

Why don't you believe her?

I think you just need to support her, and stop stressing her about it. Definitely don't start questioning her friends.

Northernlurker Sun 05-Feb-12 13:50:17

Don't talk about this anymore. You are potentially endangering the legal case. Leave it to the police.

Bucharest Sun 05-Feb-12 13:52:10

You've done the right thing, absolutely.

I can understand why you might be not quite believing her now, the fact that it came out when she was basically in bother with the 2 of you, possibly thought she might be about to be sent back to live somewhere she doesn't want to etc.

But as you truly don't know, then you have to go on supporting her, and letting the authorities do their job now. Treat her as normally as possible,because her life and her relationship with her mother and stepfather (whatever the truth of the situation, and it's not for us, or you, to speculate on that) is never ever going to be normal again. So however this pans out, she's going to need you and her father.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 05-Feb-12 13:59:12

OP says, "I'm probably the person most inclined to believe her", where are you all getting the "why don't you believe her" from? confused

TheSpreadingChestnutTree Sun 05-Feb-12 14:01:20

'I don't know whether I hope for her own sake that it's not true (which would make her a very disturbed patological lier) or that it is, and she'll finally get a chance to deal with it. She said she mentioned it to a couple of her friends... Would it be a really bad idea if I tried to talk to them and find out what they know?'


OldLadyKnowsNothing Sun 05-Feb-12 14:04:45

Wouldn't you want it not to be true, though, as an initial reaction? Because it's just too horrible to believe? I don't read that as OP saying she doesn't believe, more that she's so shocked she can't quite take it in yet.

Anyway, it's now with the police, and no, OP should not talk to friends.

ValarMorghulis Sun 05-Feb-12 14:05:00

MOst inclined to believe her - as in the others probably dont. and most inclined, not the ots believing but the person most likely to.

The message the OP will have been sending this girl is "well i don't believe you but i can't actually come out and say that, so instead i will do my best to make you just say its not true. But as you haven't i am going to sneak around and try and catch you out"

I think it is wrong. Obviously i don't know your SD. But i have dealt with many many women who were abused and the thing that causes them the most pain is the people that didn't believe them.

cory Sun 05-Feb-12 16:48:03

I think it may just be the way your OP was worded, but the way you spoke to the girl could sound as if you didn't believe her and was giving her a chance to own up about having lied. "We said she can have the night to think about it, before we get the police involved the next day" almost sounds like the kind of thing you say to a child whom you suspect of having written rude words on the playschool wall, not the kind of response you would expect yourself if you went to tell your dh that you had been assaulted. (Oh you claim you were mugged, well I'm giving you the night to think about it before we get the police involved).

And the fact that you went on to her after she had spoken to the police about what will happen to her stepfather could equally sound as if you expected her to take responsibility for that and retract her statement out of concern for him.

If she is telling the truth, then quite frankly it is no business of hers if they hang, drawn and quarter him; her job is merely to say what happened and then let the adults do the rest.

If she is not telling the truth- well, what reason have you to believe she is not?

Seeming detached after you have just had to tell about something horrible that will upset your whole world is a totally normal reaction, as no doubt the police will know. I once had to report something similar that happened to me and I remember listening to my own voice and thinking how weird it sounded. Fortunately I was believed straightaway.

My experience

Birdsgottafly Sun 05-Feb-12 16:48:20

OP- also don't be forcing her to talk this through with males. The police should be signposting her to any support services available.

You shouldn't talk to her friends they should be making statements to the police without having told it to you, you asking questions may change what they remember. Police questioners go through specialist training so not to suggest anything to those possibly involved in any way.

scurryfunge Sun 05-Feb-12 16:51:43

Don't start interfering with potential witnesses - you will fuck up any subsequent investigation.

LaCoccinelle Sun 05-Feb-12 17:02:19

Emotional detachment can be a coping mechanism, it is for me. When I made a statement to the police about my father sexually abusing me, I probably seemed very calm and detached. No matter how bad I felt I knew I had to get through the statement so the only way for me to cope was to just say, without emotion, what happened. I was very similar in court when I had to testify at his trial.

You should support her, don't try to ask her about what happened, if she wants to tell you she will, and don't talk to anyone else who could be a potential witness, this includes other people she has told about the abuse.

She may not hope that her stepfather will go to prison, I didn't want my dad to, I was worried about how he'd cope, I don't hate him and I don't want bad things to happen to him. I just don't want him to do bad things to anybody else. Even if she does retract her statement that doesn't mean she's been lying, it may just mean she's feeling pressured to withdraw what she's said, try not to add to that pressure.

cinderella1 Mon 06-Feb-12 14:28:53

Thank you all for the message, even if some of them are a bit harsh - I understand. I am very confused, but I do love her to bits and have already said that I do believ her and will support her unconditionally (guess just the way it came out i.e. after us telling her for first time she can't do something and me catching her out trying to sneak for the night and laughing with her friends how if her father called the police she'd be just "oh, I told you I was at friends"). Plus I have seen some extremely explicit sexting on her part with a boy (as far as I can see nothing has happened yet, though, but even after all this came out she's still going on to him about doing what they've planned another time). But after reading about it, it seems that the way some victims of sex child abuse cope with it is to become very sexually active? But thank you for the advice, I didn't think that it might seem as me digging "dirt" or interfering with potential witnesses. So will stay way clear and try to keep things as nice as normal as we can (I have a 9yrs old son, who I really want to keep ignorant of all this). Special thank you to LaCoccinelle for sharing your experience - it really helps to understand the way she's been!

cory Tue 07-Feb-12 09:40:08

It is worth remembering that children sometimes let themselves be sexually abused because they have overlarge consciences and feel responsible for the happiness of the abusing adult (or the rest of the family, not wanting to rock the boat). If this is the case, then the mention of the adult getting punished may lead them to retract a statement that was actually true in the first place: the retraction can be part of the same twisted relationship as the abuse.

Ime bursting out with what has happened at the precise moment when you feel hard done by in some totally different area or feel that different standards apply is psychologically plausible. It doesn't prove that the incidents have happened, but it certainly to me doesn't suggest that they didn't.

jessjessjess Wed 19-Dec-12 12:31:06

Please stop trying to analyse and judge, and just support this poor girl.

Izzyschangelingisarriving Wed 19-Dec-12 12:38:11

Ring the NSPCC they will give you instant advice on how to support her.

She may never be willing to talk about what happened to you or anyone else she knows. You may all have to find a way to live with that.

Izzyschangelingisarriving Wed 19-Dec-12 12:47:59

I've pmd you

brighterfuture Wed 19-Dec-12 20:11:44

Op . Your step dd trusted you enough to open up.

Sometimes it's easier for abused children to confess to lying when what they've told is actually true because its easier to face the consequences of seemingly having lied than the very dramatic consequences of the truth coming out.

I had to tell the truth about an event in my childhood and I remember feeling very detached and numb and even doubted myself even though I knew it was true... I deeply wanted it not to be ..( I would have prefered that I was a crazy pathological liar than the truth )

She must be feeling very shellshocked. Please don't talk to her friends, just be there for her and let her know you love and approve of her.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Wed 19-Dec-12 20:13:57

Zombie thread.

ratbagcatbag Wed 19-Dec-12 20:22:09

Ok - my experience.

I was getting a massive bollocking from my parents when I blurted out my uncle had been abusing me, it was just a " I'm fed up with dealing with everything now type of reaction" my parents didn't believe me, they thought it was to deflect the telling off. It was never mentioned again. I was 13. By that time I was getting quite forward for my age and that carried on as I needed to prove I was normal and could attract people my own age, even if it was just sexually.

I've never gotten over my parents disbelieving me, and I went to the police with the support of DH when I was 22. I was very detached and to this day could not tell anyone close the details of what happened to me, not even DH.

Please believe her, what's happened to her will shape her life and how you deal with it can either help start fixing those shards or send her on the self destruct path that I was on.

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