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When, if at all, should children be told their father raped me?

(41 Posts)
BlackSlateFloor Sun 19-Mar-17 16:16:23

I don't know if this is the right place - waivering between here and relationships but chose here because it's more the theoretical - should I ever, do they need to know thing, and I'm thinking of this from a feminist viewpoint (I think).

During my relationship my childrens' father raped and sexually coerced/abused me. It escalated towards the end - none of the children were conceived by rape.

It's currently being investigated by police but realistically, given it's historical and we were in a relationship, and although they are pursuing a potential source of evidence I think it doubtful they will find any, I am fully expecting no charges to be brought.

The children are all young, and I would not even entertain the possibility of telling them anything while they are still children. Clearly that would be completely inappropriate.

I feel horrified by the thought of the boys growing up and behaving like their father, or the girl accepting or being subjected to such behaviour. I'm wondering if there's any benefit in telling them at some point when they're grown up?

Am I being selfish to even think about this? Their social worker keeps telling me that what has gone on between their father and me is nothing to do with them, and I agree - I've never said anything negative to any of them about him. But he was also abusive in other ways and they witnessed some of it. I don't want to gas light them by pretending everything was rosy and denying what they experienced.

Will they need to know at some point in the future? Is there even an answer to this question?

Batteriesallgone Sun 19-Mar-17 16:19:58

I have a history of rape and sexual abuse.

It's not the same because DH and I are in a loving relationship and he hasn't harmed me.

But we are both agreed it is important for the children to know once they are older teens / adults - if it ever seems appropriate to bring up.

My personal feelings on it unless you know someone who it has happened to it keeps it out there in the ether - if someone talks to you about rape / abuse it makes it more real and you are more alert to avoiding it. Just my opinion though.

OnlyEatsToast Sun 19-Mar-17 16:22:49

Why on earth would you tell them? How would knowing those details be of any benefit to them? I think you can be clear that it was not a healthy relationship etc without burdening your kids with those details?

Shallishanti Sun 19-Mar-17 16:23:24

do they or will they have contact with him?
As far as them growing up to be abusive or subjected to abuse you have already done the most important thing by getting out of the relationship- now they need as many positive role models as you can provide especially men who are kind and respectful and women who are assertive and independent. I don't see what is to be gained from telling them anything more than that you left their father because you didn't like living with him.

TwentyCups Sun 19-Mar-17 16:23:25

You sound like such a strong woman and mother. Firstly, well done for escaping your abuser.

I don't know what I would do in your shoes exactly. I think it's important to tell your children about rape, and coercion and abuse, in age appropriate ways, no matter what. These conversations can start very young - right from 'these are your private parts and no one touches them without you saying so' through to talks with teens about peer pressure to have sex.

When they are older (much older 18 probably) you could talk to them about the sexual assaults you survived. However please remember that although they are your children you don't owe it to anyone to tell them your private experiences. Only share if you want to, not because you think you have to. Secondly, as their mother, it will be hard for your children to hear this happened to you. You don't have to tell them the abuser was their father, but you don't have to protect him either. It's all up to you.

flowers it's a tough situation. Only you will know whether you want to tell them, but I don't think it's something you should need to decide until they are young adults.

blondehair Sun 19-Mar-17 16:27:50

If they don't see him, surely tell them there's a good reason why you never got along and don't have contact but maybe don't tell them the details? They don't need to know what had happened and wouldn't benefit from knowing.

Sorry for what has happened to you, I hope you're okay.

BlackSlateFloor Sun 19-Mar-17 16:31:18

Yes, sorry - I probably shouldn't have posted. It's just something that been playing on my mind.

It almost certainly wouldn't be fair to tell them it was him, and I'll just emphasise that there's no way I'd tell them anything at all while still children.

They haven't seen him but will do at some point.

I do talk to them about respecting their own and other people's bodies and boundaries in an age appropriate way.

titchy Sun 19-Mar-17 16:31:46

Dear god no don't tell them. Can you imagine how you'd feel being told your father, your flesh and blood, was a violent rapist. Wouldn't you wonder on some level whether his 'evil gene' had been passed to you? Don't give them that burden.

You can certainly tell them he wasn't a good husband and your relationship wasn't a healthy one and that's why you're apart but no more than that.

NotYoda Sun 19-Mar-17 16:32:26

I also think that it's important to discuss rape, coercion and consent with children, as part of the ongoing education about sex and relationships. I have teens (boys) and I have done this ; sometimes prompted by a news report or a TV drama we are watching. But I do not think it is fair for them to hear that their father did it to you. I think it would burden them too much.

On the other hand,I think that if they were to ask you, outright, in those terms, then you should not lie.

StewieGMum Sun 19-Mar-17 16:34:49

I am of the belief that lying by omission in these situations helps no one long term. Start with age appropriate answers to questions. (Why don't we see daddy? Because he hurt Mummy). As they get older you may find more detailed questions being asked or they might not. Talking about sexual abuse and consent is important for all children (NSPCC has good advice on this). Once they're 16 or older and ask, I would tell them the truth.

TwentyCups Sun 19-Mar-17 16:36:40

Don't be sorry for posting, everyone is free to post here.

I agree with PP that when people know that the women they love (mothers, sisters, aunties, friends) have been raped it makes it more real and hits home how terrible it is (especially for young men given the rape culture all around us). Don't be ashamed of being raped, it was not your fault.

I think once they are adults knowing that you survived this wouldn't be a burden. You can tell them this without disclosing that it was their father who inflicted the damage. Although personally I would rather know if my father had raped my mother - I would hate to have a relationship with him whilst my mother kept it to herself.

StewieGMum Sun 19-Mar-17 16:38:19

Do not say 'you're relationship wasn't healthy'. That's you taking half of the blame for their father being abusive. They need to be clear that he caused the violence and you (and they) had to be safe. They should know his behaviour is wrong so they don't repeat it. Not that you were also a problem.

ImsorryTommy Sun 19-Mar-17 16:45:28

I wouldn't. Seeing what my adult cousin has gone through since finding out his Dad sexually abused (not raped) me and other family members; I wish I'd kept my mouth shut.

Wishiwasmoiradingle2017 Sun 19-Mar-17 16:47:54

Surely not being age appropriately honest is letting dc think he is an appropriate role model?
Not necessarily the op but women in general. .
My exh raped me 2 weeks pp and my older dc know (not their df though) younger ones accept he is a shocking df but don't know details yet as under 16. No way am I saving his feelings. . He has led them to believe our divorce was my fault when it wasn't.
They have no relationship now at his own doing. .

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Sun 19-Mar-17 16:56:38

I think the "evil gene" thing does a disservice to both the children and society in general. The fact is that "normal" men - men who hold down jobs, banter amicably with their colleagues, have friends they go down the pub with, probably even friends they do favours for and are nice to - rape. They rape not because they are evil monsters, but because they choose to.

There is no reason why a child should think that they are predestined to follow in their father's footsteps or that they have bad genes. Their father chose to do this.

OP, it's a hard, hard situation to be in. You sound incredibly strong to have escaped, and I am so sorry you went through this in the first place. I agree with Stewie - you tell them whatever version of the truth is age appropriate at the time, giving more detail as and when it seems appropriate and when/ if you are comfortable. For young children "daddy was being unkind to mummy" will suffice, for older children more detail will be appropriate. But it's not right to try to cover up what he did by saying "the relationship was unhealthy" when that wasn't the case.

M0stlyBowlingHedgehog Sun 19-Mar-17 16:59:22

Cross-posted with ImTommy - so sorry to hear what you went through. But the adverse effects on your cousin are his father's fault for abusing you in the first place, not yours for disclosing. Really they are. I'm so sorry you feel like the chaos that resulted meant you did the wrong thing - but you acted in good faith in a situation where you were in impossible circumstances because of what your uncle did to you. It was not your fault. flowers

TheElephantofSurprise Sun 19-Mar-17 17:00:32

My dd was over 30 and a mother herself. It still came as a shock. I'd forgotten that she didn't know.

titchy Sun 19-Mar-17 17:01:12

No of course kids don't inherit an evil gene - but they might think that some of their fathers evil has been passed on to them.

BlackSlateFloor Sun 19-Mar-17 17:02:37

So many of my conflicts my concerns being reflected here.

I would be really worried that it might make them think they have bad genes and see themselves as more likely to do that.

But I would hope that knowing it had happened to me would make them all question the awful rape culture they will be exposed to as teens and young adults. Telling them but not saying who did it seems an obvious solution - don't know why I didn't think of it.

I am also concerned about them thinking he is an appropriate role model when he isn't in so many ways.

They have been told that daddy hurt mummy because they needed an explanation of his sudden disappearance when he was arrrested (for physical violence). And they have witnessed abuse - physical and emotional - so while I agree with the social worker that I shouldn't be talking to them negatively about him in general - for instance when they do negative behaviours and say when challenged that daddy did it, I do and will continue to say he was wrong to do that.

It's so bloody hard.

MorrisZapp Sun 19-Mar-17 17:06:18

Another perspective here. Are you considering this so that you can offload feelings? If so it's really important to recognise that that's not what your kids are for. My mum used me this way because she was so angry and frustrated but I didn't ever want to hear it, then or now. (not rape but upsetting sexual stuff). If you're really sure that it's for their benefit then perhaps do it with the support of a counsellor. But please honestly examine your motives first.

BlackSlateFloor Sun 19-Mar-17 17:14:36

I appreciate your input morris - that is what I'm trying to do, and it has occurred that telling them for my benefit would be horribly unfair.

Just to reiterate this is not something that will be anything other than theoretical for many years. At least 10yrs til the eldest might be old enough, if I decide it's a good idea to share anything.

NotYoda Sun 19-Mar-17 17:20:35

It must be very very hard not to say anything negative about a man who did this. He's not a good man is he? I do not know how you are able to do that and I take my hat off to you.

Are the children having counselling? I really agree with what you said in your OP about not denying what they saw

DJBaggySmalls Sun 19-Mar-17 17:24:19

Never. Tell them the broad strokes, not the fine details.
You dont deny what they saw, but that doesnt mean they need to know details to keep themselves or their children safe.
When they are adults if they feel they need to know more, they'll ask.

ImsorryTommy Sun 19-Mar-17 17:27:48

M0stly - Logically I know it's not my fault but seeing my cousin (who is more like a brother to me) fall apart, have to talk him out of driving up to his Dads and killing him, hearing him talk about how dirty and tainted he feels - questioning every aspect of his heritage and personality, wanting to change his surname etc etc.

The only way I was able to stop him taking the law into his own hands was to report my experiences to the Police. Which has been awful and the other victims don't want to and I completely respect their choices. But it means I'm the sole voice fucking things up for a previously close family and the CPS are very unlikely to prosecute anyway because there's no additional evidence other than my vague statements of things that happened 30 years ago. And I can't say I even want them to prosecute because that means a trial with me being the sole voice.

Yeah, it wasn't my fault and the shame is on the abuser but it's me who's causing all the pain at the moment.

So if I was the OP I wouldn't tell her children but it's a really personal decision that is up to her.

BlackSlateFloor Sun 19-Mar-17 17:35:39

Tommy I'm so sorry and totally relate to the self blame you appear to be feeling. While my logical brain knows it wasn't my fault what happened and that everything that has followed on, all the consequences for everyone are his fault, I still feel responsible because it was me who chose to tell people. It's a really shitty feeling.

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