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Childhood Abuse & the Second Trauma

  • 24-02-2021 2:41pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭


    Hi Boardsies,

    I'm having a really difficult time the last couple of years, and although I have had the support of my friends, I would really love to have an objective perspective on what has been going on, because sometimes I don't know if I am badly broken and cannot see straight, or if I am rightful in my hurt and anger. I apologise for the length of my post.

    When I was a child, I was sexually abused by an older, adopted brother. I do not recall the exact ages we were when it started - as is so often the case with childhood abuse, I suppressed the trauma for a long time and, being a young child when it happened, my recollection of exact dates etc. obviously cannot be 100%. I believe I was around 7 when it started, which would have made him 12, and I know for certain that when I was 12, he attempted to molest me again, when we were in a swimming pool together. So, he would have been 17 at that time. I think it is unnecessary and upsetting to go into detail on the abuse itself.

    I carried this alone for a long time. In fact, I had blocked most of it from my mind until I was around 11, and I remember being in the car and the radio was on - it was around the time that the whole catholic church sex abuse scandal had broken in Ireland. And I "remembered" that this had also happened to me. I had my first panic attack then, and have been plagued with these on and off for most of my adult life.

    Looking back, with an adult perspective, I now feel like I was wronged many times in fact, by people who were supposed to protect me. I remember when I was around 9, my parents left me alone in the house with my brother - I have to question now, as a parent myself, why they thought this in itself was acceptable. I was so angry at being left alone with him, presumably knowing what I was in for while they were gone, that I kicked in the glass front door, such was the strength of my anger. My mother spoke to me about it after and asked, "do you eb ok when you are here on your own with your brother?". In hindsight, I ask myself who asks this kind of question unless they suspect the worst, and surely if you suspect the worst when it comes to your own child, you do everything to get to the truth.

    I recall that my copybook was confiscated in school by a teacher, because in the back of it, I had written about Ann and Barry (for anyone younger than me, I believe these then became Tara and Ben!), and how Barry had abused Ann. My parents confronted me about this, but I think I fobbed them off saying it was something I saw on TV. Again, looking back with an adult perspective, I don't understand how they could not have seen this was acting out, and a cry for help. I don't understand why the teachers who found the copybook and called my parents did not pursue it.

    When I was 17, my dad "found" my diary. I suspect he had been looking for it. At that time, I was going through what I thought were normal teenage issues, but in hindsight can see that they were related to the abuse. I was drinking, self-harming and was also anorexic. I suspect he probably went to my diary looking for answers. He found an entry where I spoke about the abuse, though I had not named the perpetrator. He left a note in the diary telling me his door was always open to talk. Nice, I suppose, but as the father of a minor who had essentially confirmed in writing that someone had sexually abused her, in my mind, his efforts did not go far enough. I have a a daughter now. If I found out that someone had abused her sexually, I wouldn't stop until I found out who that person is.

    When I was the same age, I also told a teacher in school about it. My parents were called in, I was called in. I couldn't tell them who it was. I don't really know why. I believe I was afraid, since he was still living in the family home. I also had a misguided loyalty to my family, and did not want to ruin them. So, my parents and the school let it lie. In hindsight, I was a minor - the school should have called in social services. My brother should have been removed, or I should have been, but nothing was done. Years later my mother would tell me, "we were waiting for you to tell us, we had everyone in the family under a cloud of suspicion -we often wondered if it was Uncle X or Uncle Y" - it wasn't, of course, but if Uncles X and Y were under suspicion, why were they still allowed into the family home and around me?

    I had a fear of intimacy with men, and so for most of my twenties I identified as lesbian, and did form meaningful relationships (some of my exes are now my closest friends) however the relationships always ended because I wasn't being true to myself or my partners.

    I battled with alcohol dependency, and still do to a large extent.

    When I was in my mid thirties, I eventually told my parents who it was who had abused me as a child. I think their reaction, and that of my greater family, has been the biggest source of sadness and disappointment of my life, sometimes even causing more hurt than the initial abuse. Although my parents believed me straight away, they refused to "take sides" as they called it. I had moved home after living away for almost a decade. I was paying them rent, but also trying to save for my own place. They continued to allow my brother to live in the same house, and insisted that we play some form of happy family for the benefit of outsiders. I couldn't cope with their reaction, and started drinking heavily. I also sent them messages telling them I was angry with their reaction, and that they had hurt me and they were, essentially, protecting a paedophile. Their reaction to this was to accuse me of being an alcoholic and an elder abuser. They went to their GP and showed the messages to him, and got him to "confirm" that I was an elder abuser.

    In the aftermath, when I started to tell more people the truth about what had happened, it became clear that my brother was not a one time offender, but is in fact a sexual deviant. Many people (women) spoke to me about him when I opened the narrative about what he had done. Two of my ex girlfriends said that he had made advances on them, one he had touched inappropriately in the back of the car on the way home from a family wedding. My best friend told me my brother had hit on her mother, and stalked her for years, driving up and down outside her house. Her mother has since passed away, and went to her grave without ever disclosing this to my family, because she didn't want to hurt them.

    He goes to Thailand every year for sex tourism. My neighbour, who used to come in every day (pre-covid) to take my dog out at lunchtime when I was at work, texted me one day to tell me she could no longer do it. When I talked to her about it, she told me that he had made advances on her too.

    My parents know about all of this, and they still protect him. My father will still have him over for breakfast, and allow him to sit watching their TV all day having cups of tea made for him. I am expected to be civil to him.

    My wider family has turned against me - a cousin sent a christmas card to the house addressed to the three of them, with my name left off. My aunt, who I confided in, told me I am spoiled and trouble-making, and that my brother has "limited cognitive abilities" and should be forgiven. Up to when Covid hit, he was still being invited to family events as if nothing had changed. My parents have sewn the narrative - I am the broken one, I am angry, I am an alcoholic and an elder abuser, I need to be fixed.

    And every so often I will receive a phonecall or text from one of my parents, telling me that the other is "at the doctor with chest pain" and that they are advised to "avoid stress" - in other words, I am the cause of whatever has brought them to the GP. It feels like they are trying to manipulate me into silence all the time. "We are so old, we cannot cope" etc.

    When you look at me, you would never guess that this has all gone on, and in some ways I am incredibly lucky. I'm engaged to a wonderful man who has supported me through all of this, we have a beautiful daughter, we have mortgage AIP and will be moving out in the next few months - we still pay my parents close to market rent anyway.

    I think I just want to cut ties with my entire family, and I have read about estrangement but it seems like a huge step. I also feel guilty because they adore my daughter and is it right for me to sever that tie because of the past? Then again, if they cannot respect my boundaries, then how can I trust them with my daughter? I could never leave her in their care, knowing I could be exposing her to my brother (who has since moved but not that far away).

    Despite everything, I used to have a really good relationship with my Dad, and as strange as it sounds, I would mourn the loss of my relationship with him. However, I know things cannot go on as they are. I have so much anger, and I don't know how to process it, and it has started to affect my relationship with my fiance too. I need to do something before I ruin the best thing that ever happened to me. But, estrangement seems like such a huge step.

    It feels like I am the bad guy in all of this. I feel betrayed by my own family, and cannot believe that my wider family are still defending him. It's truly a second trauma.


Comments

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,797 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith


    OP, fair play to you for typing it all out. I hope it's done you some good.

    There is no doubt that its messed up how your family have reacted. Unfortunately sometimes the reaction is not how it should be and it just makes you feel worse. I also wonder is there a bit of head burying in the sand, that they can tick a box and say, well we asked. But we really don't want to know the answer, so they didn't push it. Also you find the narrative always seems to be, let them talk when they're ready, but sometimes its hard to be the one to make all the moves with it!

    That aunt, isn't worth a second thought. Making excuses and leaving your name off a card is vile!

    I suppose you need to think about whether cutting ties with your family would hurt you more. There's so much to work with and cutting people out can require more energy than you have. The other possibility is that you don't have to have to cut them out, just change the dynamic. Have them in your life, but don't absorb what they say or do? Or don't expect them to be the support you need?

    Though I have to say, I would be livid if my parents were sitting down to lunch with him. Maybe the fact that they're his parents too leaves them a little misguided.

    Would you talk to someone professionally? Your parents are not the people to turn to with this. It seems they don't have the tools to deal with it. Talking to someone as an adult who is best placed to help you get everything out and help you get your ducks in a row, might be the best step?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,703 ✭✭✭Xterminator


    Hi Op

    Well done in getting that all written out. I mean that. it cannot have been easy.

    I think you are better placed than any stranger on the internet to understand the very real impact this has had on your life!! I don't play down or underestimate the strength you have shown to turn things around, to the point where you have a real future ahead of you, husband, child and your own home.

    i have an observation i would like to share. You seem very angry at your family. i, not talking about the abuser - your father features in the story a few times, while mum is a silent partner?

    There is not a manual for how deal with your withdrawn child who you at least suspect may have a problem. Dragging the problem out of a hurt injured child can cause more trauma, and its not recommended for dads or psychologists to force them to share. his handling of the situation may have been not ideal, but when he made sure you knew his door was open was probably a good strategy, and your anger at how he did that is probably a little misplaced. Your parents also believed you straight away, when you finally shared the full details of what happened about 2 decades before (if my maths is right). Again, the correct response.

    But your anger is probably because they did not disown and ostracise the step brother. However it is not your choice, your decision to make and as a stranger i can say it is an awful choice to have to make. Parents dont stop loving their children, when they ge involved in crime, if they are killers, and if they are child abusers. They love you, they love him, and they have recognised his actions against you and believed you when you told them. I dont think any parent ever stops loving their child. So dont expect them and other family members to cut him off, it is not a realistic expectation, not in your family anyway. their relationship with him, and how they handle this situation really isnt for you to decide.

    But your relationship with them is one you do have a say in. Your anger has poisoned this relationship with dad (& mum?). I think that is sad.

    Now i completely think that you should do what is right for you, and if for your mental health it is best to cut off all family ties - do so. Without any hesitation, if you believe the whole situation causes you pain, and if cutting them off for now is the best thing - do it! Send them a letter and explain you wish not to be contacted, as you focus on your own mental health.

    Also if you think it will help you report him to the police. It may cause family tensions, but first and foremost you were the victim, and you need to prioritise what is best for you.

    My advice is that anger isnt going to serve you well here. Anger at parents, aunts - try to let it go. Have you had therapy? Get some counselling to help you deal with those strong emotions and perhaps there is a chance that in the future you can have some sort of relationship with dad. if it is right for you at that time and doesn't cause more bad than good.


  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser


    Hi, thank you both for your replies.

    It is interesting to hear objective opinions. Xterminator, I appreciate your insight on this, and it is interesting because I hadn't even realised how little I mentioned my mother, even though she has probably acted (in my opinion) in the most reprehensible manner since all of this came to light (and before). I suppose, it has been going on for so long both in my own life as a constant reality for several decades, but also the last 2 years since I broke my silence for good. I apologise, as I should have provided more information - there is so much to try to fit in. (

    Although my mother said she believed me as her initial reaction (and I am certain she does of course, in addition, my brother confessed what he did when she asked him), but when I began to tell people outside of my immediate family, she did not take too well to the perceived "shaming" that I was embarking on. In fact, she actually accused me of "bringing shame on the family". She has constantly poked holes in my story - not in an effort to bring my account into question, but I believe trying to take from the gravity of what happened, and apportion a sort of blame on me for not coming out sooner. Any time I confronted her about why she was still supporting her son and expecting me to be civil to him, she would retort with things like, "well, you can't even remember exactly how old you were or how many times it happened". While I spared my parents the details of the abuse itself, not wanting to hurt them further, she'd often say, "well sure he probably just touched you up or something", in a bid to presumably downplay the gravity of what he did. She would also say things like, "well, he told us that you were really mean to him as a kid too, and used to tell him you wished he'd never been adopted into the family" as if this evened the score in her head.

    As a parent myself, I can understand to a point that they would be conflicted but equally as a parent I cannot understand their apathy when it came to protecting their daughter. And whereas I could reconcile to a certain point with their reaction in the aftermath when I disclosed the abuse with the voice and power and autonomy of an adult, I cannot forgive her for knowing about the abuse (or at least strongly suspecting it) and not doing anything about it at that point - when I was a child who needed her protection, and did not have a voice or words of my own to communicate the danger I was in. Had she stepped in then, I would have been spared years more abuse. And, irrespective of her loyalty to her son, I don't think that one deserves forgiveness. Then again, nobody has ever sought that from me anyway.

    I have embarked on the therapy journey several times but never seen it through enough. I think this is a commitment I need to make to myself and for my partner and child, as a next step, irrespective of estrangement or otherwise.


  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser


    Hi OP,

    I too am a survivor of child sexual abuse and your post struck a chord with me. I could have written it myself. Except it was a cousin that did it and I told my parents I didn't like staying over at their house because of what he did to me. They removed me from the situation before it could escalate further, thankfully. But it has caused a rift in my family that I have felt shame over for years. Shame that doesn't belong to me but the people who don't know my story will blame my family for the rift.

    I believe your parents did their best by you when you were younger. Sexual abuse by it's nature is difficult to prove without the words or evidence to take it further. They believed you when you said who it was. But like a poster said above, there is no written way for how to handle it beyond that.

    My parents removed me from the situation. I was lucky but I still feel anger towards them for their reactions when I tried to talk about it later or seek counselling. My mother used to think counselling messed people up more than helped them and I believed her for years. But I eventually went against her belief and sought help. I've been getting counselling for years now. I had to start again with a different approach this year too. The counselling I had before didn't help enough. This year has been traumatic for everyone. For those with childhood trauma of any sort, it has been retraumatising. Your anger is not unusual. It's very normal for what has happened to you.

    Find the right counsellor for you, it's so important. I'm learning anger management and self compassion. And understanding that though my parents didn't always handle the situation the way they 'should', they are only human and I can only imagine their sense of helplessness and grief when it happened too. I don't have a child, but I imagine if I did, I would feel anger in wanting to protect them too. Look after yourself OP. What happened to you was never your fault. But you are the only person who can look after yourself now. And a lot of the time, post sexual abuse, it's coping with what you have and realising that you can't change what happened, but you can manage going forward.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,797 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith


    I honestly think some people get a great textbook supportive circle around them when things like this happen and some people don't. And it isn't fair.

    For myself, I haven't told my family what happened to me and for years I was angry that they never cared enough to ask, when to me the signs were obvious. I remember very clearly having a talk with myself after one 'visit' with my grandad and thinking I had to tell someone. But even at that age, I thought through what the result of that might be. No one would believe me, I'd rip the family apart and even if they did believe me, would my grandad go to prison? I couldn't be the one to pull that plug. So I said to myself I'll say nothing to anyone and if that was the case, I had to act like nothing was going on. So how could they possibly have known?

    When I stopped visiting him, he raised an issue with my dad, who went ballistic at me for not visiting my poor lonely grandad. He threw me out of the house and told me not to come back until I'd seen him. I didn't go obviously, because I knew what would happen. But I was angry with my dad for years, for taking the easy way out and thinking bad of me rather than pausing to think it might be his dad that was the problem.

    From that, my take is that if I ever spoke up, he would react like your mother OP. He would doubt me, ask for back up proof or ask for specifics. Like you're saying, I can't go into specifics and use the words I would need to to tell my dad about his own dad.

    I also honestly think this kind of abuse has a ripple effect that knocks everyone's boats and suddenly their fighting to keep themselves steady and the needs of the person at the centre of it get overlooked or forgotten about. I can totally get how you feel its like a second trauma. Its another layer you didn't need.

    Perhaps I'm not the best one to be offering advice when you were brave enough to speak out when I wasn't. But what I have learned is that the calmness doesn't come from other people. You have the full 360 degree view that no one else has about your situation and its not fair that people are trying to sully it, but whether rightly or wrongly, they're trying to keep their boats steady as best they can.

    You've tried taking it up with your family who haven't given you what you need in response. They're never going to by the sounds of it. Maybe that's not the right place to look for what you need? Its not making you feel any better.

    BTW I'm not suggesting in any of the above that you are responsible for any boat rocking or you did the wrong thing by telling your family and expecting them to give you the support you needed. Far from it. You did exactly the right thing and the only person who caused all of this was your brother.

    Maybe give the counselling another shot?


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  • Registered Users Posts: 4,703 ✭✭✭Xterminator


    It is a very sad situation, where your mother has acted in that way. Its indefensible & reflects poorly on her, not on you.

    There is another thing i would like to point out. And it is the fact that you yourself, are an exceptional person, that has shown extraordinary courage and mental strength. You didn't let the situation break you, and you have emergent from your childhood and gone on to build the life you deserve. It really does deserve self recognition - if you don't already see that. you already know all about your own flaws, and mistakes, so just also allow yourself some kudos & recognise your strengths too!

    The biggest victory here you can claim to reward yourself with a rich fulfilling life full of positive relationships and love. Thats is your goal now.


  • Registered Users Posts: 601 ✭✭✭Magicmatilda


    Hi,

    I feel compelled to respond. Unfortunately your experience is actually quite common.

    Honestly for your own sake you probably need to put some distance between yourself and your family. Can you do that? You need to protect and prioritise yourself in a way that they never could or would. You need to stand up for yourself and speak your own truth. It may be the start of you recovering. You will lose people but if you have some good supporting people in place you will be OK

    You should also seek some counselling from someone trained to deal with trauma. One in four are quite good as are the National Counselling Service which is a free service for people in your situation.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,930 ✭✭✭spaceHopper


    Well done for speaking out and for building what could be a happy life and home for yourself, that's what I would focus on. But you are carrying baggage that you won't be able to fix on your own. Talk to the rape crisis center or find counselling another way. Get into your own home with your partner and daughter. After that think about your next step, maybe as part of counselling you could get your parents to go to mediation with you where you will be better able to explain how this and they have affected you. They've made mistakes but they never meant to harm you or allow you to be harmed. That's all on your brother. Given he might not have stopped you might want to think about reporting him but think about that after you've had counselling and have a clear head. Given how much of this happened when he was under 18 there might be little they can do, with the exception of his trips to Thailand


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,292 ✭✭✭TheBoyConor


    I am so sorry that you went through this and your family don't support you.

    But I wonder, why are you only going to them to seek support? You should be going to a counsellor first and then the Gardai. You will be treated sympathetically and in general what you say will be taken at face value. They can bring a criminal case against him for what he has done to you. And by extension, your parents will also be punished by association for what he has done and they have facilitated.
    You also have the option, if you wish to do so, of pursue him a second time in the civil courts over the suffering he caused you, and perhaps, your parents for failing in their duty of care to protect you when they clearly were aware of the abuse but failed to act to prevent further abuse.

    With your brother's prolific history of abuse and inappropriate behaviour against so many people, it is actually quite important that he is made to face justice. These are the people you know about - how many others has he interfered with or forced himself on that you have not heard anything about because they have remained silent. These tendencies do not go away you know - he previously interfered with you as a child and that means that he could still be a danger to children. Does he have access to children anywhere else in the community? Family or organisations?

    I think there is a moral obligation to have him investigated in order to protect others in the community from him since he is already a known sexual deviant and pedophile. It seems to be a fairly well established and well known pattern of behaviour.
    You could try telling your parents that if this all comes out, the only way they will be able to salvage some scrap of their reputation is to renounce him at once as soon as the revelations are made, as they will be imminent.


  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser


    Hi all,

    OP here, and thank you all so much for your very detailed and considered replies. I am also sorry to read about those of you who have gone through similar. I often wonder how many people carry this with them their whole lives and never speak out.

    In relation to my mother, I really just can't accept that she did her best, or if she did, then I do not think her best was good enough. The last time we spoke (argued!) about it, I told her that she should never have been a mother, and it seems like the kind of thing one would regret, and have on their mind forever, but I don't regret saying it, and even when she is no longer here, I will not regret saying it. Then again, saying it didn't achieve anything, much like any of the other communications we have had. In my mind, she knew what was happening. I was the child, she was the adult. It was her legal and moral obligation to intervene, and she didn't. Irrespective of how difficult it might have been for her, it was her duty and she failed. Much of parenting is difficult, but that isn't justification for avoiding our responsibilities. I accept that I have my parenting badge for a lot less time than she has had, but nothing would ever stop me from protecting my daughter if she was in harms way, regardless of how difficult that might be for me. Because as a parent, it isn't about me - its about my child.

    In any event, I feel like apportioning blame to her in my head and my heart is a sort of futile mental gymnastics. She will never admit she was wrong, and even if she did - what would it achieve. I agree with the post made asking why I am looking for resolution with my family. It's a really good point and I'm not sure why it has become so important to me for them to act in a certain way that in my head is the "right way" to act. As another poster said, how they react is not my concern. I suppose, I was brought up with traditional values that centred on the important of the family unit and this whole "we stick together" thing, and so I still have the idea that family is your first protection in a storm, and of course then there are avenues outside of that for professional, mental and legal resolution. In hindsight, it would have been far better for my mental wellbeing to explore these avenues first, and who knows - maybe I would never have felt the need to even disclose this to them. Or, if I had secured a conviction, perhaps they would have taken me more seriously. Although, I doubt it. My mother in particular has a view that the world is against her son. I remember taking the phone out of her hand one day when she wanted to call the boss of my (then) 35 year old brother for "being mean to him and not giving him enough overtime". When I asked her years ago why she didnt mind him going to Thailand for sex holidays, she said, "it isn't his fault, he has needs and he can't have those needs met here because he can't meet a nice Irish woman because they are all b*tches". Deluded doesn't even begin to describe it, but there isn't much to be gained from assassinating her character on here.

    I've done a lot of reading and research about the important role that family plays when a victim decides to speak out, and it's widely accepted that a good support system is hugely beneficial to one's recovery. When you have your "first line of defence" second guessing your recollections and telling you that you are bringing shame on the family, it complicates the recovery. That is not to say that the onus is on them for my recovery - that is on me, but my mother has definitely arrested my recovery journey through her inability to see my brother for what he is. They call it the second hurt and in some cases it can cause more damage than the abuse itself.

    Regarding pressing charges, I had been in contact with a DS who was willing to meet with me, but with everything that happened with Covid and getting used to be being a mum, it took a back seat. I do plan to progress it though. Although he was a minor himself, I know that the age of criminal responsibility is 12 (and lower for more serious crimes), and being a lawyer (for my sins!) I am also familiar with the low rates of convictions secured, and how trials tend to progress etc. However, as the last poster said, it is imperative that I do what I can to prevent another child being abused. This is something that weights heavily on my mind at times, and is a difficult guilt to feel on top of the multitude of other emotions.

    I think for now, the most sensible option would be to remain on civil terms with my family (parents that is, I owe nothing to extended family who engage in petty one-upmanship such as the card debacle), and I am living under their roof so I will afford them the respect of being civil and we can function as best we can until such time that I move out. But, after that I am not sure what road to take. I will try to engage in therapy in the interim, and perhaps this would shed some light as to the best way forward. The important thing is that forward is the direction to be looking I suppose. In years to come, I would hate to be sitting at home, still bitter and angry, looking back at a life wasted where I could have had a life of joy. I've a good job, amazing partner and baby (and another on the way), and we are building our life together the way we want. There is much to look forward to and so much joy to be had.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 3,292 ✭✭✭TheBoyConor


    When you are talking to the DS again, make a point of bringing up is little escapades over to Thailand where he goes to indulge his wretched deviations. Personally, I take an extraordinarily dim view of this type of carry on. And I am sure that the Gardai will take note of the fact that he goes to Thailand to do things which he cannot do or get away with in Ireland. God only knows what he gets up to over there, underground child brothels for all we know. That is a lot of what happens over there.

    While I accept that there is no guarantee at all of a conviction if he is prosecuted, I think even just pursue it would have it be known in public that there is a serious question mark over this man's head. It would serve as a warning to the community that if he was up in court for sexually abusing children in his own family, then he is someone that needs to be seriously watched out for and kept away from, conviction or no conviction.

    You are a strong person and I am sure you don't want any other child to have to go through what you went through with him. You could be for them the saviour which you never had, not even your own parents would protect you from him. You obviously know that unless he is has a criminal record, he will pass a Garda Vetting to work with children in clubs or scouts or sports or whatever.

    I am actually sickened to my core to read that you mother condones his deviance. Her attitude amounts to "he can sexually abuse whoever he wants however he wants, as long as it is out of sight, in a third world country potentially against people or children who are trafficked or otherwise have no voice".

    My advice is bide your time while you are still living at home. Keep a keen ear out for anything you might hear. Discreetly comb the house for your old diaries or any other piece of evidence that might be useful. Gather your thoughts and try hard to piece together your past. I would take particular note of any Thailand trips you might get wind of. Find out about what dates and where, and whether those places have particular reputations. Does you brother ever have a computer at the house, or is there a computer in your parents house? I'm sure if there was if any reasonable legitimate suspicion could be arrived at, the Garda National Cybercrime Bureau would be very interested in examining any electronic devices he might own or have access to. If he has a computer in work, that would be another one.
    If he has a history of going to Thailand to indulge sexual deviances to the point that his mother knows, then there is a very high chance in my opinion that there could be highly incriminating material on his electronic devices. If it is true that there are some impairments to his cognitive abilities, then he might not have had the smarts to cover his tracks.

    Once you move out and become established, make your move.

    Being a lawyer yourself, you have an incredible advantage at your disposal that very few other victims of childhood sexual abuse have at their disposal. Use it to good effect.

    I think you mentioned that someone said that your brother has some limitations on his cognitive abilities? is that right and if so what is the nature of the issues? Since he has a job, he still has sufficient capacity to be aware of his actions being wrong and criminally culpable.

    What is this individual up to now? Does he have his own family? Is he involved in any organisations or activities, or in casual or social contact with any people wherein he could potentially have access to children or a vulnerable person?

    Regardless of how it happens, I think it is of utmost importance that the community know this man's tendencies and what he is capable of and has already done.

    I am sure you are already well aware, but don't ever leave your child in the care your parents if you are away for any reason, because he has a habit of calling over. tbh, since they have excused his pedophilic tendencies and let it slide, I personally would not make a distinction between perpetrator and facilitator. All three of them are as guilty as eachother because they are all part of the same incident.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,797 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith


    Its almost like they're two different beasts OP. There's what your brother did and then there's what your mother did/is doing. You did deserve better no doubt.

    It is possible to recover without that first line of defence, don't think because you didn't get it you won't get there. Or this is how you have to stay with it. You're right, you have lots of positivity coming your way and that's a great place to be at now.

    I'd meet with that sergeant for sure. If the family kick off, always remember you're not the problem here and they're wrong if they try and make you feel otherwise.

    Congratulations on the impending arrival!


  • Administrators, Politics Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,947 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Neyite


    I was going to go anon, but fcuk it. It's not my shame to bear.

    I'm another one who experienced CSA at the hands of a relative. When I disclosed it, the person (elderly) was basically shunted off to a home and nothing was said to me. And I couldn't talk about it either because, as a therapist I attended in my twenties said how could I, I didn't have the vocabulary as a child to verbalise it. Supposedly I was so young I'd forget. Well, kind of. An attempted assault in my mid teens brought it all flooding back and my teens and twenties were a bit chaotic until my mid twenties when I went to counselling for myself, and got a lot of it sorted.

    When I had my own baby it made me re-examine what my parents did/didn't do at the time. Like, I would be white hot with rage at the idea of anyone harming a hair on my child's head, and it's been very hard to They didn't contact the gardai, or any professional for me apart from a single visit to the GP where I wasn't spoken to at all. So I'm resentful of that. But the flip side is that it was the 80s, and attitudes to stuff like that was very very backward. If I'm honest, I don't think my relationship with my parents fully recovered after that though there was a closeness there - it helped though that my abuser had died years ago and it wasn't someone they were particularly close to anyway. Having said that, I've never asked them to babysit or to mind my child. I just think that at the back of my mind I would always wonder at their ability to protect my kid.

    My wider family don't know about it. Because I know that they would do exactly what you've described - extol the virtues of my abuser and tell me I'm wrong. So they'll never find out from me. I know my truth and I've come to realise that's all I need.

    I think you are amazing. You endured far far more than I did and you've come out the other side a survivor. The sooner you can get away from your brother and your parents the healthier your life will be. To me it looks like they are 'siding' with him because if they side with you, they will have to admit the truth of it, and they can't live with that. It's easier to excuse, misinterpret, ignore or write off what you have to say because of your struggles because they can't face what happened.

    You are probably best off to just ignore the lot of them when you move, keep contact minimal at the most, keep all of them WELL away from your child, and focus on you, and the family you are building with your partner and child. Keep up with the therapy as long as you need and remember your strength. You've overcome so so much, you are dealing with so much and yet, you are not only still standing, but thriving.


  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser


    Hi OP,

    I know I posted the other day to say I felt your parents had done their best by you when you were younger. I felt they had their suspicions but felt they couldn't prove anything. But you are right, they should have taken action to protect you. And I certainly do not agree with their behaviour now. I feel Neyite is right, they don't want to face up to the reality of what has happened. It is wrong of them. I hope I didn't upset you with my comment as that was not my intent. My story is different in that my parents acted the minute I told them what had happened. I'm forever grateful for that.

    I think everyone who has spoken out here has been very brave. It's not something that people ever talk about. A handful of my friends know what happened. And I wouldn't want to burden them with the emotion if they were to see the full effect of the pain it has caused to me and my family. I would never wish it on anyone. I feel less alone for having spoken about it here.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,845 ✭✭✭Antares35


    It is a very sad situation, where your mother has acted in that way. Its indefensible & reflects poorly on her, not on you.

    There is another thing i would like to point out. And it is the fact that you yourself, are an exceptional person, that has shown extraordinary courage and mental strength. You didn't let the situation break you, and you have emergent from your childhood and gone on to build the life you deserve. It really does deserve self recognition - if you don't already see that. you already know all about your own flaws, and mistakes, so just also allow yourself some kudos & recognise your strengths too!

    The biggest victory here you can claim to reward yourself with a rich fulfilling life full of positive relationships and love. Thats is your goal now.

    I don't know how many time I have re-read this post but it has been many - thank you :o I tend not to think of the situation in terms of my reaction to and recovery from it, but more so how others react, and trying to derive some form of satisfaction or sense of closure from that. I have realised now that this is just another way to hand over my power and autonomy to others, which I struggled for so long to regain.

    Sometimes I feel like "on paper" I have achieved a lot in the face of adversity, but on a personal level, when I battle with so much anger and anxiety, I don't feel at all like I've achieved anything.

    In terms of victory, you're dead right and I was just saying this to a friend last night, that I have found myself quite unintentionally doing a form of CBT. Whenever I have invasive angry thoughts (and they blindside me from nowhere, seemingly without a trigger at times), I stop them in their tracks by thinking about my partner, our little girl, our unborn (who I strongly suspect is also a girl!), and I imagine us in a time from now, in our new place and two little girls running around and I think you know what, I have already won. And every time I have a negative thought now or I feel the anger bubbling up again, I try to displace it with this visualisation.

    The only time it really gets me now is when I sleep. Sometimes I have dreams where I am confronting my mother for not taking my side, and for trivialising my experience, and in my dream I shout at her and tell her how much she has hurt me. OH said he can sometimes hear me, and I wake up like an anger ball.

    This has to stop, somehow. But, it wont be through anything they say or do.


  • Registered Users Posts: 3,845 ✭✭✭Antares35


    Hi Neyite

    I too have decided that I dont need to hide, I've posted as myself. You're right, the shame is absolutely not ours. I am sorry to hear that you went through abuse also. I can definitely share your feelings in terms of that protective surge we have for our own children. I think I started having real difficulties making sense of all this after my child was born. Initially I chalked it up to PND, but sometimes we can be quick to just assign everything to the most obvious culprit, and I didn't have any other PND symptoms. Looking at it now, it was definitely a shift in perspective. When you have this tiny vulnerable person who depends on you, and who you would give your life for, it makes it hard to comprehend how another parent could perhaps not have the strength to protect us in the same way.

    Motherhood definitely opens a big door of feelings that can be hard to get used to!


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