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post #81 of 131
<<<Many of us are just suggesting that 1) if her son doesn't seem upset by what happened and isn't aware that it's considered wrong, he is likely not to be negatively affected by the incident itself. >>>>

As an addendum to my post and to explain my last paragraph better, IMO, a baby of 3.5yo may not see it as wrong and as innocent. He will forget about it, unless reminded over the years. So, I just wanted to reiterate, that BECAUSE he forgot and BECAUSE he felt nothing negative, he may very well "abuse" another child of the same age when he is older. When the memory fades, and he has no idea why he is doing it, and feels no shame because it was made to not be wrong, then this puts risk to other children when he grows older.

And, it is VERY POSSIBLE, this is what happened with the nephew. Now, my theory, is that many abuse others because it is biologically in them. However, if the cycle is repeated, it is often times, because they were too young to remember that it was hurtful and wrong. KWIM?

I am not trying to make it sound like it is the victim's fault, or that it should be treated as such. Any person who has dealt with this kind of thing has a very hard road to tow, and a very fine line to walk. I am praying for you OP, and I know this is so hard for you both.

I may not be wording what I am trying to say correctly. But, I do think that a child that has been abused, should probably have their own room if they have siblings. Because what is "common" shouldn't necassarily be seen as "normal". Unfortunately, these types of situations are happening more and more, or it just isn't a dirty little secret anymore and it is being talked about more.

Anyway, JMHO. Kymberli
post #82 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by LROM View Post
Your examples show how many different shapes/forms abuse can take.

Just wondering - given the often invisible and hidden nature of sexual abuse, how does anyone know for sure that in the above 2 cases where you say there "NEVER" any other abuse incident... how can anyone be certain there was no other prior abuse?
I meant that they were asked and don't remember any events besides the one I mentioned in case #1. And, they were both being very candid and honest. There was no reason to lie. It was a study, a real interest of mine. And, of my experience, abusers tend to blame someone else, so if they had someone to blame, I am sure they would have. #1 took responsibility, #2 did not.

Since victims of abuse are more likely to abuse later, seems to be the current theory, then any abuse would have had to happen before their memories were formed and stuck in their minds. Hence, my 2nd theory, that if abuse does take place before 5yo, then the child is more likely to emulate it. Kymberli
post #83 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by fwlady View Post
I meant that they were asked and don't remember any events besides the one I mentioned in case #1. And, they were both being very candid and honest. There was no reason to lie. It was a study, a real interest of mine. And, of my experience, abusers tend to blame someone else, so if they had someone to blame, I am sure they would have.

<snip>

Since victims of abuse are more likely to abuse later, seems to be the current theory, then any abuse would have had to happen before their memories were formed and stuck in their minds.
I think it has very little to do with "before their memories were formed". I was abused from about age 2 (hard to pin down) until I was about 8. I remember very early incidents, and don't remember some of the later ones (definitely some blurring going on, of course, as there were many incidents). My ex-husband was abused at about age 5. He never remembered it at all (and he would absolutely have loved to blame his issues on someone else)...until just after our break-up when he had a massive emotional collapse, and woke up with the memories back in his head. I have no idea how repression of memories actually works, neurologically, but he had absolutely repressed them. He was old enough to remember - in fact, he had many memories from the same time period (easy enough to pin down, as he moved to another province around then) - but he didn't remember the molestation until he was 30. We met when he was 15.
post #84 of 131
I've been thinking about this all day and I don't have any answers, just musings.

OP, you said your son wasn't bothered or shamed by the activity. Will he put two and two together when he doesn't see his cousin anymore and understand that it was becuase of what they were doing? Because when you found them, HE was the one with his penis out, and I'm sure he heard his cousin blaming it on him. I can't imagine trying to explain to a 3.5 yo that what happened was wrong, but it wasn't your fault (even though you were a/the prime player -- in his head, anyway), and we're not going to let you see your cousin anymore but it's not to punish you... It just seems like the act of keeping them totally separated could itself cause your son to magnify the incident and create guilt/shame feelings in him.

Assuming you are committed to cutting off contact entirely, could you do it slowly but safely? For example, they see each other roughly once a week you said. So in about a week, go out to the movies with your sister and nephew -- in separate cars, and seat one of the adults between the boys. So they have a fun experience together, but there's no chance of anything happening. Or meet up for lunch at a restaurant and sit the kids on opposite sides of the table.

That would at the minimum create some distance between this event and the time when DS's cousin disappears from his life, and maybe even give you time to think more about whether any relationship is possible.


Everyone, feel free to tell me I'm crazy...
post #85 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Storm Bride View Post
I think it has very little to do with "before their memories were formed". I was abused from about age 2 (hard to pin down) until I was about 8. I remember very early incidents, and don't remember some of the later ones (definitely some blurring going on, of course, as there were many incidents). My ex-husband was abused at about age 5. He never remembered it at all (and he would absolutely have loved to blame his issues on someone else)...until just after our break-up when he had a massive emotional collapse, and woke up with the memories back in his head. I have no idea how repression of memories actually works, neurologically, but he had absolutely repressed them. He was old enough to remember - in fact, he had many memories from the same time period (easy enough to pin down, as he moved to another province around then) - but he didn't remember the molestation until he was 30. We met when he was 15.
fwlady/Kymberli, I'm also in the field of child welfare and it sounds to me like maybe you haven't yet come across 2 very common dynamics in child abuse - or maybe no one's called them to your attention yet. StormBride's post is definitely one of them.

One is where, like in OPs case, the children at the time of abuse didn't recognize it as abuse. This means when questioned about it later, even if asked whether specific acts had ever happened, they didn't remember because it simply didn't stick out in their memory.

And then the opposite but even more common dynamic which Storm Bride just talked about is that very often the experience and memory of abuse is so painful and debilitating, the brain literally locks it away until somehow later the brain/body feels it can handle the memory and it comes back. So for many years there is no memory of the abuse and if you asked the person they would say honestly that it didn't happen. But then years later, if given a safer place or the victim is in a stronger place, sometimes those self-preservation mechanisms we have feel it's ok to loosen up a bit and memories start to come back. Have you heard of "recovered memories" or similar dynamics? They are very real.

I don't dispute that the children you talked to were being open and honest. But I do dispute your idea that the fact that they didn't reportany abuse and seemed not to remember any means that it is a certainty that they were never abused before.

There is simply waaaaay too much science and professional experience out there that shows children and adults sometimes do not remember because it is their self-preservation kicking in and not allowing them to remember. But that doesn't change the fact that the abuse did actually happen and was discovered later, after initial inquiries.
post #86 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dov'sMom View Post
I've been thinking about this all day and I don't have any answers, just musings.

OP, you said your son wasn't bothered or shamed by the activity. Will he put two and two together when he doesn't see his cousin anymore and understand that it was becuase of what they were doing? Because when you found them, HE was the one with his penis out, and I'm sure he heard his cousin blaming it on him. I can't imagine trying to explain to a 3.5 yo that what happened was wrong, but it wasn't your fault (even though you were a/the prime player -- in his head, anyway), and we're not going to let you see your cousin anymore but it's not to punish you... It just seems like the act of keeping them totally separated could itself cause your son to magnify the incident and create guilt/shame feelings in him.

Assuming you are committed to cutting off contact entirely, could you do it slowly but safely? For example, they see each other roughly once a week you said. So in about a week, go out to the movies with your sister and nephew -- in separate cars, and seat one of the adults between the boys. So they have a fun experience together, but there's no chance of anything happening. Or meet up for lunch at a restaurant and sit the kids on opposite sides of the table.

That would at the minimum create some distance between this event and the time when DS's cousin disappears from his life, and maybe even give you time to think more about whether any relationship is possible.


Everyone, feel free to tell me I'm crazy...
You're not crazy at all, quite the opposite. What you say happens all the time and it's a very real thing for OP to consider as she decides what her next steps will be.
post #87 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by LROM View Post
Neetling it sounds like in your situation all those kids were unsupervised. I think everyone who's mentioned hoping OP will one day open to maybe still allowing her son (who she says herself loves her nephew) to still be able to see him sometimes has said "SUPERVISED".

Supervision is clearly and obviously key to any future relationship, and OP herself was already thinking that and that's why she looked in. "Playing tent" seemed harmless at the time, but now we know it wasn't.

All some of us are saying is, if the cousins really value each other and OPs son will have a hard time never seeing his cousin again, and if it's possible to have constant adult supervision at all times, maybe that will be best for everyone in the future. But only if there's constant supervision!

No one... no one wants OPs son to be mistreated again. But there's some room between "they never see each other again" and "leave them in a room alone totally unsupervised".
Exactly. Also "what if he changes is mind about being a victim one day?" Why would he change his mind? Because someone keeps reminding him that he SHOULD be one?
post #88 of 131
Man this is a hard situation.

I absolutely feel that you should do what you feel you need to do right now. I think that life surprises us sometimes and what is absolutely the correct thing right now may not be the correct thing for all time.

Counseling, counseling, counseling for everyone in your whole family. This is rough and processing it will be difficult for all involved.
post #89 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by oceanbaby View Post
I was told by a therapist one time that studies have shown that it is not sexual abuse/molestation in and of itself that causes long term damage to a person, but rather how it is handled or how they are treated. Children who are not believed, children who are in a situation of being scared to tell, children who are threatened and manipulated for a long time, children who are made to feel ashamed - these are the ones who end up dealing with serious repurcussions. Children who experienced a one time, non violent incident, and were immediately believed and protected by their parents (or adults in charge) go on to have no discernable effects from the situation.
This is what I was taught too.
post #90 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beene View Post
Exactly. Also "what if he changes is mind about being a victim one day?" Why would he change his mind? Because someone keeps reminding him that he SHOULD be one?

Or, because at three he thinks it's funny and has no idea of the reality of the situation. But if he remembers this incident when he's 14, I'm quite sure he'll have a different outlook.

If someone told you now that a much older cousin had your pants down and was making oral contact with your genitals when you were three years old, would you think you were not in any way a victim?
post #91 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by knucklehead View Post
I don't know what this is going to do to our family. Nothing is ever going to be the same. I never want to look at my nephew again and my children will never be around him. I have no idea how I'm going to explain to my son why he never sees his cousin anymore. He is used to seeing him at least once a week. He still asks for his cat that ran away over a year ago! What do I tell him? I think of holidays, birthdays etc., what the hell do we do now? Everything is ruined. Even if I get my son past the actual act how do I explain everything else? A death would be easier to explain than this. I'm at a loss.
Your nephew is still worth being around. Get over being mad first though. He's still a kid who's overcome very, very unfair obstacles.

His urges are normal. His actions are not normal. Or at least they aren't OK. Your nephew and son should still see each other, but never leave him alone or even out of sight. Not even for a minute.

I know what he did was wrong, but your nephew shouldn't be hated. (hate him now.. you are still mad) so try to get past it if possible.
post #92 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by denimtiger View Post
If someone told you now that a much older cousin had your pants down and was making oral contact with your genitals when you were three years old, would you think you were not in any way a victim?
That would depend on many, many factors. In any case, believing intellectually, after the fact, that one was victimized, is a very different experience than feeling victimized at the time. I'm not urging the OP to go in any particular direction, except that I agree counseling for all parties is probably in order (more serious counseling for the nephew, of course, but he seems to already have a team in place). However, if the OP's ds remembers this all along, and has had counseling, and understands about his cousin's background, and knows he's being supervised/protected, that's not likely to end up with the same emotional ramifications as either feeling traumatized now, or being told years later about it, yk?
post #93 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
That thought makes me really sad for that poor boy. 11 years old, and he's had his one strike. He's out. Regardless of the help he gets.

You can still have contact with him without putting your kids back into a situation where they could be victimized again. You can have them play together - but this time, no forts or alone time allowed.

Those of us who seem to be "putting the nephew first" are just advocating to not decide now, in the heat of the moment, to cut this part of her family off. To just keep the option open.
This. Yes, the cousin is an "offender." But he's also only 11! He has the rest of his life ahead of him, including some very formative years, and how his family treats him will play a huge role in the man he becomes. The OP already said he has trouble relating to his peers. So if his extended family dumps him too, where will that leave his self-worth? The boy needs all the positive reinforcement he can get, and needs to learn appropriate limits and boundaries. Alienating him won't teach him that; it will teach him that he is "bad" and will grow up to continue doing "bad" things. I don't think anyone wants that for him.

OP, I don't blame you for wanting to cut off ties, and you should definitely take a break from that relationship for awhile. But please reconsider the permanency of it. Your sister has been struggling for years with him. It's exhausting, and she needs support. Please don't let her give up on her boy.
post #94 of 131
I have distinct memories from 2 and 3 years old. One is of my much older brother changing my diaper. It wasn't traumatic at all, but he didn't normally do that, and I distinctly remember feeling embarrassed, then relieved to be clean again.

My point is that the OP's DS might remember the incident. If he thought it was a silly game, if he liked it, and if there isn't some clear sign that it was verty seriously not OK, he might well try it out with another kid. How do you give your kid this kind of sign without making him feel like a victim? I don't know. It just points to the need for a therapist that specializes in this.

Also, I agree with PPs that the OP's DS might remember this and as his understanding of the incident's seriousness develops, he might wonder why Mom kept bringing the 11 yo around.

No one has addressed the thoughts of the OP's partner (if he's in the picture). I know my DH would be ruthless in cutting off anyone that did this to one of my DSs, regardless of my feelings. And I think he has a right to do so, as an equal parent. I know if this happened in my family, I'd be visiting my sister alone, forevermore.

I am sorry, OP, that you are mourning that your family can never be the way it once was. I think if it were me, I would feel the same way as you. I hope your sister can help your nephew, but I totally disagree with the PPs that think it is your responsibility to help him or in any way worry about preserving your DS's relationship with him. I am offended on your behalf at those comments! Good luck in an awful situation for your family.
post #95 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by aran View Post
Also, I agree with PPs that the OP's DS might remember this and as his understanding of the incident's seriousness develops, he might wonder why Mom kept bringing the 11 yo around.
This is part of why this is so hard. This could definitely happen. It could also happen that he ends up feeling responsible for breaking up the family and is traumatized by that. There's just no way to know.

The OP wanted advice, and I think the advice to get counseling for everyone involved is the best. Therapists are trained to handle this kind of thing, and a bunch of women on a bulletin board, no matter how well meaning, compassionate, or even wise (there are definitely some wise, wise women here), simply aren't. Plus, it's going to take someone actually working with the OP's ds to get a good handle on what's best for him.
post #96 of 131
^Yeah that. I noticed OP disappeared a while back, and I hope it isn't because of all the quibbling from us. Hugs and prayers to you again, OP.
post #97 of 131
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
Exactly. Abusers are smart about it, and would never do something in a venue where they were so sure to be caught. A child would, but not an abuser.
I respectfully disagree. Having worked in the courts, I have seen a number of cases where abuse takes place in very open places, and sometimes in plain view of multiple witnesses. Abusers are not criminal masterminds; they are people with addictions and mental problems, and are typically trying (albeit in a truly awful, unproductive, hurtful way) to deal with their own histories of abuse.

OP, I think this is a situation where you need to seek professional help for yourself and your son. These situations are incredibly hard to deal with and process and you should not try to get through it on your own. I hope your whole family does get help and that all of you are able to work through this problem and move past it.
post #98 of 131
OP: As so often happens in this kind of thread, I've become involved in the discussion of the overall issue, and the potential, hypothetical reactions that your son might have. Since your concern is obviously with your son, right now, that probably feels a bit cold - at least, I think I'd find it cold if I were in your shoes.

I just wanted to pop back in and say that I'm so sorry this has happened, and I'm really impressed with how well you and your sister are coping with it. I hope you can find a path that helps your little boy and allows you to maintain some relationship with your sister.
post #99 of 131
Both boys involved are lucky to have amazing parents who cleary want to do the best they can for them.

In the OPs shoes, my child would not see the older cousin again in any setting that didn't involve DIRECT supervision, and even then, I'd be really wary of it.

In the older child's mother's shoes, I'd be looking into getting this boy some help, and probably would make sure my child could not be around the rest of the family for a long while. She can explain to him exactly why.

You know, I hear loads of sob stories about the abusers' pasts, and the brutal truth is that I really don't care. People make a choice when they become perpetrators. 11 is old enough to know better, he CHOSE to sexually abuse a younger relative. I really don't care, at that point, what the background is, or that he might be rehabilitated or anything else. I care that he isn't ever in a position to cause harm again.

All of that can be made to happen with minimal impact on the younger child. "Bobby's not going to be around much for a while, he's busy with school."
post #100 of 131
I will say up front that this is a huge sensitive spot for me, so if the following is not an appropriate post, Moderator feel free to delete. But confustication since you said how you feel, this is how I feel:

If you care at all about the situation, which you seem to because you posted about it, then you SHOULD care about the abuser in this case.

Because in the vast majority of cases it is because of people who don't care or who believe that once someone is abusive they don't matter anymore that further children get abused and many become abusers themselves.

Yes, there are people who are just born evil and are never abused and just go on to knowingly hurt people. But they are so few and far between, and in my 21 years of working with dysfunctional families and child abuse I have NEVER EVER met that person who did evil things in a vacuum. Once you met the parents or read the file you knew exactly why that person turned into such a dangerous mess. And you usually also see where if there had been the right intervention, they probably wouldn't be as dangerous/messed up as they are now.

Whenever there's a high profile horrific kidnapping and murder of a child and people get all up in arms that the adult molester should get the death penalty, I always say the same thing: if you care so much about situations like this, what have you done lately to help prevent it from happening in your own community? It's all fine to scream for blood from our living rooms, but if we really care that much about the victims, what have we each done to try to change that situation? Have you reached out to a troubled child or family in our neighborhood to offer a kind word? Have you reported some abuse to prevent further abuse? Have you tried to help a parent with a difficult child to better parent that child, even in a small way?

We all know some kid that just didn't seem "right", that creeped us out, that we never wanted our kids around. Fine, keep your kids away - I know I'd keep that kid away from my kids. But I would also say something nice to that kid, maybe facilitate getting that kid into an afterschool program or something productive. SOMETHING, small or big, to try to make a difference.

Because it's almost always THOSE kids who continue to be neglected/abused who end up as the famous horrific abusers. There are thousands of less famous abusers who also could have been swayed by a positive adult if someonoe had cared enough about preventing child abuse to see that that kid needed help.

While many victims of childhood abuse go on to never abuse anyone else, a very high % of perpetrators of abuse were child victims. With some of them, an intervention and the right support could have prevented them from ever hurting anyone else.

That is NOT to negate or minimize the horrific things that child abusers do, but it is hypocritical to care about the victims and not care about the child abusers who are children themselves because if the people in that child's life feel the same way you do after an incident like this, they will give up on that kid and that kid is THAT much more likely to become a very unstable and possibly violent adult. His next victim could then be a child I know, and won't we all be so upset and sorry that no one stepped in and cared about him and tried to address HIS issues so that he wouldn't victimize anyone else.
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