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<p>warning, sa triggers and all that.  also warning that you might not want to be friends with me after you read this.  (because we're friends, right?)</p>
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<p>the guy i married when i was 20 was not abusive to me, at least not that i can see.  (i'm questioning ALL my previous relationships now, as i've seen the pattern here on this forum of mamas thinking an ex-bf was a nice guy, reuniting, and discovering he was not, and the abuse comes flooding back.)  in the first year we were dating, in high school, he told me about something that "happened" between him and his brother, repeatedly, when he was 12-13.  at the time, my perception of what he was telling me was really skewed.  i told him i thought it was normal for siblings to experiment, and it didn't make him a bad person.  however, his brother is 4-5 years younger, and he told me that his brother would cry and beg him not to.  (they also have another brother, between them in age, who was not directly abused but witnessed the abuse.)  i told him that he was probably confused at the time and didn't mean to hurt his brother, and it would be okay.</p>
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<p>i guess my perspective on all of it was skewed by several things.  first of all, we were all teenagers - me, him and his little brother - so i think i didn't understand the age difference, and didn't know that much about sa to be able to see it from the little brother's perspective.  secondly, he was very upset and i guess my codependent tendencies to try to make everything okay, to sweep it under the rug and hold other people's secrets for them, just made me want to tell him it was okay, so i had to tell myself that too.  thirdly and most importantly, my cousin (whom i recently found out was sexually abused by our grandfather) had this "game" that she introduced me to when we were kids, which i now see was almost certainly taught to her by our grandfather or another adult or teenager.  it was very scripted, and honestly, it was fun at first, but then it got more aggressive and scary.  we were probably around 7-8-9.  i don't feel victimized by what we did, but i do realize it skewed my view of normal childhood sexuality and caused me to believe that what this guy did to his little brother was unfortunate but not that weird or dangerous.</p>
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<p>in the past year or so, i have been thinking a lot about this.  (i honestly didn't realize the seriousness of what he did until that time frame - actually from a thread on mdc that helped me understand sexual abuse and what is normal and abnormal in terms of childhood sexuality and play.)  it is really weighing on me.  i wish i had seen it more clearly at the time so i could have said/done something.  now i don't know what i should do, if anything.  it doesn't help that i left him when i was 21, for no reason other than "i have to," which hurts my credibility.  it just really bothers me that i know this, and someone could get hurt by the fact that it is remaining a secret.</p>
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<p>i tried to follow guidelines, not sure if i did, will edit if needed.</p>
 

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<p>I think many people have a story about witnessing or hearing about abuse when they were younger and not doing anything about it. I think it's a matter of when you know better, you'll do better. There are people in your exbf's life now that will see signs of any abuse he's committing on others. People are more educated now about speaking up if they suspect abuse. I think that if you want to do something about it, that's okay, of course. But if you think too much time has past, then that is okay, too.</p>
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<p>I think there are times when a person does really make a horrible mistake when they are in their early teens, and it doesn't necessarily mean they're an abuser for life. He was 20 when  you were together, right? Did it sound like he hadn't done anything between 13 and 20? </p>
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<p>hmm.  i get that, and i certainly don't want to be judged by my behavior when i was that age.  we were together from ages 17-21.  i don't know of anything that happened during that time, or how long it had been (possibly five years, possibly none at all) that he had stopped abusing his brother.  he did also tell me about stuff with his dog.  um.  anyway, it's possible he would not do something similar again.  oh the other hand, the reason this is more and more intensely on my mind (compared to when i first realized how bad it was about a year ago) is the stuff with my grandparents and my family - because when we were together, one of the things i <em>liked</em> about him was how much he reminded me of my grandpa.  that doesn't mean they share that particular trait.  in my grandfather's case, i don't know if he abused other kids in between his daughter and his granddaughters.  if not, that means a good 20 years passed with no abuse (and probably about 10 since the younger granddaughter).  so it's not reassuring to me at all to think, "well, if xh didn't do anything for 5-10 years, then he probably won't ever again." </p>
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<p>i agree, if i learned about something like that now, i would react a lot differently.  i just feel conflicted about whether i have a responsibility to do something and have no idea what that would be. </p>
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<p>eta: i suppose the other part of the reason this is bothering me so much is the whole, i married a pedophile, thing. </p>
 

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<p>My first husband was a former iv drug user who had not seen his dd for 10 years. He told me this on the way to our wedding and I still married him.</p>
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<p>I think if you contact anyone, it should be the younger brother. Which could be weird for him on several levels - he may have dismissed what happened to him, he may have sought counseling and healed and doesn't want to return to the trauma, he may be an alcoholic who would attack you for bringing it up, he may be embarrassed. . . or he could be grateful that someone understands.</p>
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<p>I agree that when you know better, you do better. I think, though, that we are going through the same thing - finally trying to heal ourselves, and it is making us examine every relationship we've ever had. Even the "good" boyfriends I had, I now view as toxic in one way or another. It will be a long road to rewire my brain.</p>
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<p>The part about you leaving him for no reason other than you had to - I wonder if there were signs that maybe you weren't consiciously aware of and b/c you were young and didn't have dc together, just followed your instinct freely w/o overthinking it.</p>
 

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<p>I can understand somewhat.  I question every relationship I've had now after DD's father.  And I also experienced sa as a child.  My much older sister (10+yrs) abused me, she would have been a teen.  And in turn, I abused my little brother.  Now my little brother is dead in part because of abuse.  I've thought about that chain a lot.  One time several years ago my brother confronted me about what I did to him.  I denied it, and I also didn't tell on my older sister.  He was angry, we were both under 8 when that happened.  I wanted to tell him it wasn't me (meaning not who I am/was) or my idea originally, but I couldn't see how any good would come from telling him what happened to me with my sister.  I wonder if I had handled that differently when my brother confronted me if he would have went down a different road in life.  Not that I'm trying to get into a big "what-if" thing.  </p>
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<p>I guess my personal beliefs would be that you could contact the younger brother, but only if you feel that you are in a place to handle the worst case scenario, whatever that may be for you.  I don't know that there is much of anything that you can do in some situations, as sad and ugly as it is.  And I totally hate saying that.  I wish that there were ways to handle these situations so that no one else would have to suffer like that again.</p>
 

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Discussion Starter #6
<p>so . . . you don't think my lack of response was the crappiest thing i could possibly ever have done? </p>
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<p>thank you for sharing your story. i'm sorry you feel like you share a piece of the responsibility for your brother's death.  i don't see it that way but i think i understand. </p>
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<p>xh was probably also reenacting something that happened to him or that he saw through exposure to porn or something (which is also considered abuse, isn't it?).  however he was a lot older - maybe not old enough to understand the damage, but old enough to understand it was wrong.</p>
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<p>thank you for helping me think about this.  i'm still thinking.</p>
 

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<p>It's a tough one. In general, you're the type of person who feels the weight of responsibility for others' well-being really deeply. I do that too, and I believe that it's a positive trait. We both know the ways where it can be a negative trait, but in general, I feel like for us, it's a positive trait until someone tries to take advantage of it -- then we have to make sure we have to know how to throw up boundaries. But in general, I don't think it would serve either one of us to be like, "we were in a codie relationship with an alcoholic abuser, so therefore, we should try as hard as we can to not care about others in the future because it backfired so badly last time."</p>
<p>So all that said...you were one actor in a big, messy, complex story. Your role was small -- you were effectively a bystander. You were very young. You scarcely knew a fraction of the things you know now about abuse. You were emotionally invested in your boyfriend and your nature was such that you wanted to comfort him. All this to say, don't beat yourself up over this. Just take the knowledge and thoughts and use it to protect yourself and your sons in the future.</p>
 

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<p>I agree with MamaJen.  Your response at that time in your life wasn't the worst thing ever.  When we are young and don't have healthy boundaries to begin with the lines are easily blurred.  I wouldn't think you did the wrong thing because you didn't know better, you didn't know then what you know now, sorry for the cliche.  It is hard to make sense of things that we accepted as children (and teens are still children in my eyes) when as wiser adults we can look back and say, "What was I thinking!"  Don't judge your child-self by your adult standards.  <img alt="hug2.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/hug2.gif"></p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Theia</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282624/knowledge-of-abuse-is-weighing-on-my-consciense#post_16085649"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a> Don't judge your child-self by your adult standards.  <img alt="hug2.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/hug2.gif"></div>
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This really, really bears repeating.
 

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<p>I was about the same age when I was with my abusive ex-bf and when I met my abusive XH. I didn't recognize either as abuse. I had always thought of the classic a guy hits a woman or a girl is raped in a bad part of town. I would have had the same reaction as you. Now that you know more about abuse it has brough up a red flag. That is good because it will help you in the future in breaking these patterns and helping others.</p>
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<p>I am a believer that someone can do an abusive action and it can just be a bad judgement. It's repeatedly doing those bad actions that leads to abuse. An abuser in my mind is someone with a certain mindset of things like entitlement, control, victimhood, etc. That's why abuse is so hard to change. These mindsets are so ingrained that someone would have to change their whole way other thinking to overcome it. Many are not ready to attempt taking such a step. That's something you didn't elaborate on. I think it would be a different story if this was a one time experiment, it hurt his brother and he felt remose. It would be abuse if it hurt his brother and he kept doing it anyway. </p>
 

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<br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>*MamaJen*</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282624/knowledge-of-abuse-is-weighing-on-my-consciense#post_16085062"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>It's a tough one. In general, you're the type of person who feels the weight of responsibility for others' well-being really deeply. I do that too, and I believe that it's a positive trait. We both know the ways where it can be a negative trait, but in general, I feel like for us, it's a positive trait until someone tries to take advantage of it -- then we have to make sure we have to know how to throw up boundaries. But in general, I don't think it would serve either one of us to be like, "we were in a codie relationship with an alcoholic abuser, so therefore, we should try as hard as we can to not care about others in the future because it backfired so badly last time."</p>
<p>So all that said...you were one actor in a big, messy, complex story. Your role was small -- you were effectively a bystander. You were very young. You scarcely knew a fraction of the things you know now about abuse. You were emotionally invested in your boyfriend and your nature was such that you wanted to comfort him. All this to say, don't beat yourself up over this. Just take the knowledge and thoughts and use it to protect yourself and your sons in the future.</p>
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<p>Yes, this.<br>
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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>*MamaJen*</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282624/knowledge-of-abuse-is-weighing-on-my-consciense#post_16086039"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a><br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Theia</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1282624/knowledge-of-abuse-is-weighing-on-my-consciense#post_16085649"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a> Don't judge your child-self by your adult standards.  <img alt="hug2.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/hug2.gif"></div>
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<p>This really, really bears repeating.</p>
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<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">Accidentally got myself into the quote. Oops.</span></p>
<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">Anyway, in regards to this, I have to say that this is true for those who abused as children as well. I am not saying that those who were abused by others who were also children when they were children have not right to feel upset over it, you/I/they most certainly do. But I am saying that not all children who were abusive because of the abuse they endured turn into abusers either... Or at least, not necessarily abuser in the manner the were as children.</span></p>
<p><span style="color:rgb(0,0,205);">I'm not sure if I'm making any sense or if that even matters. I still hold a lot of hurt and anger from my childhood abuse by my brothers, but I also see how and why they fell into the patterns they did (and in some ways have continued). I hold a lot of self-blame for the other children that they abused after/while they were abusing me, but I also recognize that I was a child. So, it is difficult for me to say that what you said was "wrong". He was a child. I doubt his patterns of behaviour were not learned from somewhere, and I think that his responsibility for his actions at that time, although definitely he should be held accountable, he should be allowed to grow and move on. Do I think that that means his brother should just "shut up" if he feels better if people know? Or whatever way which does make him accountable? No. Blah. So hard to express all that's in my head in heart, so I'll just hope that what I'm trying to say is understood</span> and doesn't offend anyone. <span><img alt="sulkoff.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/sulkoff.gif"></span></p>
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